More than 200 complaints against banks and insurers were upheld by the sector’s watchdog with compensation in one case reaching €35,000 after a lender overcharged a couple interest on their loan.
The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) dealt with 439 complaints by way of formal investigation last year with 201 either fully, substantially or partially upheld.
The FSPO deals with a wide range of complaints relating to insurance, banking, credit facilities, investments and pensions.
One couple, Maitiú and Mary, were awarded €35,000 in compensation after they hired an audit company to identify whether they had been overcharged for interest. The company found the bank had overcharged them by €23,751.37.
In another case, an individual named as Kawa was awarded €9,000 after a car insurer cancelled his policy when a document requested by them was blocked by their own firewall.
The FSPO also deals with smaller sums, and awarded €300 in compensation after an insurer rejected a claim to pay veterinary costs for a dog due to the pet’s weight.
“I believe that these decisions play a very important role in improving the conduct of financial service providers,” the ombudsman Ger Deering, said.
“The decisions published give a sense of the breadth and complexity of the issues we address and resolve. I hope that having access to these decisions will assist consumers and their advocates and financial service providers to avoid and resolve disputes,” he said.
The FSPO also published some complaints that were not upheld. In the case of Ahmad, a request for a change of address on a current account was not acted upon for more than three months and correspondence relating to his account was sent to a previous address where it was “open and interfered with”. Ahmad complained of poor customer service and sought compensation of €17,500 and a letter of apology. The bank said it received Ahmad’s request and responded to him the same day seeking proof of his new address, which wasn’t received until four months later. The ombudsman did not uphold the complaint on the basis that the bank was entitled to require proof.
This round of complaints does not include tracker mortgage decisions, and the ombudsman has decided to separately publish 25 tracker decisions by the beginning of March. That decision was taken to illustrate the “breadth and complexity of the issues raised”, the FSPO said.
The FSPO deals with complaints informally at first by listening to both parties and engaging with them to facilitate a resolution that is acceptable to both. When those interventions don’t resolve a dispute, the FSPO investigates the complaint and issues a legally-binding decision on both parties which can be appealed to the High Court. Only six of the 673 decisions issued to date have been appealed.
The ombudsman can direct a financial service provider to pay compensation of up to €500,000 to a complainant.