All AFS licensees and authorised representatives are required to have in place appropriate internal means of handling their customer complaints.
Licensees are also required under the Corporation Law to join an external complaints resolution scheme approved by ASIC. This is designed to provide consumers with a relatively quick and cost effective means of resolving complaints (See NICRI leaflet Dispute Resolution Schemes).
Consumers must have their complaint dealt with under this internal system before they can have it dealt with under the external complaints resolution scheme. The guidelines provide that the complaint must be made in writing and processed within a specified time.
External Dispute Resolution
Nearly all financial services businesses must belong to an external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme. EDR schemes hear complaints free of charge and can be a simpler alternative to resolving disputes in court. The financial service business must tell you which scheme it is a member of. Nearly all financial services businesses must belong to an external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme. EDR schemes hear complaints free of charge and can be a simpler alternative to resolving disputes in court. The financial service business must tell you which scheme it is a member of.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) provides a dispute resolution service approved by ASIC for consumers and the Australian banking, insurance and investment industries.
FOS seeks to resolve disputes through negotiation, conciliation or determination as fairly and quickly as possible. The service is provided free to consumers. The disputes they cover include baning, general insurance, financial planning/advice, stockbroking, finance and lending, managed investments, timeshare and mortgage and finance broking.
Within FOS there is the Banking and Finance (Ombudsman) Division, the Credit Union Dispute Resolution Centre, the Investments, Life Insurance and Superannuation Division and the General Insurance Division. FOS will direct your complaint to the appropriate service. Details of monetary limits and exclusions may be found in the Terms of Reference. The Terms of Reference of each of the divisions and lists of members can be obtained from FOS.
The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) which covers superannuation issues outside the jurisdiction of FOS can also be contacted via the FOS phone line.
In all cases it is necessary to initially raise the matter, in writing, with the organisation with which you have a dispute. If not satisfied with the response, you can then refer the matter to FOS.
The decisions handed down by FOS are binding on members but not on consumers who are free to pursue complaints further through the courts. You may be responsible for any costs you incur in obtaining your own independent advice or legal representation.
The Credit Ombudsman Service (COSL) offers consumers an accessible, independent and fair dispute resolution (EDR) service, approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
COSL has over 14,500 participating members who operate in a variety of financial service sectors. Members include credit unions, building societies, non-bank lenders, mortgage and finance brokers, financial planners, investment managers, debt services and a wide range of other financial services and product providers.
The aim of the service is to provide consumers with a free and impartial dispute resolution service as an alternative to legal proceedings for resolving complaints with their financial service and product providers.
Complaints COSL look at
COSL may be able to help you if you believe, as a consumer or a small business, that a COSL Member has:
COSL is able to make recommendations for compensation up to $250,000.00.
For full details of types of complaints covered by the Credit Ombudsman Service, refer to the COSL rules at http://www.cosl.com.au/rules-and-guidelines.
COSL contact number: 1800 138 422
COSL fax number: (02) 9273 8440
COSL e-mail: www.cosl.com.au/Contact
COSL website: www.cosl.com.au