public figures interview series

Caroline Wayman ex FOS CEO complaining habits

A series of interviews by The Complaining Cow

Caroline Wayman undertook this interview when she was the Chief Ombudsman for the Financial Ombudsman. She left the role 16 April 2021, after 22 years in the service and nearly 7 years as chief executive.

Caroline Wayman sitting on a sofaIn my series of interviews with people in the consumer world regarding their complaining habits, today is the turn of Caroline Wayman, Chief Ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman

Complaining habits

1) Generally, do you complain to a company regarding a faulty item?
I will if it really bothers me, but some organisations make it hard, so I don’t always manage to. But I know from our work at the Financial Ombudsman Service that it’s important to let a business know if something hasn’t gone well. It gives them a chance to try and put things right and lets them know where there might be a wider issue they need to look into for other customers.

2) How much does the likely redress have to be before you will
complain and why?
I think customer service is much more than the monetary value of something. Someone may not have lost out financially – for example – if a business has been rude to them but it’s still important for a business to understand the impact that had on their customer. An apology and an explanation can go a really long way to putting things right.

3) How well do you know your legal rights (Consumer Rights Actdifferent sectors regulations etc.)
My day job means that I am fairly well-versed on my rights. When deciding complaints our service has to decide complaints on the basis of what’s fair and reasonable in all the circumstances by taking into account the law, rules and regulations and good practice in the industry. This gives us a more flexible approach than deciding cases based on just the strict legal approach and means we have an understanding of different regulations – some of which cut across different sectors – not just financial services– like the Consumer Rights Act.

4) If you receive service over and above good do you give feedback?
Absolutely! I think it’s really important to let people know when they have made your experience special or even just helped put your mind at rest during a time when you might be getting in touch because something has gone wrong. At the ombudsman service I am often copied into emails from people who have taken the time to reach out and share when they have received a great level of customer service. For a business to know the impact their great customer service has had on someone is so rewarding and I know how much that helps motivate and engage staff to be the best they can be.

5) If you receive poor service how many people do you tell (include
your social media followers too!)
I think like most people, if I receive poor service I will tell my friends and family. I don’t tend to share my experience using social media but that’s more because I tend to use social media for staying in touch with people rather than anything else.

6) If you receive good services how many people do you tell?
Again, I tend to mention it to my friends and family but one of the things I’ve been trying to do more of is tell the person who has provided the good service and make their manager aware as I know that can really make someone’s day and helps contribute to their overall development. As a chief executive I really value hearing both the bad and the good as I believe you can learn from both equally.

7) If you don’t really complain or it has to be a significant amount
in question before you will, what stops you from complaining?
The thing I find most frustrating is when a business makes it difficult to complain – perhaps by not publishing their complaints process on their website, or making you tell 10 different people what’s happened before being able to speak to someone who can help. I know from some of the complaints we see about financial businesses at the ombudsman service that’s a frustration which is shared by other people too and can sometimes make what actually started out as a simple issue a bigger problem to resolve. It’s a shame that something like that –which should be so easy to get right – can put people off trying to get a problem sorted out.

8) What do you think of using social media to complain?
I think it’s great when consumers have a range of ways to contact a business in a way that’s most convenient for them. I don’t tend to use social media for complaining but I think it’s been really interesting to see how consumers have been instrumental in making that a channel for complaining that businesses have needed to respond to and has now become the norm.

9) Is customer service/being able to gain redress a factor when
deciding where to purchase an item
At the ombudsman service we see first-hand the difference consumer protections can make. With that in mind I always try to make sure I purchase things in a way that means I might be more protected should things go wrong, for example I make sure I book holiday flights using an ATOL holder, make all purchases over £100 on my credit card and try to choose businesses which are regulated and covered by an ADR scheme just in case anything goes wrong.

10) Do you ever contact a CEO of a company? If so at what point in the complaint process?
I tend to follow a business’s complaint procedure as that’s usually the best way of getting a complaint to the right person to look into. Having said that I would contact a CEO directly as a last resort if my service complaint wasn’t being dealt with appropriately. As a CEO myself ensuring we provide a good level of service is a fundamental commitment that I want to make sure we always strive to meet and continually improve on. People’s idea of what good customer service looks like continually evolves so it’s important that all businesses continue to adapt to meet those expectations – and hopefully exceed them too.

11) If you have ever used an ADR scheme (ombudsman/mediation/arbitrator)
or gone to Small Claims Court tell us about it.
I’ve never needed to do that myself but I think it’s great that we live in a country where we have a range of consumer protections and regulations in place as well as organisations that are there to step in and help if needed.

