The Big Four feature in a large part of the complaints to AFCA because of their size. CBA, the largest of the major banks, claims to have 15.9 million customers.
An ABC spokesperson said the bank saw “an 11% drop in the total number of complaints over the past fiscal year, as we were able to resolve almost two-thirds of the total without referral to AFCA “.
“Our proportion of resolved complaints was also higher than our main peers,” the spokesperson said.
“Having said that, we know how important it is to resolve complaints quickly and satisfactorily and therefore welcome AFCA’s role as an independent third party in this process.”
Citigroup, which received the sixth highest number of complaints from all financial services providers, received more credit card complaints than any other company, which Choice CEO Alan Kirkland called “alarming”.
“It has double the number of complaints from NAB, which should be a concern for NAB as it seeks to acquire the consumer business from Citi. The high rates on Citigroup’s credit cards, which are among the most expensive in the market, are probably a major factor behind the complaints, ”he said. The Australian Financial Review.
Data shows that complaints about financial products increased at the start of the pandemic, with May, June and July 2020 recording the highest three months of complaints on record.
Central Coast, the nation’s complaints capital
Residents of postcode 2260 on the central coast of NSW, which includes the suburbs of Terrigal and Erina Heights, have filed more complaints with the AFCA than residents of any other postcode.
People living in Parramatta and Liverpool in western Sydney, as well as Wyndham and Point Cook in the far southwest of Melbourne, have also filed a large number of complaints.
Mr Kirkland said it was typical to see higher volumes of complaints from low-income people, especially regarding credit products.
“It is exacerbated when people experience additional financial stress, as many were during COVID-19. These complaints often relate to access to austerity measures or issues related to how the credit was approved in the first place, ”he added.
The release of the data comes as the government seeks to legislate a compensation scheme for victims of questionable financial advice, which financial advisers and consumer advocates have criticized as being too narrow.
Mr Kirkland said it was concerning to see 117 complaints against funeral insurance provider Youpla, which would not be included in the government’s proposed last resort compensation scheme.
“We know that AFCA has identified at least 25 complaints against Youpla since the Royal Banking Commission and awarded consumer compensation in each of them. If this trend continues, there are serious concerns about the viability of Youpla, which is why it must be included in the compensation scheme proposed by the government.
Youpla came under close scrutiny during the Hayne Royal Commission for attacking Indigenous communities with expensive and cheap funeral insurance products.
AFCA chief mediator David Locke said the agency continued to see a high number of cases of indigenous Australians believing they had been misled into purchasing funeral insurance.
More than half of the 260 complaints about funeral plans in the past 15 months were from people who identified themselves as Indigenous.