Couple gets €90,000 compensation after bank acts obstructively

Financial services ombudsman critical of providers who do not engage with customers

Ger Deering: “I have found that it is still the case that some providers are not willing to listen to or engage sufficiently with their customers”

Ger Deering: “I have found that it is still the case that some providers are not willing to listen to or engage sufficiently with their customers”

 

A couple whose lender became obstructive after they fell into arrears with their buy-to-let mortgage, were awarded €90,000 in compensation last year after a ruling by the financial services watchdog.

This was just one of a number of legally-binding decisions made by the financial services and pensions ombudsman, Ger Deering.

In that instance, the ombudsman said it was clear the couple had tried to engage with their lender, who put up obstacles including appointing a receiver to their property.

Mr Deering criticised the actions of some financial services providers, who he said do not act in the interests of their customers and are unwilling to engage with them to resolve disputes.

He was speaking as his office for the first time published some of the decisions his office ruled on last year.

These include awarding €3,750 to a customer whose bank opened a new account without her consent or knowledge, and awarding compensation of €3,000 to a man who lost his no-claims bonus after reporting a crash caused by an uninsured driver.

Correction

Other examples include awarding compensation of €7,000 and the correction of an individual’s credit rating after a lender failed to inform him that his loan had not been fully paid off despite it ceasing to collect direct debit payments.

Mr Deering said his office dealt with a wide range of complaints relating to insurance, banking, pensions, credit facilities and investments during the year.

His office received close to 6,000 complaints from members of the public in 2018 and on Thursday published 228 decisions. While many complaints were resolved through mediation, 234 required a full investigation that resulted in a legally-binding decision. In the case of 127 of these, the complaint was upheld to some extent, while 107 were not upheld.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) welcomed the publication of the decisions, saying the report will “play an important role in assisting financial service providers and consumers in both avoiding and resolving disputes”.

Failed to abide

Mr Deering said that at the end of last year just one financial services provider had failed to abide by his decision to pay €1,450 in compensation to a complainant.

The ombudsman has the power to direct providers to pay compensation of up to €500,000 to a complainant and to rectify any hardship created as a result of their actions.

“It is clear from the decisions I am publishing today that some providers do not always act in the best interests of their customers,” said Mr Deering.

“I have found that it is still the case that some providers are not willing to listen to or engage sufficiently with their customers in order to resolve disputes. Where disputes are not resolved by agreement, I will continue to use the extensive powers available to me to investigate and adjudicate complaints in a transparent and impartial manner,” he added.