The Financial Services Ombudsman has gone to the dogs, when it comes to service and turnaround times

MrEarl

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1,813
Hi,

My view is that the service has gone to the dogs, in terms of turnaround times. I know of two individual complaints submitted and acknowledged, that have seen absolutely no further engagement from the Ombudsman's office in about a year. That's just wrong !

If they need more staff to cope with the volume, then why haven't they hired them ?
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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39,145
Hi Mr Earl

That is disappointing

I was very surprised to see a case recently where the mediation phase did not begin until 6 months after the complaint was submitted.

You are saying that this is now a year.

That is very poor.

The problem is that they are inundated with complaints - especially trackers. If they take on and train staff to deal with them, then they will be overstaffed when the crisis passes.

Brendan
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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I lodged a complaint in February. They insisted on the mediation phase (even though I didn't want it) which took til July.

It was forwarded to the investigations team in August and still no response yet, even a draft one.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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39,145
They insisted on the mediation phase (even though I didn't want it)
Either side can withdraw from mediation at any time.

Did they not make this clear?

Look at the first letter you got from the Ombudsman? Did it not explain the mediation process?

While I recommend mediation in general, if someone is submitting a tracker cohort group issue, they should say in their letter of complaint that they are declining mediation. AIB, for example, engages in the mediation process "to explain" rather than to settle. Which is a farce.

Brendan
 

TrundleAlong

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I can a few minor complaints with the Ulster Bank. They constantly referred me to the Financial Ombudsman than deal with the simple issues. I now know why.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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Either side can withdraw from mediation at any time.

Did they not make this clear?

Look at the first letter you got from the Ombudsman? Did it not explain the mediation process?
I lodeged my complaint in February. Nothing tracker related.

Ombudsman indeed said that mediation was something I could decline but insisted on a phone call to try to convince me to go through with it. I explained on the phone and in writing that this was pointless as I was not seeking redress or compensation but a clarification on the interpretation of a statutory obligation. There were weeks of delays to acknowledge receipt of complaint and then communication about it moving through different internal departments.

Between the back and forth the first communication I got from their investigations team was 4 June. The response of the provider was quick, by early August. But now about three months and still no word on adjudication.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
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39,145
They insisted on the mediation phase (even though I didn't want it) which took til July.
Between the back and forth the first communication I got from their investigations team was 4 June.
That seems contradictory to me?

The Investigations team would not have contacted you on 4 June, if it had been still in mediation.

So I suspect that there was no mediation as you said that you did not want it.

You submitted in February.
They phoned you in X and you declined mediation.
They sent the file to Investigation who contacted you on 4 June.

So that is not nearly as bad as it sounded originally.

Brendan
 

MrEarl

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...That is very poor.

The problem is that they are inundated with complaints - especially trackers. If they take on and train staff to deal with them, then they will be overstaffed when the crisis passes.

Brendan
Hi Mr. Burgess,

To say it's "very poor", is being kind here imho. I would go so far as to say it's disgraceful, and lets the consumer down terribly.

Your point about the volume of complaints is acknowledged, but lets face it, this additional volume of complaints hasn't just popped up out of no where and caught them by surprise in the last month or two.

You make the point about the Office potentially becoming over staffed once the "crises" passes, well people could easily be hired on 12-24 month contracts to help deal with the higher volume of complaints, if long term staffing issues are the concern.

There are massive numbers of people who may be available part time, or willing to work on fixed term contracts, who have relevant experience in financial services (be they early retirees, those who took career breaks and may now only want to return to work part time / or for a specific period, those made redundant by the Banks etc.). Many of these people could be trained up reasonably quickly, I would have thought.
 
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MrEarl

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Mr Earl

Have you been involved in recruiting professional staff recently?

It is very difficult to source and retain good people.

Brendan

Hi Mr. Burgess,

As it happens, yes I have and that's part of the reason that I posted with confidence, a little earlier.

Perhaps we are thinking about different levels of professionals here ?

Please see the attached 2018 document that I was able to find online. It gives a profile, indicative salary scales etc. Please then consider working hours, a city center location convenient for many, the amount of former bank staff who might be looking for work (or to get something better than their current role) etc.

I fully appreciate your comment about it being difficult to source and retain good people, but I suspect the issue here isn't to do with sourcing good staff, so much as the Ombudsman's Office not having tried to source the additional staff needed.
 

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Brendan Burgess

Founder
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Sorry, you are dead right.

There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of people with the following qualifications immediately available:

Desirable Requirements:

In addition to the above essential requirements, the following criteria are also highly desirable for
the role of Adjudication Officer:
 Knowledge or experience of consumer protection or complaints handling in consumer services,
financial services and/or pensions;

 Knowledge or the ability to quickly develop and maintain a good knowledge of the financial
service and/or pension landscape including products and the relevant legislation, regulation and
codes that apply to the sector;
 Knowledge or experience of the regulatory framework for financial services including pensions in
Ireland and/or the EU;
 A good understanding of the law and the principles of natural and constitutional justice;
 In depth knowledge and understanding of legal, judicial and fair procedures;
 Familiarity with the key elements of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017.
In addition to the specific requirements set out above, candidates should have all the abilities required
of an Executive Officer. In particular, candidates must demonstrate, by reference to specific
achievements in their career to date, that they possess or have the capacity to acquire the following
qualities, skills and knowledge required for the role of Executive Officer as identified by the Public
Appointments Service Executive Officer level competency framework and set out in the table below.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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Messages
1,066
You submitted in February.
They phoned you in X and you declined mediation.
They sent the file to Investigation who contacted you on 4 June.

So that is not nearly as bad as it sounded originally.

Brendan
They insisted on attempting to get me into mediation even though I said in my initial complaint in February that I didn't want it.

I submitted a full file and the provider was very prompt in getting back to the FSPO when appraised of my complaint. It took about four weeks for them to respond, me to comment on their response, their rejoinder, etc.

We are both nine months in and only one month of this has involved any action by me or the provider. To me this is too long as the facts are not in dispute and the case rests on the whether the provider has certain legal obligations to me or not.


My feeling is that the FPSO has too many junior staff. I made another complaint last year and there was lots of wasteful administrative back and forth with staff who simply didn't get the substance of my claim. Once it went to adjudication someone with brainpower took over and I got a very well-considered decision that was accurate on all the facts.
 

DirectDevil

Frequent Poster
Messages
688
Apologies in advance if this is a really stupid question.

To whom is the FSOP actually answerable legally ?
Put another way, does anyone regulate the ombudsman ?
The latter question would probably identify the entity to which to complain if there is poor or inadequate service.
 

NoRegretsCoyote

Frequent Poster
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1,066
To whom is the FSOP actually answerable legally ?
Put another way, does anyone regulate the ombudsman ?
Like any public body, their actions are subject to judicial review. If you feel they have erred in law you can take them to the High Court.

For public accountability they are audited by the C&AG and can be summoned before Oireachtas committees.
 
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