We like to believe that if we have a gripe with a financial services company, or any company for that matter, that our complaint will we dealt with efficiently. Sometimes however, our gripes can fall on deaf ears. These deaf ears are collectively known as call centre agents. Even If you manage to get past these corporate gatekeepers and grab the ear of a supervisor, your complaint may still end up between a phone and a screen. If you have put your gripe in emails, letters, sms’s, face book and tied them to balloons – to no avail, is time to call in the heavy artillery.
Regulatory Bodies and Industry Associations have been set up to assist consumers get fair and proper treatment. If you have been stonewalled you can contact one of these agencies for help. Here is a list of the associations and what they do.
Association for Savings and Investment in SA (ASISA). ASISA represents the majority of South Africa’s life insurance companies, asset managers, collective investment scheme management companies, linked investment service providers and multi-managers. The members of ASISA have mandated this association to pro-actively engage with the policymaker and regulator, as well as intermediaries and consumers on regulatory and other important issues of common concern. They do not handle complaints directly but they can refer you to the correct authority for your complaints.
Financial Services Board (FSB): The FSB regulates the non-banking aspects of the financial services industry, including financial advisory and intermediary services, insurance, retirement funds and collective investment schemes. You can contact them if you have been unfairly treated by one of the above organisations or if you believe you have been a victim of a financial scam.
National Credit Regulator (NCR). The NCR was established under the National Credit Act and is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. It is tasked with carrying out education, research, policy development, registration, investigation of complaints, and enforcing the Act. If you believe you have been a victim of reckless lending, or been subjected to dubious practices of a debt councillor, you can file a complaint with them.
Pensions Fund Adjudicator (PFA): The office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator was established to investigate and adjudicate on complaints in terms of the Pension Funds Act.
Ombudsman for Long Term Insurance: This office mediates in disputes between insurers and policyholders.
FAIS Ombudsman: The FAIS Ombud considers and addresses complaints by clients against financial services providers in terms of the FAIS Act.
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA): The South African National Consumer Protection Act (CPA) came into effect on 1 April 2011. The Act is aimed at promoting fairness, openness and good business practice between the suppliers of goods or services and consumers of such goods and services. All suppliers of goods and services need to comply with the Act. The Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector is a provincial protection agency that provides information, education and redress to consumers within the province. You can contact their office in your area to lodge a complaint against a supplier.
Estate Agents Affair Board (EAAB) The board was established in 1976 in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act 112 of 1976 (‘the Act”), with the mandate to regulate and control certain activities of estate agents in the public interest. The EAAB regulates the estate agency profession through ensuring that all persons carrying out the activities of an estate agent as a service to the public are registered with the EAAB. A Fidelity Fund Certificate, which is to be renewed each year is issued as evidence of such registration and confirmation that such person is legally entitled to carry out the activities of an estate agent. You can contact them if you have a complaint against an estate agent.
While these organisations are set up to assist you, you must also play your part. Put the complaint in writing, give dates, names and as much detail as possible. Leave out the emotion, name calling and expletives, it will just take them longer to read it. If you engage these organisations be prepared to wait, they are not known for speed. Constant follow up is vital, the person who nags the most gets the most attention.