Annual Review 2021–22

Feedback about our service

AFCA takes all feedback about our service seriously. While we are proud of the work we have achieved so far, we also acknowledge there are always opportunities to continue improving and enhancing our service.

AFCA welcomes feedback from consumers, complainants, their representatives and AFCA members via our online feedback form, email, phone or on social media. We use the information we receive from feedback and complaints about our service as part of our quality program and continuous improvement work.

In 2021–22, we received 172 compliments about our service through our formal complaints and feedback channel. We received many other compliments and positive feedback through other channels including our complainant surveys.

Positive feedback included compliments about our overall service, helpfulness, responding promptly and with flexibility to issues experienced by complaint parties, and for outcomes of determinations and resolutions we provided.

We received 942 complaints about our service in 2021–22. This was a 4% decrease on the previous year.

We resolved 980 service complaints in 2021–22, which was a 7% decrease on the previous year and reflected the lower number of complaints received.

Of the service complaints we investigated and finalised, 86% (1,881) of the service issues raised were not upheld or substantiated, with 14% of issues substantiated. This was consistent with the previous year.

During 2021–22, 208 service complaints were escalated and lodged with the Independent Assessor, representing 22% of the total service complaints received.

Service issues

Issues raised in complaints about our service can relate to the time taken to deal with a complaint, our communication and how quickly we respond, our process, procedural fairness and what information we have considered when determining a complaint.

Service issues can also relate to a range of membership services, including fees charged.

In 2021–22, the three most common issues raised in service complaints lodged were alleged bias in our process (14%), delay (12%) and failure to take into account relevant information in a determination we issued (8%). This was consistent with the previous year.

Of the 318 service issues that were upheld in 2021–22, most (67%) related to delays, how we kept parties informed of the complaint progress, or incorrect/insufficient information being provided.

Twenty-three issues about determinations we issued were upheld in 2021–22, representing 1% of all service complaint issues we dealt with. This was a decrease from the previous year.

No complaints alleging bias in a determination were upheld in 2021–22, consistent with the previous year.

Outcomes and timeframes

The most common outcomes for service complaints upheld this year were apologies. In a small number of matters errors were corrected, or fees invoiced to an AFCA member were reduced or waived. Non-financial loss compensation was also offered and provided in relation to a small number of upheld service issues, mainly relating to delays.

We resolved 64% of service complaints within our timeframes, which was an improvement from the previous year (48%).

On average, we resolved a service complaint within 26 days, which was also a significant improvement from the previous year (57 days).

Areas of focus and further improvements

Our service complaints team continued to work closely with our quality and customer experience teams, AFCA decision makers and AFCA leaders, to share insights and issues that arose from complaints and feedback about our service. We also liaised and worked in conjunction with the Independent Assessor to discuss and progress key issues the Independent Assessor identified in service complaints investigated by her office.

Other key activities for our service complaints team this year have been contributing to the design requirements of our new case management system, and reviewing and enhancing our internal reporting and analytics.

Case study

AFCA dealt with a complaint against a financial firm concerning several disputed credit card transactions. AFCA issued a determination in favour of the financial firm, finding the complainant had not established the transactions were unauthorised or not otherwise authorised by the complainant.

The complainant lodged a complaint about AFCA’s service in which he complained AFCA had taken almost 12 months to finalise his financial firm complaint and issue the determination. The complainant raised concerns he had received poor service from AFCA generally during the complaint, including a lack of progress updates.

Outcome and findings

We investigated the complainant’s service concerns and found the complaint had taken longer than our usual timeframes to progress. We found there had also been a service failing when the complaint had been re-allocated to a new AFCA case worker and the complainant was not advised of this or contacted by the new case worker for a period of almost six weeks.

We provided a written apology to the complainant regarding AFCA’s service delays and communication gaps and offered a small amount of non-financial loss compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused by the service failings.

Case study

AFCA dealt with a complaint about an insurer where the complainant said the insurer had not properly assessed their claim for storm damage to their home. AFCA’s determination found the insurer was not liable to repair the roof of the property that had allowed water to ingress into the home. This was because the policy excluded wear and tear caused by progressive deterioration over time.

The complainant lodged a service complaint about AFCA as they were concerned that AFCA had not properly considered a report they had provided. The complainant believed the report proved the insurer had caused damage to their roof while completing make-safe works.

Outcome and findings

Our service complaint investigation found the issue relating to the damaged part of the roof had not been fully outlined and addressed in AFCA’s determination. AFCA took steps to correct this oversight in the determination and the insurer subsequently offered to replace the damaged section of the roof.

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