Increasingly, Australians are finding themselves in disputes with their banks – from our credit products, our insurance policies, our investments and our payment systems. Common complaints are about banking errors (both by computers and humans), calculation errors, insufficient or misleading disclosure statements, and conduct that contravene legal codes.
If you find yourself in the midst of a dispute with your bank, follow the below tips to help you gain control of the situation:
1. Be crystal clear
It’s crucial to be clear and concise about what exactly you’re disputing. Be specific by listing the questions you want answered and what actions you’d like to the bank to take.
Make sure to keep records of any conversations you have, as well as copies of all documentation. If you can, carry out your discussions in writing – that way you’ll be able to better avoid misunderstandings about what has been said or requested.
Most importantly, stay calm no matter how angry or upset you might become.
2. Follow protocol
Each of Australia’s major banks and most of our financial institutions are members of the Financial Ombudsman Service, requiring them to have internal dispute resolution procedures. Make sure to familiarise yourself with these before you engage in a dispute – this information can usually be found online or at your bank’s local branch.
3. Escalate if necessary
If you’re not satisfied with the response you receive at branch level, enquire as to how you can escalate the matter. This will usually result in the dispute being sent to head office or the internal dispute department.
Make sure you ask for a specific case worker to be assigned – a consistent point of contact that understands you and your problem and can take ownership of the issue.
4. Stick to the rules
Don’t be tempted to take the moral high ground by stopping payments or failing to meet your contractual obligations. This is always a bad idea – it won’t help your cause, and might result in further financial penalties. Always stick to your obligations unless you have an agreement, in writing, that they will be suspended while the dispute is ongoing.