Some financial service providers (FSPs) are wrongly attempting to recover dispute resolution costs from customers, the Financial Ombudsman Service has identified in the June quarter.
The issue is currently under investigation by FOS, which has identified it as a ‘new definite systemic’ issue. In one case, FOS reported that an FSP has appointed solicitors to manage legal proceedings against the applicant, the FSP had passed on to the applicant the legal costs it incurred for work conducted in responding to the dispute.
FOS was also concerned that the FSP had not ceased all enforcement activity and therefore had breached clause 13.1 of FOS’s Terms of Reference.
“We are concerned that such costs have also been passed on to other customers, causing them loss,” it said in the latest circular.
Other ‘possible systemic issues’ under investigation include improper collection activity, particularly while a dispute is open with FOS, the conduct of employees and authorised representatives, processing errors such as whether processes for releasing pre-authorisations were subject to unreasonable delay and/or caused a wider group of customers financial difficulty or loss, inappropriate charging of a fee, particularly relating to over-limit fees on accounts entered into after July 2012.
FOS said sometimes they investigate issues that are “ultimately determined to be not systemic” but encourage the FSP to improve or change their processes.
Giving an example, it stated that an FSP reviewed its current internal processes and procedures and has put in place new systems and conducted refresher training of IDR/EDR staff to ensure that it complies with EDR obligations and responds to FOS requests for information properly and within appropriate time frames.