More on the CBA complaints boom

Via the ABC:

The recently formed Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) opened its doors to receive financial complaints during the tail end of the banking royal commission, and there has been a rush of Australians venting their spleens ever since.

Those complaints have come from far and wide but a large number have been centralised in western Sydney, and overall it appears the scheme is a success.

“We’ve seen 40 per cent more complaints coming through than the predecessor schemes were receiving,” AFCA chief ombudsman David Locke said.

AFCA has pulled together all of its data to reveal the most complained about financial institutions, what customers complain about the most, and where those complaints are coming from.

The most complained about bank in the period between November 2018 and June this year was the Commonwealth Bank, about which more than 3,890 complaints were made. ANZ came in second with 2,746 complaints.

People complained about credit cards (14.2 per cent) the most, followed by personal loans (11.9 per cent), and then mortgages.

On the whole, it has become clear the complaints are indeed genuine.

“Seventy-four per cent are actually being resolved by agreement of in favour of complainants,” Mr Locke told PM

While the majority of complaints are resolved, there are still too many Australians who are unable to get out of the financial bind they have found themselves in and the ombudsman warned there was an alarming number of Australians slipping into poverty due to financial hardship.

“What we’re seeing in the last 12 months is the number of financial difficulty cases has gone from 3,000 under the predecessor organisation to over 7,000,” Mr Locke said.

“So that to me indicates that there’s much more that needs to be done, and it also indicates there are a lot of people out there who are struggling.”

And, he said, in some cases banks did not offer any help when help could be provided.

“We see issues where they’re not acting in accordance with their code of conduct,” he added.

“We also see situations where they are following the practice, but actually there may be exceptional circumstances that need to be properly considered, and there may be routes that have not been pursued in order to try and resolve these matters.”

This is when a phone call to a financial counsellor may come in handy.

“I guess the banking organisations, or any creditors, have a certain level of trust in a financial counsellor because we don’t gain anything by advocating on behalf of somebody else,” Anglicare financial counsellor Gabrielle Locke said.

Outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne lead complaints

Ms Locke works in Liverpool, NSW. The suburb generated the greatest number of financial complaints in the country with 301, but the neighbouring Victorian suburbs of Werribee and Hopper’s Crossing had 547 combined.

Geographically speaking, NSW had more complaints than any other state with 7,554. Victoria was second with 7,109.

The top five suburbs where complaints are filed

  1. Liverpool, NSW 301 complaints
  2. Werribee, Vic 300 complaints
  3. Sydney, NSW 252 complaints
  4. Hopper’s Crossing, Vic 247 complaints
  5. Craigieburn, Vic 228 complaints

Ms Locke said some Australians lacked the financial literacy to get themselves out of financial trouble, while others simply took on too much debt.

But, she said, in Liverpool many callers were desperate for help after spending too much money on their children, and the bank had not given them any leeway.

“They want to be able to provide the things that their children want,” Ms Locke said.

“So if a child asks for something then the tendency for a parent is that come what may they’ll get whatever that might be.

“And then when you get into the teenage years it’s a mobile phone because everyone one else has got one.

“It’s hard for a parent to refuse a child, so that’s where some problems come in as well.”

The ombudsman also warned that buy now, pay later schemes continued to be a financial trap for many households.

“We do see people getting into a lot of difficulty there,” Mr Locke said.

Judging by that geogrpahy, it looks like people complain when their property price falls.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

  1. You’re pretty povvo if a mobile phone cost pushes you over the edge and you have to run to the ombudsman. Povvo is one thing, but Whitney entitles povvo is another. Not acceptable.

    That’s why it’s good that the population replacement program is gathering some momentum – we’ll import rich people to replace the povvos, and then some foreign povvos who know their lot and know not to complain to serve the rich imports.

    The complaining povvos will die out within ~30 years. Sooner if the wreck job on Medicare is a good one.

  2. So it read like lots of these people have fcuked up their finances due to stupidity and greed, and then demanded relief from their obligations, which they are obtaining.

    That must be great. Borrow sh1tloads of money to lead a profligate lifestyle, then don’t pay it back because you’re “doing it tough”.

    I’ve been financially responsible all my life, and I may have made a mistake.

    • Me too. But I’m wondering if it’s not too late to change approach right now, seeing the size of the loans I’m being offered!

  3. Can someone refresh my memory… in all these recent examples of predatory behaviour, if not outright fraud, has anyone gone to jail yet?

  4. This is a common mistake. The benefit is the dignity it brings. Although it feels foolish not to take the risk these days, as there is always someone to bail you out.

  5. Wish we could get complaints normalised by population of each suburb. This leaderboard is useless, so is that most come from the biggest two cities.