A customer who was compensated $ 3,000 for the way his bank handled his financial difficulties was among more than 10,000 who complained about the service they received last year.
The Bank Ombudsman Program operates an industry dashboard, tracking data from all banks. Part of the complaints, which cannot be resolved directly by the bank and the customer, are investigated by the system.
For the year 2020, banks said they had received more than 100,000 complaints.
In the last quarter of the year, they registered 27,800, and almost half were related to service issues.
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In one case, a man incurred credit card debt after quitting his job for another, but this new position was unsuccessful.
He tried to withdraw his KiwiSaver funds to help, but the provider told him to ask his bank for help first. He called and asked the bank to confirm that they could not provide him with assistance, but he was told that the bank did not keep this kind of letter on file.
A few months later, the bank issued a formal notice to repay its debt in full. His staff had tried to call him, write to him and email him.
When the debt was not paid by the due date, the bank referred it to a collection agency.
The man read the letters from the bank on his return from several months of absence. He filed a formal complaint that the bank had not made adequate attempts to contact him and also requested personal information. This customer communication has been lost and nothing has been done about the complaint or request.
He raised the issue again six months later after debt collectors started contacting him and the bank began investigating. He made two other requests for information, but these were not answered either.
The bank eventually offered to reduce the debt by $ 1,600 and pay $ 1,000 for the inconvenience resulting from its inability to respond to its first request for information within the allotted time. Rather, he turned to the banking mediator. The scheme ruled that the bank failed to inform the man of his rights under the provisions of the Credit Agreements and Consumer Finance Act.
âIf he wasn’t able to offer him help, the bank was required to notify him in writing – and he would have had the letter he needed for his KiwiSaver request. “
He said his KiwiSaver funds could not have been used for credit card debts, but the bank had “inadequately responded to his original complaint.”
“He had also failed to respond to his first request for information in a timely manner and had failed to respond to his other two requests for information at all.”
He received $ 3,000 in compensation for the stress and inconvenience.
âCommunication is a very common theme in service complaints,â said banking ombudsman Nicola Sladden. âUnder the Code of Banking Practice, banks are required to treat customers fairly and reasonably, and to communicate clearly and effectively. Some customers will need additional help, and all customers need to be heard, understood and answered. ”
The program had received over 100 KiwiSaver complaints in the past three months, and difficulties were the most common theme.
Another 10 percent of complaints were about contact centers, but Sladden said these were usually resolved quickly.
The Trade Commission’s 2020 list of most criticized industries reflects the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
About 10 percent were for personal transaction accounts. In one case, a woman attempted to deposit a foreign check into an account she held with her brother.
The cashier mistakenly told her that they both had to sign before the deposit could be made.
She tried again two days later and received the same response. She became frustrated and the bank wrote to her, telling her that her behavior was unacceptable and that she would consider closing her accounts.
She complained to the ombudsman and was offered compensation of $ 50 from the bank, and said there would be training for the staff.
But a month later, she received the same problem with two other cashiers. She told the manager that she had recorded her interactions with the staff and that she would complain.
But the bank told her it was closing her account because of her “abusive” behavior and questioned the legality of her registration.
She did not respond to the complaint she had filed because she was closing her accounts.
Sladden said a bank can end its relationship with a customer at any time.
But the regime founds that in this case the proper procedure was not followed. The pictures showed that the customer had been reasonable.
“We were concerned that the bank had not responded to [her] complaint, especially since the bank acted badly with regard to the foreign check. We were also concerned about the bank’s response to [her] audio recording. The bank showed no interest in listening to her and instead threatened her with legal action against him. We do not share the bank’s view on the illegality of the registration and have expressed our concern that the bank is threatening it with legal action.
It was recommended that she be compensated for the stress and inconvenience caused.
Sladden said loan complaints still featured prominently. About 8 percent of complaints were about home loans and the same was about credit cards.
âThe Banking Ombudsman Scheme can investigate the loan application process and determine if the loan was responsible.
âWhen assessing loan applications, banks should take into account all the relevant information they have. If the application is incomplete or if anything in it suggests that the information is incorrect, the bank should do further research.
The banking ombudsman does not reveal the identity of the complainant or the bank.