The consultation draft of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Bill ("the bill") has been released. It proposes wide-ranging changes to the law and has implications reaching beyond just providers of consumer credit.
Many members will say they have never had a complaint, and are unlikely to. Most consumers think that the whole business of making a complaint is too hard-from who to talk to with authority, to formulating a written commentary that is going to be taken seriosuly. Both parties are missing each other and missing a golden opportunity to improve their lot - if only they understood that it is not as hard as it seems.
FDR's Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2012 reports increasing complaint enquiry and dispute resolution, the benefits of early intervention, some interesting case studies, a growing memberships, low consumer awareness and a concern at some systemic issues presenting.
A group of specialised complaint handling organisations has developed resources for teaching the language of complaint to new speakers of English. The resources are available free online for anyone to use.
The overwhelming majority of complaints received in the 12 months to 30 June have been about financial service providers' failure to follow their customers instructions, making unauthorised transactions on their customers accounts or customers are not happy about their financial provider's decision.
Yet we found that in most cases the scheme member was acting within the terms and conditions that their customer had willingly and often over exuberantly entered into with them.
The number of complaints escalating to disputes remains very low. Since the scheme began 1st October 2010, only two adjudicated decisions have been made and case closed.
One dispute involved a mortgage adviser allegedly not following instructions; and the other an insurance adviser in quite a complex case involving several complaints including insurer's decision, misrepresentation and poor communication.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA) has recently launched a radio and billboard campaign in South Auckland and Porirua to raise awareness among credit consumers about obtaining redress through the dispute resolution schemes for any issues they may have with their finance companies.
FDR has published its first annual report. The document gives an overview of the scheme's progress in its first 10 months of operation, along with a Scheme Manager and Scheme Adjudicator report. The report covers the period from 1 October 2010 to 30 June 2011. The full report can be viewed here.
The Reserve Bank advises that caution should be exercised by anyone considering doing any form of business with entities that promote themselves as "New Zealand offshore finance companies", or use similar descriptions, and that offer financial services either on-line or from locations outside of New Zealand.