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What is a 'complaint'?
The international standard (ISO 10002 – Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations) defines a complaint as:
'an expression of dissatisfaction made to an organization, related to its products, or the complaints handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected'.
ISO 10002 is relevant to any organization that wishes to exceed customer expectations, a basic requirement for businesses of all types and sizes, whether they’re in the private, public or voluntary sectors.
First, complain directly to your financial services provider
You need to give your financial services provider the opportunity to resolve your complaint first.
In most countries, financial services providers are required to have a formal internal dispute resolution (IDR) process.
If the first person you contact at the financial services provider cannot deal with your complaint to your satisfaction, ask to speak with someone else higher up who has the authority to resolve the problem.
Some tips for complaining and getting a result
• Be well prepared and organised before you make the call. This will help you explain your complaint to your financial services provider clearly and confidently. It will also help if you find you need to explain it to the financial services ombudsman.
• Gather together the records you have of what happened and when it happened (or didn't happen). This may include financial statements, emails, letters, telephone conversations.
• Think about the action you want the financial services provider to take to resolve your complaint, and a reasonable time frame in which you expect that action to be taken.
• Ask early on about the financial services provider's IDR process, including its complaint escalation process. This will help you know what you can do if your first contact isn't successful.
• Explain your complaint clearly and calmly (and try to stay calm).
• Take notes of what you are told by the financial service provider.
• If you are not satisfied with your initial contact with the financial services provider, escalate your complaint. Ask to speak with a supervisor or manager, or the provider's internal dispute resolution team. Make sure you know who that is and how to contact them again, in case you find yourself on hold and need to call back later.
• If you are still not satisfied after discussing your complaint with a more senior person, ask what your further options are.
• Ask about the financial services ombudsman scheme or office, or other external dispute resolution service, that can assist you if you remain dissatisfied with your financial services provider's response.
If you have given your financial services provider the opportunity to address your complaint and you remain dissatisfied with its action, you can seek the assistance of a financial services ombudsman.
You don't need to use a claims company or a paid representative.
You can contact the financial services ombudsman's office directly yourself, free of charge.
If there is no INFO Network member in your country,
we suggest the following:
• you should contact your country or state or province's consumer affairs office / citizens advice bureau/ citizens information board / fair trading office (or the office with similar role in handling consumer complaints about businesses)
• you could try contacting the financial services regulator in your country
• if the financial service provider operates in the European Economic Area, one of the members of FIN-NET may be able to assist you - the schemes in FIN-NET co-operate to help consumers with financial complaints that cross borders
The websites of INFO Network members are a valuable source of current information on financial services issues, case studies and the complaint handing performance of financial services providers.
Some links to case studies in English on the websites of our members follow. For case studies in other languages, please check the website of your country's financial services Ombudsman.
• Financial Services Ombudsman, Australia
• Credit and Investments Ombudsman, Australia
• Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, Australia
• Financial Mediation Bureau, Malaysia (under compilation of cases 2011)
• Banking Ombudsman Scheme, (New Zealand)
• Financial Services Complaints Ltd, New Zealand
• Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Scheme, New Zealand
• Ombudsman for Banking Services, South Africa
• Ombud for Financial Services Providers, South Africa
• Ombudsman for Long term Insurance, South Africa
• Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance, South Africa
• Pension Funds Adjudicator, South Africa
• Financial Services Ombudsman,Trinidad and Tobago
• Hellenic Ombudsman for Banking-Investment Services, Greece
(under selected cases)
The annual reports of INFO Network members provide country-specific annual snapshots of financial services complaints, issues, trends and the performance of financial services providers.
Links to annual reports published online:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Hellenic Ombudsman for Banking-Investment Services
Isle of Man
Ombudsman for Financial Services (formerly Financial Mediation Bureau)
making cross-border financial services complaints
FIN-NET is a European network of financial services complaint schemes which helps consumers make cross-border financial services complaints.
Standing out in a web of consumer information
A You-Tube video from INFO Network member, the UK Financial Ombudsman Service, that gets the Ombudsman message across!
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