- About this Annual Review
- Year at a glance
- Acknowledgement of country
- Board Chair message
- Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman message
- Organisational overview
- AFCA Independent Review
- Who complained to AFCA?
- Overview of complaints
- Open cases
- Closed cases
- Banking and finance complaints
- Buy now pay later
- Scam complaints
- Financial difficulty complaints
- Small business complaints
- General insurance complaints
- Significant events
- Life insurance complaints
- Superannuation complaints
- Investments and advice complaints
- Complaints lodged by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Complaints lodged by consumer advocates and financial counsellors
- Complaints lodged by paid representatives
- Complaints outside AFCA’s Rules
- AFCA’s Systemic Issues function
- AFCA’s Code compliance and monitoring functiong
- Engagement, awareness and accessibility
- Corporate information
- AFCA General Purpose Financial Report
AFCA welcomes feedback from consumers, complainants, representatives of complainants and AFCA members. Feedback is provided via our online feedback form, email, phone or social media.
We take all feedback seriously, positive and negative, and acknowledge its vital role in informing our ongoing efforts and programs to improve and enhance our service.
In 2022–23, we received 287 compliments about our service through our formal complaints and feedback channel. Further positive feedback came via our complainant surveys and other channels.
Among a wide spectrum of positive feedback throughout the year, we received compliments for our professionalism and helpfulness, for determinations and resolutions that we provided, for the informative and guided approach of our process, and for the commitment and dedication of our staff.
We received 1,038 complaints about our service in 2022–23, a 10% increase on the previous financial year. This increase largely reflected the rise in the overall volume of financial firm complaints that we received and handled during 2022–23, rather than any change in the overall quality of our attention to individual cases.
We resolved 1,014 complaints about our service in 2022–23. This was a 3% increase on the previous year and also reflected the higher number of complaints received.
Of the complaints we investigated and finalised, 2,001 (85%) were not upheld or substantiated, and 352 were substantiated.
Service issue complaints cover a range of issues. Typically, they relate to the time taken to deal with complaints, 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 2022–23, the three most common issues raised in service complaints related to delays (317), alleged bias in our process (309) and failure to consider relevant information in a determination (200).
Of the 352 service issues that were upheld during 2022–23, 159 related to delays, 45 related to failure to reply to calls or correspondence, and 27 related to a failure to keep parties informed of progress.
Twenty-one service complaints about determinations were upheld, compared with 23 last year.
No complaints alleging bias in determinations were upheld in 2022–23, consistent with the previous year.
Outcomes and timeframes
The most common outcomes for service complaints upheld this year were apologies. Non-financial loss compensation was also provided in relation to a small number of upheld service issues.
We resolved 62% of service complaints within our designated timeframes, a slight decrease from the previous year (64%).
On average, we resolved service complaints within 24 days, a slight improvement on last year’s figure of 26 days.
Areas of focus and further improvements
Our service complaints team continued to work closely with AFCA’s quality and customer experience teams, decision makers and leaders throughout the year. They shared insights and issues that arose from complaints and other feedback. We greatly value the insights and opportunities for service improvements that we gain from feedback.
We have also worked to further increase awareness of our service complaints channels, both within AFCA, on our website and in our complaints correspondence. Our internal reporting has been enhanced to ensure trends and insights are captured and shared across AFCA. We also developed new resources to assist AFCA’s Case Management teams and leaders in responding more effectively to service complaints.
Throughout the year, we continued to engage and meet regularly with AFCA’s Independent Assessor to discuss and advance key issues that the Independent Assessor identified in service complaints investigated by her office, and to enhance consistency in our service complaint handling.
Case study – Improving the accessibility of our service
A complainant raised concerns about a bank’s promised 55-day interest-free period on a credit card, saying the full interest-free period was not applied to all purchases. AFCA investigated the complaint and found it lacked substance (in accordance with paragraph C.2.2(d) of AFCA’s Rules). AFCA found the bank’s terms and conditions did not promise to provide a 55-day interest-free period for every transaction, and that payment requirements needed to be met.
The complainant subsequently lodged a complaint about AFCA’s service, saying they disagreed with AFCA’s assessment and that AFCA had ignored the complainant’s disability. The complainant had previously advised AFCA that opening attachments with emails caused them pain due to a disability. AFCA had twice provided attachments in emails and not copied the content into the body of the emails.
Findings and outcome
Our service complaint investigation found that AFCA’s level of service should have been better during the Rules Review stage of the case, and that we should have taken better notice of the information provided by the complainant about their disability.
We wrote to the complainant explaining AFCA’s process in dealing with complaints that we assess as being outside of AFCA’s Rules, along with an acknowledgement and apology for twice overlooking the need to provide information in the body of emails and not as attachments. A small amount of non-financial loss compensation for the distress and inconvenience caused by this service failing was provided to the complainant.
Case study – Addressing all issues in a complaint
A complaint lodged with AFCA related to the value of a motor vehicle insurance claim and the accessories on the complainant’s vehicle. In its decision, AFCA found the insurer had valued the vehicle correctly and that a goodwill offer by the insurer for an additional amount was appropriate. The complainant challenged AFCA’s decision, saying some accessories on the vehicle should have been considered separately from the vehicle’s market value.
The complainant also asserted that AFCA’s preliminary view found that the accessories should have been classified as having separate value, but this was subsequently overturned by the Adjudicator in AFCA’s final decision. The complainant stated that AFCA’s earlier letters had not addressed all the issues she was concerned about.
Findings and outcome
The complaint investigation identified some errors in AFCA’s service – in particular, where initial correspondence to the complainant, and AFCA’s preliminary view, did not address all the complainant’s concerns. These errors were rectified by the Adjudicator in AFCA’s final decision. However, in our service complaint response, we apologised to the complainant for the poor service and offered a small amount of non-financial loss compensation for any stress or inconvenience caused.
The complainant subsequently lodged a complaint with the Independent Assessor, whose investigation found that AFCA had appropriately addressed the complainant’s concerns. No recommendations were made by the Independent Assessor.