Frequently Asked Questions - All FAQs
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We need to get certainty of each person's complaint so that there are no misunderstandings between the complainant and ourselves or between the bank and the complainant. We also need to show the bank that we have your permission to see private details of your bank accounts.
Most complaints are resolved within 2 months, however the process can take up to 4 months if a full investigation is done. We will try to finalise the complaint as soon as possible, but certain factors such as the complexity of the complaint may delay the process beyond our target of 4 months. We rely on written communication and try to use the quickest way of sending and receiving letters, but often we must wait for the postal system. We encourage both the banks and the complainants to respond to our letters as soon as possible.
As a complainant, we request you to co-operate with your bank if it contacts you in order to try and resolve your complaint. We also request that you give us as much information as possible so that we can investigate the complaint properly. We also ask you to respond promptly to any queries raised by us to you.
We can accept any complaints about a bank's products or service when the bank has not acted properly in accordance with either the law or the Code of Banking Practice and you have suffered a loss or distress and inconvenience. Examples include maladministration, transaction errors, negligence, breach of contract and fraud.
We cannot assist complainants who refer matters to us where their bank has properly exercised its commercial judgement, such as declining loans or increasing interest rates. We are not a court of law and cannot hear evidence under oath. We therefore will not investigate matters where there are major disputes of fact that would be more suited to being resolved in a court.
We generally only accept complaints regarding acts or omissions of the bank that occurred no more than three years before the complaint was referred to the Ombudsman.
Only bank customers who are individuals or small businesses, trusts or associations who have a turnover of R10 million or less may use our services.
The Ombudsman can make an assessment, which is a suggestion as to how the matter is to be settled without undertaking an investigation. Should the matter not be settled a written recommendation explaining the reasons for the recommendation may be compiled. Should both parties not accept the recommendation, the Ombudsman may make a binding determination, should certain requirements be met.
All the material facts are agreed or the facts have been established on a balance of probabilities.
A recommendation or determination made by the Ombudsman is not binding on the complainant. A complainant is free to exercise his or her right to seek justice elsewhere, for example in the small claims court, consumer court or the civil courts. The complainant may, however, request of the Ombudsman to issue a determination should he or she not accept a recommendation, provided that the requirements as set out above be complied with. The complainant has the right to apply for a review to a panel of retired judges selected by the Board against an adverse determination, provided certain conditions are met.
Once a complainant accepts any form of compensation it is in full and final settlement of the claim and no further claim on the same issue may be instituted again.
Only a review or a determination may be made an order of court.
The panel shall only agree to review a determination if the panel is of the opinion that there is a reasonable prospect that the panel could come to a different finding.
No. The investigation department conducts its enquiries into the complaint by way of writing and asking questions of each party to the complaint and by gathering information in this way to make a finding. Some complaints are more complex and you may be requested to attend a voluntary mediation or to assist the investigator in understanding all the facts of your complaint.
You may receive assistance in lodging your complaint, however, we do not allow professional bodies to claim on your behalf if they are receiving a fee for doing so. We do, however, prefer to deal directly with people to avoid misunderstandings.
No. We in fact discourage the use of lawyers and other bodies who charge for their services. Most of the investigators are qualified lawyers. We act on a strictly impartial basis so there is no need for a lawyer. Should you, however, wish to use one, you are free to do so on the understanding that you will be unlikely to recover any fees from the bank.
Our services are available to individuals as well as small businesses whose annual turnover is less than R10 million. A small business may be a company, close corporation, a partnership or a trust.
Neither. The Ombudsman impartially evaluates the complaint and makes an assessment, recommendation or determination to the bank based on the merits of the complaint. The amount contained in the assessment, recommendation or determination is payable to the complainant and is not a fine.
The Scheme's budget is approved by the board of directors and the funds are provided by the member banks. The complainant does not have to pay any fee or charge, even if we make a finding in favour of the bank.
The Ombudsman operates independently of the banks and is not influenced by them. A Board that is headed by a former Judge and made up mostly of non-banking representatives appoints the Ombudsman. The staff members at the Scheme follow a very strict code of ethics to ensure that neither the banks nor the complainants influence them in any way. The Ombudsman takes strong exception to any person who tries to influence any decision made by the Scheme.
Should the bank not accept a recommendation that has been accepted by the complainant, and the complaint fulfils the requirements as set out above for a determination, the Ombudsman may issue a determination on the complaint. The bank has the right to apply for a review to a panel of retired judges selected by the Board against an adverse determination, should certain conditions be met. The bank is bound by the outcome of a review.
It would be impossible for him to do so. The Ombudsman employs a professional help desk and adjudication departments to handle all the investigative work. The determinations and recommendation reports that are delivered by the Ombudsman are, however, approved by the Ombudsman, assisted by a determination and recommendation committee.