Over 80,000 complaints have been made to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) during FY 2019/20, with most complaints relating to credit, insurance claims, and superannuation.
AFCA said the 80,546 complaints was a 13.7% increase in monthly complaints compared to the previous financial year and that the authority secured $258.6 million in compensation and refunds to consumers.
It said 78% of cases were resolved with the majority being settled in 60 days or less, and 73% were settled by agreement or in favour of the complainant, with banks being the most complained about financial institution.
Chief executive and chief ombudsman, David Locke, said one-in-10 complaints related to financial difficulty where a consumer was unable to make repayments on loans due to unforeseen circumstances or over-commitment.
“Australian consumers have faced a number of significant challenges this year,” he said.
“The pandemic has had a particular impact on Australian households, with 20% of COVID-19 related complaints being about financial hardship.”
However, Locke noted that AFCA saw less complaints relating to the pandemic (4,773) than anticipated due to the proactive response by financial firms. Most of these complaints had been about general insurance claims (1,813) with more than 1,500 of these being travel insurance complaints.
“We commend financial institutions for their quick response to the pandemic. As always, we encourage banks and insurers to maintain open and transparent communication with their customers about the support available to them if they’re experiencing financial difficulty,” he said.
Since AFCA’s inception in November 2018, it had received 127,694 complaints with credit being the most complained about issue (43%), followed by general insurance (23%), deposit taking and superannuation (both 9%).
The majority of complaints had been about banks (35%), followed by general insurers (19%), and credit providers (13%).