Read others in the series here

About Caroline Wayman

Caroline was the Chief Ombudsman & Chief Executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service – the organisation which can sort out complaints between financial businesses and their customers.

Caroline joined the Financial Ombudsman Service in 2000 and has helped to lead the organisation through substantial change. She was appointed chief ombudsman & chief executive in July 2014 and left 22 April 2021. She was also an experienced member of the executive team, joining it in 2011 as principal ombudsman and legal director.

Caroline was called to the bar and spent her early career working in the insurance industry, before joining the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau in 1999. Outside of the Financial Ombudsman service, Caroline was appointed to the board of the Crown Prosecution Service in June 2018.

Help with your complaints

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


If you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!


The Complaining Cow free support for businesses

Join the Facebook Group Managing Complaints with Compassion and Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve complaint handling.

Free download to help you reduce risk when dealing with complaints from vulnerable customers.

Helen Dewdney expert in her field logos of TV and radio

5 Ways How You Can Care About Vulnerable Customers

The Complaining Cow Services

To see how The Complaining Cow can help you prevent and handle complaint see Services.





Caroline Wayman sitting on sofa


Financial issues Latest News

Quick guide for all you need to know about PPI claims

Deadline for claiming for mis-selling of PPI

Today, 29/08/17 despite pressure from consumer groups, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that it will introduce a deadline for making new payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints. It is quite ridiculous that this deadline should be introduced, the only benefit is for the financial institutions! Although the FCA has told them to contact customers regarding PPI, many have failed to do so and the onus is on the consumer to contact the company.

29th August 2019 is the deadline for PPI claims

Millions of us are contacted on a daily basis from Claims Management Companies trying to get their hands on a large percentage of what we may or may not be owed. But despite this, it is estimated that there are billions more to be claimed. In fact the FCA says that over half have yet to claim but has imposed this deadline. Claims have been made since 2011, that’s 6 years and yet they expect more than 6 years of claims to be made in two years? Plus the additional claims which have already been dealt with due to the Plevin case. That issue of 2 versus 6 years alone begs many questions! See the FCA figures for amounts claimed in each of the last 6 years.

What exactly is PPI?

Payment Protection Insurance. When you took out a loan or a mortgage or similar you may have been sold it alongside the agreement. It would, in theory pay out if you were unable to make the payments.

What makes a mis-sold PPI?

1) If you were told that you had to have it (you didn’t) to take out the loan
2) It has been added without your knowledge
3) Sold the wrong cover, e.g. something to which you didn’t agree, single policy instead of joint, you already had cover with another product/through work etc
4) If you were self, employed, retired or unemployed and were sold unemployment cover which would have been useless to you
5) You had pre existing medical conditions and the cover made you exempt
6) If your provider has already been fined for not acting fairly it is likely that you will have a case.

Supreme Court judgment in Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance Ltd (Plevin)

The Plevin decision means that consumers may have new grounds to complain about PPI regarding the amount of money that the providers received for the sale if the commission was undisclosed and made the relationship unfair.

Failure to disclose commission gave rise to an unfair relationship. Over 50% and firms should calculate redress as the excess commission over this 50%.

The FCA requires all firms to write to previously rejected complainants who are eligible to complain in light of Plevin in order to explain the new basis for complaining to them. Consumers with live PPI policies will now be able to complain after the deadline if they have a future claim on their policy rejected for reasons related to the sale. The complaint must be related to the reason the claim was rejected, for example, eligibility, exclusions or limitations.

Finding out if you had PPI

Look at all your loan agreements. See if there is any mention of PPI. Insurance, benefits, protection plan, etc. If so, look through and see if you think you were mis sold.  Although there are calls to make finance companies inform all customers of their PPI agreements, they aren’t doing so. If you can’t find the paperwork and don’t know if you had PPI, don’t despair! Write to the company and ask for a copy of your agreement. Ask for the terms and conditions which were relevant at the time as these may have changed and it’s what they were at the time of agreement that matters. You may have to pay £1 for existing accounts and £10 for closed accounts.

You can also check your credit history which will tell you of any accounts which were live in the last 6 years.

How to claim for mis-sold PPI

Don’t use a Claims Management Company there really isn’t a need and they can’t do anything more than you but will take a hefty chunk of what you are owed. Write to the finance company giving the account details, and any other information such as when it was taken out, different address etc.

Explain how you believe you have been mis sold with as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case.

Use the Which? free and quick to use template and they even send it off for you.

Should you not be satisfied with the decision you can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman which is currently overturning 54% of cases in favour of the consumer.

More on the FCA website regarding claiming for PPI refunds

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

For help in most complaint scenarios see How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for guidance, tips, advice, laws and template letters for all you need to know in getting redress!