Frequently Asked Questions - Ombudsman FAQ
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.
- The total amount involved in the dispute exceeds R10 000.
- If a complainant seeks the determination, the complainant has agreed to be bound by it; subject to the right to a review.
- The Ombudsman is satisfied that the party seeking the determination has advanced valid grounds.
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.