Monday 19 March 2018

Bulk of bank complaints get rejected

Bill Prasifka
Bill Prasifka

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

THERE have been calls for a new method for consumers to make complaints after it emerged that they lose eight of out 10 disputes raised with the financial services ombudsman.

Ombudsman Bill Prasifka told the Oireachtas Finance committee yesterday that there were a number of reasons for the high rejections rate.

But Senator Aideen Hayden of Labour said there was "something wrong with the system" when so many cases were being turned down.

Just 202 complaints by consumers were fully upheld in the second half of last year, out of a total of 3,042.

Deputy Pearse Doherty of Sinn Fein said the financial ombudsman in Britain had a far higher level of consumers winning cases.

Mr Prasifka told TDs and senators that banks were aware of the previous findings of his office and tended to settle cases they expected to lose.

He also defended the low level of complaint cases won by consumers by stressing that consumers were in financial distress and this was driving up complaints by banks. He said there had been a "paradigm shift" and people no longer had respect for financial institutions.

Mr Prasifka said the British system was less formal with fewer legal constraints on the ombudsman. A one-page decision can be issued in England, but here some determinations run to 20,000 words, he said.

In relation to mortgages, the ombudsman provides an appeals mechanism for those who lose an appeal to the bank after they were made a repayment offer when they cannot meet the agreed mortgage repayments.

But the ombudsman said he was not allowed to change the terms of a deal offered to a distressed mortgage holder, and could only check if the bank followed the proper process.

Irish Independent

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