Complaining about your mortgage or endowment can be a drawn out affair of phone calls, letter writing and waiting. But if there is a problem with your policy which can be linked to unsuitable advice given by the provider, the matter should be addressed. You can't complain about how your endowment has performed in the marketplace but you can complain about how it was sold to you.

The main point is whether the financial product in question was really suitable for you at the time, whether you understood the policy you were undertaking and the risks involved. Your complaint should be dealt with seriously if the salesman did not explain that the policy as a share-based investment and that the predicted payout was not guaranteed.

You also have a good case if you were assured that the policy would pay off the mortgage and provide extra, but instead it is falling short, or if you were single when you took out the policy and did not require the life assurance element of the endowment or the salesman failed to make it clear that life assurance was included in the policy.

You also have good grounds for a complaint if your endowment matures after your retirement date and the person who sold you the policy did not point this out, or if they told you that the policy would be worth enough by retirement to pay off the mortgage.

Making a Complaint
The first place to direct your complaint should be the company which sold the endowment to you. If you are not sure whether that was the endowment company itself, your lender or another financial adviser, complain to all of them. You cannot take a complaint of this nature straight to the Financial Ombudsman, you have to complain to the relevant firm first.

State your complaint as clearly as you can, quoting any policy numbers or customer references. Explain what has happened and work chronologically, enclosing copies of any relevant documents, and try to communicate by writing as much as possible since then you have a record of who said what when. If you do speak to anyone on the phone, take down their name and take a note of what was said. Follow up with a letter which confirms your phone conversation.

What Next?
If you feel that your complaint has not been appropriately dealt with after eight weeks of your first contact, you can go directly to the ombudsman. However, some companies are being given longer to deal with complaints because they are so busy. If this is the case you will receive a letter telling you how long you should expect to wait.

If you are offered compensation, enquire about how the compensation is calculated, and do not feel pressured into accepting it unless it is an acceptable offer. The compensation should put you in the position you might have been in had you taken out a repayment mortgage.

If you aren't happy with the company's response, contact the independent complaints services provided by the Financial Ombudsman. It is free, and if you're still not happy you can persue your complaint in the courts.