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Consideration of customer complaints by financial institutions

Financial services are not always performed as they should be, and procedures for considering customer complaints have not always been effective. Consequently, in May 2015 the Polish Financial Supervision Authority adopted a resolution on consideration of customer complaints, and in August the Sejm adopted the Act on Consideration of Complaints by Financial Market Entities and on the Financial Ombudsman. The act has just entered into force.

The act applies to complaints about the quality of services made with banks, payment institutions, brokerages, investment funds, credit unions, and lending institutions. These financial institutions are required to decide on a complaint within 30 days from receipt, or 60 days in complicated cases. If the complaint is not resolved by this deadline, it is deemed to have been decided in the customer’s favour.

If the complaint is not upheld, the financial institution is required to notify the customer of the right to appeal, resort to mediation, file a claim in court, or apply to the Financial Ombudsman for consideration of the case.

The Financial Ombudsman is a new governmental institution established by the act and tasked with protecting the interests of customers, including review of individual cases of customers whose complaints were not upheld by a financial institution. The costs of operating the Financial Ombudsman’s office will be borne by the financial institutions themselves.

Under the previous system, dissatisfied customers filed several thousand complaints every year with the Financial Supervision Authority. The new act may result in more effective handling of complaints by financial institutions, and customers may gain strong support from the new office of the Financial Ombudsman.

Danuta Pajewska, Capital Markets Practice and Financial Institutions Practice, Wardyński & Partners