In September 2019, a customer complained to their bank about a decision to replace their credit card because the bank had been notified by the card scheme provider that the card’s security may have been compromised.
While the complaint was being resolved, the customer contacted the BCCC to report the issue regarding the replacement of the card and provided copies of their correspondence with the bank.
As part of its response to the customer’s complaint, the bank referred the customer to the BCCC. The bank did not refer the customer to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). However, the customer did separately confirm they were considering lodging a complaint with AFCA.
The BCCC reviewed the customer’s allegations through its Triage and Assessment procedure and exercised its discretion not to investigate the customer’s individual issue. However, because the bank had only recently become a subscriber to the Banking Code at that time, the BCCC decided to conduct a targeted inquiry into concerns that when the bank was unable to resolve the customer’s complaint to their complete satisfaction, it referred the customer to the BCCC rather than AFCA.
Clause 195 of the Banking Code states:
If we [the bank] are unable to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, we will give you information on how you can take your complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
In response to the BCCC’s inquiry, the bank provided details of its complaints handling policies and processes and how it complies with the Code. The bank confirmed that its complaints handling procedure, associated training and other policies and processes do not direct customers to the BCCC as a referral or escalation point. The bank’s complaints procedure outlined escalation points within the bank’s complaints process, including referrals to AFCA. The bank also confirmed that following an internal review of a sample of complaints received between 1 July 2019 and 31 December 2019, it had not identified any other instances of staff failing to provide customers with information about AFCA. Further, the bank did not find evidence of staff referring any other customers to the BCCC as an escalation point in the management of their complaints.
Based on the information provided, the BCCC was satisfied that the bank’s complaints handling process, associated training, and other policies and procedures do not direct customers to the BCCC as the first point of escalation. The BCCC exercised its discretion to conclude the inquiry without making a formal finding on the matter.
For further information about the BCCC’s approach to targeted inquiries, please see the BCCC’s Operating Procedures.