Consumers and firms should benefit from better complaint handling, as a result of new rules published today by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In addition, financial services firms will be unable to charge their customers premium rates when they make telephone calls to ask for assistance or to complain.
Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said:
“Our rules will help deliver the quicker, easier and fairer resolution to complaints that consumers want. Getting this right is also vital for firms. A properly resolved complaint can keep a customer happy, and protect the firm’s reputation. But, more than that, effective complaints handling systems can act as an early warning system for firms.”
Under the new rules, financial services firms will have longer to resolve complaints less formally. This is intended to allow firms to resolve more complaints first time rather than try to meet the current one day target. Firms will now have three days to address a complaint to a consumer’s satisfaction.
The increased time will allow for better and easier resolution for a greater number of complaints, benefiting both consumers and firms. The FCA also expects this change to result in fewer consumers having to take their complaints further.
If a complaint is resolved during this three day period, firms will be required to send their customers a simpler, template message. This will inform the complainant of their right to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Consumers will also have access to more data on complaints made to financial services companies. Firms will be required to report all complaints to the FCA, which will publish the data and provide additional context to allow consumers to better compare firms. Currently, firms are only required to report complaints to the FCA that take longer than a day to resolve.
From September 2016 the FCA’s biannual complaint data release will change. This new, fuller data set will not be comparable to historic data published by the FCA. However, we believe that the new biannual complaint data publication will be more informative for consumers and industry, and will provide better intelligence to the regulator.
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