Complaints

The aim of the Complaints module is to test your understanding of Complaints and Age Partnership's processes.

What is a Complaint?

FCA Definition

According to the FCA a complaint is:

"An expression of dissatisfaction received whether oral or written, justified or not, from or on behalf of an eligible complainant, about the firm's provision of or failure to provide a financial service."

Question

  • Customers have to state they wish to make a complaint.
  • If a customer states that they are unhappy with our service, this should be regarded as a complaint.

Does a customer have to state they want to make a complaint or would indicating they are unhappy or dissatisfied with our service be sufficient for this to be regarded as a potential complaint?

TICK ALL THAT APPLY.

Identifying Complaints

Complaints will fall into three categories:

  • Financial Loss

  • Material Distress

  • Material inconvenience

Financial Loss

This is where the client believes that they have lost money as a result of an error, omission or other action taken by Age Partnership. The loss could be a small amount or thousands of pounds.

Material Distress & Inconvenience

Customer’s may make reference to the emotional or practical impact a situation has had. This “non-financial” impact could be:

  • distress – including embarrassment, anxiety, disappointment, loss of expectation, upset and stress; or
  • inconvenience – including the time someone’s spent and/or effort they’ve had to go to as a result of an alleged error or mistake.

These are subjective issues and it should be noted that a customer’s perception of an error and the distress/inconvenience caused may be very different to our own. An issue which may appear minor to us may be regarded as very important by the customer.

It is important to consider the impact a situation has had on the customer when deciding whether material distress or inconvenience has been caused.

For example, a customer who chases information previously requested for the first time, may not appear to have been materially inconvenienced. However, we need to consider the impact that the issue has had on the customer. If the provision of information is “time critical”, the failure to supply it could mean that a customer may have lost an opportunity. In these circumstances, the consequences may lead us to conclude that the inconvenience caused is material.

General complaint standards

In accordance with the FCA’s rules, Age Partnership operates an appropriate and effective internal complaint handling procedure for dealing with complaints received concerning the firm's services, regardless of their origin, nature of communication or subject matter.

The general standards that apply to all complaints are:

  • The firm must deal with a complaint promptly and endeavour to resolve and respond to the complaint as quickly as possible;

  • The firm must carry out an appropriate investigation;

  • The firm must keep the complainant informed of the progress it is making;

  • The firm’s response must address the subject matter of the complaint and give a clear account of the decision reached; and

  • The firm must handle complaints fairly and pay appropriate redress where it is due.

     

These standards have been embedded into Age Partnership’s procedures.

Recording Complaints

Upon receipt of a complaint in Risk & Compliance they will record this on Age Partnership’s central register. The information recorded is:

  • Name of the Complainant

  • The date of the complaint

  • Details and the nature of the complaint

If a complaint relates to a third party Age Partnership will:

  • Refer the complaint in writing to appropriate party within 5 business days.

  • Write to the customer informing them of the referral and providing the other firm’s contact details.

Where Age Partnership and another firm are jointly responsible, Age Partnership will:

  • Refer the complaint as described above outlining the part of the complaint we believe the third party is responsible for.

  • We will deal with in accordance with our complaints procedure.

If a third party refers a complaint to us we will deal with it as though it came from the client directly. The date of the complaint will be regarded as the date it is received by us.

Dealing with a complaint

If a complaint cannot be resolved by close of business on the next business day the firm must send a written acknowledgement to the complainant within 5 working days of receipt ( although this is no longer an FCA requirement, it is still deemed good practice to follow this standard). The acknowledgement letter must contain the following information:

  • The name or job title of the person handling the complaint;

  • The nature of the complaint and Age Partnership’s understanding of the complaint.

  • Confirmation that Age Partnership will investigate the complaint.

     

    In addition, a copy of the Age Partnership’s complaint handling procedure must also be sent with the acknowledgement letter. 

Final or other response within 8 weeks

Age Partnership must, by the end of eight weeks at the very latest after its receipt of the complaint, and if not already done so, send the complainant:

 A final response letter together with confirmation that they the client(s) is now able to refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service within 6 months if they are unhappy with our final response.

OR if not yet in a position to offer a final response to the client:

  •  A holding letter which explains why we are not in a position to make a final response yet and that it indicates when we expect to be able to provide one.
  • Informs the complainant that they are now permitted to refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service within 6 months, even though they have not yet received Age Partnership’s final response.

And in all cases:

Enclose a copy of the Financial Ombudsman Service standard explanatory leaflet.

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an independent organisation set up to help customers resolve complaints against a public body or commercial organisation. FOS is free to all individuals and small businesses.

FOS is available to complainants who have exhausted a firm’s internal complaints procedure and are not satisfied with the resolution.

FOS has a range of actions available if it finds in the favour of the customer.

  • It can make a financial award to compensate for loss, pain or suffering, distress or inconvenience. The maximum that can be awarded is £150,000 plus costs and interest. When making a financial award, the purpose is to put the customer back in the position they were in before the event.

  • It can direct a firm to take steps in relation to complainant and the complaint.

If your client is still not happy with the Ombudsman outcome they can refer their case to the courts.

Record Keeping

The FCA requires Age Partnership to maintain records for all complaints received. These records must be maintained for a minimum of 3 years from the date the complaint is received.

In addition the FCA requires Age Partnership to report details of complaints twice each year. We are required to report:

  • ·Total number of complaints

  • ·Total number of complaints and within what timescale

  • ·Total number of complaints upheld.

  • ·Total number of complaints outstanding at the beginning of the reporting period and at the end of the reporting period.

  • ·The total redress paid in respect of complaints during the period and whether this was for Distress, goodwill, interest and putting a customer back into their original position.

Our reporting periods are:

  • ·1 January to 30 June

  • ·1 July – 31 December

Untitled section

Who is responsible for dealing with Complaints?

The firm’s senior management is ultimately responsible for ensuring that complaints are handled promptly, fairly and in accordance with this procedure. Furthermore, in order to fulfil the firm’s regulatory obligations relating to systems and controls, senior management will ensure that the complaint handling process is audited and that management information on complaints is obtained and reviewed at regular intervals.

 

All members of staff have important responsibilities relating to complaint handling, however, only certain staff within Age Partnership will be permitted to investigate complaints (that cannot be resolved by the close of business the next day) and respond to customers. This is currently undertaken by the Compliance Department.

 

Risk & Compliance are responsible for the day-to-day management of complaints and compliance within the FCA’s complaint handling standards. 

Receiving complaints

A complaint could potentially be received by any member of staff through any form of communication. When an individual receives a complaint the complaint must be referred to the Compliance Department.

If a complaint is received during a telephone call, the recipient must make an accurate record of the complaint using the Customer Complaint Report, (see appendix 1) and explain to the complainant that they will pass details of the complaint to an Age Partnership person who will contact them as soon as possible.

It is possible that intermediaries and other third parties may communicate complaints on behalf of customers. When this happens these complaints must be dealt with in the same way as a complaint received directly from the client.

When a complaint is communicated via a third party, Age Partnership will respond to the customer directly, unless they have given their explicit instruction to correspond with the third party instead.

When a complaint concerns the products or services of another company, the complaint should be passed to the Compliance Department who will contact the relevant third party with details of the complaint. The third party who is the subject of the complaint will handle this in accordance with their internal complaint handling procedures.

Question

  • Employee handbook
  • In Compliance & Risk Department
  • Intranet

Where is the customer complaint form located?