The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has released its complaint statistics for the last financial year, showing a heavy spike in COVID complaints towards the end of the period.
The areas where spikes were obviously COVID-19-related occurred in relation to complaints about travel insurance and early access to superannuation.
AFCA chief executive David Locke said the authority was able to learn from some of the problems that emerged early in the pandemic and help resolve some of those concerns ahead of time as pressure points became apparent.
“With so many travel plans impacted, it was inevitable that there would be a big increase in travel insurance claims as well as disputes regarding ‘chargeback’ requests on credit cards,” Mr Locke said.
“With the early access to superannuation, complaints initially related to delays in payments.
“It was challenging for many superannuation funds to process such a high number of requests in a short period of time.
“AFCA worked proactively with the funds to resolve consumer concerns as they arose and to learn any lessons before the second phase of withdrawal requests commenced in early July 2020.
“This resulted in far fewer complaints during the second early release application period and it meant consumers were able to get their money sooner.”
The figures reveal that the AFCA received a total of 76,880 financial complaints in the financial year 2019/20, resulting in $246.1 million in compensation being paid to complainants. Around half of those complaints were resolved once the financial institution was made aware of the complaint, without the need for the matter to proceed further.
Banks accounted for the largest proportion of complaints (28,176), followed by general insurers (15,665), credit providers (9720) and superannuation funds (6135).
The top seven postcodes with the most financial complaints were all in NSW or Victoria.
Sydney topped the list with 720 complaints, followed by 530 complaints from Terrigal on the NSW central coast.
The western suburbs of both Melbourne and Sydney were well represented, with Werribee (529), Liverpool (487), Hoppers Crossing (462) and Parramatta (409) all featuring highly.
Of the big four banks, the Commonwealth Bank was the most complained about bank, receiving 6582 complaints, followed by ANZ (4628), NAB (4260) and Westpac (3351).
Mr Locke praised banks for responding to requests for loan deferrals and encouraged people in financial difficulty because of the pandemic to seek help immediately, rather than wait.
“If you are struggling to make repayments, we urge you to contact your bank to discuss the best long-term solution for your circumstances,” Mr Locke said.
“The banks have committed to being fair and reasonable in dealings with consumers and to tailor solutions to their individual needs. It’s never a good idea to ignore calls and contact from your bank or lender.”
Did you make a complaint to the AFCA in the last financial year? Did you have your complaint resolved?
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