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Financial complaints in 2008

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If you are not satisfied with a bank, an insurance company or another financial undertaking, you may submit a complaint by letter. Also send a copy of your complaint to the Financial Markets Information Line. This will allow the AFM to prevent more complaints from arising with respect to the financial undertaking.

If you are unable to reach agreement with the financial service provider or you consider the response of the service provider unsatisfactory, you can submit the problem to the Kifid within three months. The Financial Services Complaints Tribunal (Kifid) is the independent desk for settling disputes between consumers and financial service providers.

"Complaints handling by institution leaves room for improvement"
The recently published Kifid annual report shows that nearly 6,500 consumers presented their complaint for settlement to the Financial Services Ombudsman. Nearly six out of the ten complaints concerned insurances, in particular equity-linked insurances, which are often referred to in the media as "usury policies".
So consumers are able to find their way to the desk, but they often go there with their complaint too often and too soon, writes Kifid in the accompanying press release. The handling of complaints in financial services leaves much room for improvement, according to Kifid. This can be achieved mainly by professionalising the approach to the statutorily required internal complaints procedure.

Single premium
With respect to payment protection insurances, the Ombudsman writes that "many consumers are faced with higher debts than was originally intended." Loaning money for a single premium also costs money. The Ombudsman continues: "Consumers also often think that the aforementioned policies can be terminated by means of early redemption, but this is rarely the case when it comes to single premiums. This leads to a great deal of miscommunication." The provider has a responsibility in this connection, but so does the consumer. The Ombudsman argues for restraint; consumers "should not focus too much on the most favourable offer, because the lowest interest rate and the lowest monthly fixed costs often only apply for a short period or exclusively in combination with expensive additional insurance policies."

Interest on savings
The Ombudsman also has a tip for savers: "Savers also have to be alert at all times during the term of the savings agreement." This is written in response to a complaint from a consumer who saw the interest on his savings account drop from 4% to 1.3% within a year. The Ombudsman considers merely publishing an interest reduction in some national newspapers to be insufficient. "Additional information via the client's own page on the website of his bank or by means of an email message would seem to me to be a form of real service provision that can very easily be realised," according to the Ombudsman.

If mediation by the Ombudsman does not result in an advice that is acceptable by both parties, the matter may submitted to the Financial Services Disputes Committee. Approximately 5% of the cases is referred to the Disputes Committee. This is as much as 12% where it concerns complaints about securities.

The AFM is committed to promoting fair and transparent financial markets.

As an independent market conduct authority, we contribute to a sustainable financial system and prosperity in the Netherlands.

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