Home' Financial Ombudsman Service Annual Review : 2011-2012 Annual Review Contents 19
Financial Ombudsman Service 2011-2012 Annual Review
How we count disputes
Internal and external dispute resolution
The first stage of our dispute resolution process
-- Registration -- gives the financial services provider
(FSP) a chance to try to resolve the dispute with
its customer using its complaint handling system.
This is called internal dispute resolution (IDR).
If IDR fails to resolve the dispute to the consumer's
satisfaction, then they can come to us as an independent
external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme approved
by ASIC. We will use conciliation or negotiation or
make an initial assessment of the dispute. If these
methods do not resolve the dispute, we will investigate
the case further and make a formal decision about it.
What we record about complaints referred for IDR
FOS is an EDR service and we record substantial
information about disputes that are in the EDR stages
of the dispute resolution process. At Registration,
our aim is to refer the dispute to the relevant FSP
as quickly as possible. We lodge the dispute in our
system, record some basic information, and then send
the details to the FSP.
What we record about disputes requiring EDR
In the Acceptance stage of our process, we assess
whether a dispute is within our jurisdiction and we
record extensive information about it. We classify
it according to the product(s) or service(s) it relates to,
the issue(s) it raises, and the sales or service channel(s)
through which the consumer bought the product(s) or
service(s) in dispute. Having such detailed information
about disputes makes it easier for us to resolve them.
It also enables us to report accurately and thoroughly
about the disputes we have dealt with.
What we record about disputes involving multiple
issues or products
Many disputes are about one type of product/service
and involve one issue. But some disputes are about
more than one product/service or more than one
issue. For example, a consumer might complain
about problems they have encountered with their
loan facility (product A) and about funds they believe
have been inappropriately withdrawn from their cash
management account (product B), which is not related
to their loan facility.
The approach we usually take is to establish one case
file but to record the fact that more than one product
has been complained about and that more than one
issue has been raised. This is an important aspect
of both case management and dispute resolution.
It ensures all aspects of a dispute are considered
and it provides an accurate picture of the causes
of a customer's concerns.
However, it also means that there are two ways that
we can count and report on disputes. We can count
a dispute that involves multiple products and issues
as a single dispute, because it comes from one
consumer and we hold one case file on it. Alternatively,
we can count it as multiple disputes: one for each
product or distinct issue in dispute. Which of these
counting methods we use depends on what we
are reporting on -- as explained further below.
Reporting the total numbers of disputes
When we report the total number of disputes we
received or resolved, we count each case as one
dispute even if it is about multiple products and issues.
This is the best way of presenting FOS's overall dispute
input and output in a year. We have used this counting
method in the following sections and charts of this review:
• Total disputes received (page 20)
• Total disputes resolved (page 22)
• Who lodged disputes (page 30)
We also used this counting method in the following
sections/charts that deal with three special categories
• Financial Difficulty Disputes -- 'Financial difficulty
disputes received by year’ chart (page 51)
• Legal Proceedings Disputes -- 'Legal proceedings
disputes received by year’ table (page 53)
• Natural Disaster Disputes (page 55)
Reporting about products, issues and
When we analyse the products, issues and sales/
service channels involved in disputes, we count a
case that is about more than one distinct issue as two
disputes -- one for each issue. This is the only way we
can give an accurate picture of the proportions of
disputes that involve each product and issue.
We have used this counting method in the following
sections of this review:
• What the disputes were about (page 26)
• Credit Disputes (page 33)
• General Insurance Disputes (page 36)
• Investment Disputes (page 39)
• Payment System Disputes (page 43)
• Deposit Taking Disputes (page 45)
• Life Insurance Disputes (page 47)
• Traditional Trustee Service Disputes (page 49)
• Financial Difficulty Disputes -- product category,
issue and sales/service channel charts (page 51)
• Legal Proceedings Disputes -- product category,
issue and sales/service channel charts (page 53).
The sections about the disputes relating to our seven
product lines (pages 33 to 50) and to legal proceeding
disputes (page 53) focus on accepted disputes -- that
is, disputes that reached the Acceptance stage of our
dispute resolution process. We have sufficient data
on the accepted disputes to break them down by
product, issue and sales/service channel.
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