As it stands the UK definition of a complaint is currently:

We treat as a complaint any expression of dissatisfaction with our service which calls for a response

Now as far as I'm aware you have to proceed with a complaints handling process if a complaint is submitted. However, if feedback was submitted into a form but fits the definition of a complaint would the same procedure need to be carried out?

I've searched the .gov website and I've found this page which shows me how they handle complaints but they do not openly advertise how to get here. (I did a Google search) Whereas other companies openly have the link in the footer.

Do both forms need to be equally visible if presented on a website? Could you for example have a feedback form on the main page but put a link to your complaints form in the footer?

2 Answers 2


In the UK, if you're in a regulated sector e.g. financial services or health services, there are obligations relating to complaints handling. E.g. the Financial Conduct Authority sets out complaints handling rules in DISP 1.3.

The FCA says a complaint is:

any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, from, or on behalf of, a person about the provision of, or failure to provide, a financial service, claims management service or a redress determination, which: (a) alleges that the complainant has suffered (or may suffer) financial loss, material distress or material inconvenience; and (b) relates to an activity of that respondent, or of any other respondent with whom that respondent has some connection in marketing or providing financial services or products or claims management services, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

So if there is "feedback" expressing "dissatisfaction" etc it is a complaint.

Some entities have acted such that they seem to believe a complaint must be submitted through 'proper channels' to be a complaint. E.g. a complaints form online, a complaints@companydomain email address or a letter addressed to the Complaints Department. Is that the distinction you are making?

But that is not the case in regulated organisations, where a complaint is "any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction..."

Now, in such an organisation you're not obliged to have a particular type of form or email address etc. But you are obliged to make the complaints procedure relatively easy and reasonably priced if not free (i.e. premium rate phone number for the complaints line = bad, local rate or freephone number = OK).


You have no legal obligation to accept, acknowledge, respond to or in any way deal with complaints

You can practice poor customer service if you like providing you comply with the law.

  • 2
    In the UK then this doesn't appear to be true for some businesses in regulated markets. Most financial businesses, for example, are legally obliged to investigate complaints and respond within a set time. Source Feb 19, 2020 at 10:23

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