Most complainers have ‘poor opinion’ of financial companies

Complaints process study finds just 39% of people happy with treatment

More than half of consumers who complain about financial companies are unsatisfied with their treatment under new grievance procedures set out by the Central Bank.

Research into the nascent complaints process found just 39 per cent of people to be satisfied with how their issues were dealt with while 41 per cent said they felt fairly treated.

The findings are part of Central Bank research looking at consumer perceptions of complaints handling mechanisms built into the Consumer Protection Code 2012.

“The majority of complainants had a poor opinion of several aspects of the complaints process,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.


Where criticisms are not dealt with satisfactorily, the study found, service providers can suffer.

Almost one in five customers (18 per cent) said they ended up switching company following the process while just over half said they were less likely to go to the same firm for another product or service.

"Some of the findings of this research cause concern in this respect, particularly in relation to consumers being treated fairly and being satisfied with how their complaint was handled," said Bernard Sheridan, director of consumer protection.

The research also found 52 per cent of complainants who were given a named contact during the process were satisfied, compared to 29 per cent who were not.

“Knowledge, experience and authority” proved to be important factors for the majority of people involved in grievance procedures.

Unsurprisingly, half of those making complaints said a timely resolution was among the more important aspects.

“In [OUR]2015 Outlook Report we highlighted how complaints handling, when dealt with in an open fair and transparent way, can represent an opportunity for firms to restore confidence in their relationships with consumers,” Mr Sheridan said.

“This includes, being able to identify the root causes of problems to ensure that they are being resolved in a timely manner, as well as having a robust procedure that can deal with individual consumer complaints.”

Confidence in the process is also a factor. Of those who did make a complaint when they had cause to do so, insufficient faith the issue could be resolved was cited by 43 per cent of people.

Another 32 per cent said they didn’t think they would be treated fairly while others said a lack of time or knowhow was the reason for keeping quiet.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times