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Latest results heartening for financial services sector


Latest results heartening for financial services sector and consumers says FSCL CEO

The latest results from dispute resolution scheme Financial Service Complaints Limited (FSCL) demonstrate the scheme and the wider regime are working effectively says FSCL’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Taylor.

Results in the six months to 31 December 2013 show a 110% increase in consumer enquiries to FSCL and a 55% increase in investigations on the same period in 2012. However, only 6.5% of those cases required a formal recommendation– the final step in the dispute resolution process – from FSCL.

“These latest results indicate to me that consumer awareness of FSCL and the dispute resolution regime is continuing to grow, and that our participants are working constructively with their customers to sort out problems,” says Ms Taylor. “That’s good news.”

Ms Taylor says most cases FSCL investigated were resolved early – either settled, or withdrawn after conciliation or negotiation between participants and their customers, with the help of a FSCL case manager.

“This means positive outcomes for both financial service providers and consumers. Coming to an agreement that both sides are happy with is infinitely preferable to us having to make a ruling in one side’s favour,” says Ms Taylor.

The cases FSCL investigated in the last six months show a similar pattern to previous years – with travel insurance once again the product most complained about, followed by consumer credit agreements.

“We saw an interesting case where a complainant, whose international travel plans were disrupted by Wellington’s weather bomb last June, wanted his insurer to refund his additional travel costs. The insurer declined on the basis the complainant knew about the severe weather forecast when he arranged the insurance – the day he departed – and that flights would likely be disrupted,” says Ms Taylor.

“In the end we helped them see eye to eye, and the insurer paid the full amount of the complainant’s claim as a gesture of goodwill.”

Ms Taylor says FSCL had also investigated a case where a couple were unhappy with how long a timeshare club had taken to respond to their hardship application, and wanted out of the contract because they felt the offer had been misrepresented to them.

“We discussed the matter with both sides and looked at what information had been available to the couple before signing up. There was no evidence they’d been misled. However, we facilitated an offer from the club recognising the stress and inconvenience caused by the delay in responding to the couple’s hardship application.”

Full case notes on the examples given above can be found on FSCL’s website:
- A predictable travel disruption? www.fscl.org.nz/case-notes-predictable
- A timeshare is for life www.fscl.org.nz/case-notes-timeshare
Media contact:
Susan Taylor, Chief Executive Officer FSCL
P: (04) 472 3725, M: 021 048 0699

Background
FSCL is an independent not-for-profit external dispute resolution scheme approved by the Minister for Consumer Affairs under the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008. It was the first scheme to be approved and has been designed for and in consultation with the financial services industry on the principles of efficiency and effectiveness. It is governed by an independent Board with equal consumer and industry representatives, and an independent Chair.

FSCL provides dispute resolution services to participating financial service providers and their clients. The FSCL process focuses on resolving complaints through conciliation and assisted negotiation and is also able to make formal determinations which are binding on financial service providers. The FSCL process is free to consumers. For more information on FSCL visit www.fscl.org.nz

The other dispute resolution schemes in the financial services industry are the Banking Ombudsman, the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman and the Government’s reserve scheme, Financial Disputes Resolution. For more information about the financial services disputes resolution regime visit www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/for-consumers/how-to-complain/financial-service-providers-disputes-resolution

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