Dealing directly with banks and other financial services providers to resolve disputes is usually more effective than asking the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to step in. That is the finding of the FOS's assessment of its 2009/10 year of operation. The finding follows the establishment of an FOS dispute resolution process in January 2010, which operates as a free one-stop shop for financial complaints. It brought together several complaints schemes under the one scheme. An Early Resolution Team has also been formed to handle disputes in the early stages of the process.
FOS points out that, “in most cases, the consumer and the financial services provider can work together to resolve their dispute”. FOS's new service has helped clear up 27% more disputes than in 2008-09.
In a similar move, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) offers companies a tradeoff – less paperwork for faster resolutions. If financial service providers clear up disputes “to the customer’s complete satisfaction” within five business days, they don’t have to provide final reports.
“This gives participants greater flexibility where the complaints are relatively straightforward, involve small sums, or relate to a customer service issue that can be resolved quickly,” ASIC says.
Key findings of the 2009/10 annual review
- 23,790 new disputes, up 6% on the previous year
- 21,543 disputes resolved, up 27% on the previous year
- 226,825 calls received by the FOS call centre
See the FOS comparative tables, showing disputes data about named financial services providers.