We've designed our complaints process so we can resolve your complaint quickly and fairly.
Step 1: Tell us what's wrong
You do not need a lawyer at any point during the complaints process.
Step 2: We contact your bank (if you haven't done so already)
Your bank must have the opportunity to sort out your complaint before we look into it. If you've been to your bank and you're unhappy with the outcome, you've come to the right place (go straight to step 5). If you haven't been to your bank yet, that's fine, too. We'll refer your complaint to your bank's complaints team and let you know by phone, email or letter what happens next.
Step 3: Your bank tries to fix your problem
Your bank will get in touch with you directly to try to sort out your complaint. It may make you an offer of settlement. You don't have to accept it, but you should at least consider it carefully. You're welcome to call us to discuss any offer or to ask any questions as you go through your bank’s complaints-handling process. If you accept the bank’s offer, it will be what's called a "full and final settlement" of your complaint. That means we can't investigate your complaint, and you can't change your mind or go back to the bank for a better offer, or take the matter to court.
Step 4: You're still unhappy and contact us
If you're not satisfied with your bank's final response to your complaint, or your bank hasn't resolved your complaint within three months, get in touch with us. Note that you have three months from when you receive your bank's final response to contact us. If you don't, we may not be able to help.
Step 5: We assign a contact person
We assign one of our team to your case. This person is your point of contact. Always go to him or her if you have any questions. We will generally contact you within a week to get more details about your complaint.
Step 6: We gather information
We'll be in touch with you and your bank to get more information. It could be by phone, email or letter. Having all the information allows us to be fair to both sides. We will ask your permission for your bank to release information about you. (That's because it has a duty to keep your information confidential unless you agree otherwise.)
You can ask us to pass on to you any information the bank gives us, and we will also pass on to the bank any information you give us. Let us know if you are concerned about us sharing your information with your bank. Unless we have your consent, we will not share your personal information with any person or organisation other than your bank.
We expect you and your bank to give us the information we seek within two weeks. This helps us resolve your complaint as promptly as possible.
Step 7: We apply our rules to your case
We examine your complaint in light of our rules, or terms of reference. These rules set out the types of complaints we can consider. In rare cases, we may not be able to consider your complaint. See complaints we can consider for more information on complaints we can and can’t consider, or take a look at our terms of reference.
Step 8: We try to facilitate an agreement
We try to get you and your bank to come to an agreement that resolves the complaint. Sometimes we act as a go-between in negotiations between you and the bank. At other times, we simply give our view on what we think would be reasonable to resolve the complaint. A mutually agreed outcome often allows you and your bank to come to arrangements that are beyond our powers to recommend. A facilitated outcome can include:
- an apology
- waiving bank fees
- reducing your debt
- repaying your loan under a new arrangement
- restructuring your loan
- getting a better interest rate
- recalling a debt from a collection agency
- removing a default listing.
We've found that facilitation resolves complaints more quickly and leaves customers more satisfied with the outcome.
Step 9: We make a decision
If you and your bank can't reach an agreement, we'll make a decision. This has two steps. First, we'll tell you our preliminary view and give you and your bank the chance to comment or give us new information. After that, we'll make our decision.
It's up to you (not your bank) to accept or reject our decision. If you accept our decision, it is binding on your bank. If you don't accept it, you can take your complaint elsewhere, including to the courts. Our decision is final, and you have no right of appeal.
We can award compensation of up to $350,000 for direct financial loss, and up to $9,000 for inconvenience, stress, embarrassment or disruption to financial planning.
We can also make non-monetary awards. These can include:
- forgiving or varying a debt, including varying the applicable interest rate on a loan
- varying, rectifying, setting aside or reinstating a contract
- releasing a security for debt
- meeting a claim under an insurance policy by, for example repairing, reinstating or replacing items of property
- removing an incorrect default listing.