Complain to Nationwide and the Financial Ombudsman Service

One line of protest that the campaign hasn’t put forward to our 5,000+ supporters until now is raising a complaint with the society, and then if not handled satisfactorily, referring it to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The grounds for the complaint are quite simple: the proposed acquisition of Virgin Money should be put to a vote under Section 92A of the Building Societies Act (1986), and that by circumventing the law, Nationwide is disenfranchising 16 million members who should rightly have a say on the proposed takeover.

The society has recently disclosed that is relying on a technicality – Virgin Money’s swap income – to deny members a vote. The society has refused to answer any further questions about this, and the campaign has challenged whether the board’s opinion on this matter is “morally and legally safe”. Direct questions put to the society board, requesting that it shares the legal and financial opinions it is relying on with members, have also gone unanswered.

When the same question challenging the legality of not holding a member vote was put to HM Treasury, they responded as follows:

We would encourage you to contact Nationwide’s customer complaints department to express your
dissatisfaction. The FCA’s rules require firms to properly investigate all complaints and,
through ongoing supervision, it continues to monitor firms’ complaint handling processes.

If you are unhappy with Nationwide’s final response, then you may be able to make a
complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service
, which exists to help settle complaints
between consumers and businesses that provide financial services.

HM Treasury response to the campaign, 10 May 2024

Therefore we suggest campaign supporters take this action as recommended by HM Treasury.

We have drafted some suggested text for you to use below.

FIRST: file a complaint with Nationwide

The Nationwide website details the complaints process and ways to file a complaint – via Online Chat, Post, Freephone, Branch, Relay UK or Sign Video. Once your complaint has been successfully logged, you should receive an acknowledgement and a reference number typically in the format NBS1234567.

SECOND: file a complaint with the FOS if not satisfied

Note that once Nationwide has responded to your complaint, if you are not satisfied with the response, you have the legal right to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). When you do this, Nationwide – not you – will incur a £750 fee to handle the complaint, regardless of whether the FOS finds in your favour or not. So aside from the administrative burden, there is a clear economic burden that this form of protest will place on the society. You can complain to the FOS via email, online, by phone or writing direct. See the section titled “How to take your complaint further” near the bottom of the How to make a complaint page on Nationwide’s website.

Proposed complaint text:

I would like to complain that as an eligible member, I am being denied a vote on the proposed acquisition of Virgin Money by Nationwide building society, contrary to the spirit of Section 92A of the Building Societies Act (1986). I do not accept the board's opinion that Virgin Money's swap income should be included for the legal test, as the board has not provided any evidence that this income shares a "connection with loans secured on residential property" , and refuses to answer any further questions or make any further disclosures on the matter.

Complain to Nationwide and the Financial Ombudsman Service

3 thoughts on “Complain to Nationwide and the Financial Ombudsman Service

  1. I am appalled that myself & many thousands of other Nationwide members are being denied a vote on the acquisition of Virgin Money.
    This is not what I would have expected from a fair & transparent building society.

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