Contact us

0800 347 257

“Complaints and the snow-ball effect”

Grant had been using a travel specific credit card for several years. In 2016 the underlying provider of the card changed, and customers were required to effectively renew their cards with the new provider. Grant tried to do this online, but for some reason he was unable to move through each step of the process. Grant emailed the provider but it kept replying that he should continue to attempt renewing online, which still would not work.

After a few months, Grant called the provider to again attempt renewing his card. For security, Grant was asked his mother’s maiden name which he provided. However, the maiden name recorded in the provider’s system was Grant’s surname, not his mother’s maiden name. This resulted in another failed renewal.

The provider then said Grant had to provide his mother’s birth certificate to be able to progress the renewal. Grant considered this unacceptable and asked to speak to a manager. Grant was asked by the manager to confirm his telephone number which Grant also considered unacceptable as the provider would have had that. Eventually the manager was able to renew Grant’s card.

Grant complained to the provider about the poor service and said he wanted to receive recordings of all his telephone calls with the provider. The provider acknowledged the poor service and said it would pay Grant $50 compensation, but then took six weeks to pay.

Grant complained to FSCL.


Grant’s view

Grant said it was ‘not about money’, he was just extremely disappointed with the service he had received from the provider. Grant said he wanted the provider to explain what had gone wrong in his case, and ensure no one else had to experience what he had.


The provider’s view

The provider said the name entered in its system for Grant’s mother’s maiden name was information received from the previous service provider, and the error was outside its control.

The provider also considered the complaint to be outside FSCL’s jurisdiction to investigate. We said the complaint was within jurisdiction, because Grant was expressing dissatisfaction with the service he received (being the definition of a ‘complaint’).

Although the provider was adamant it did not need to take any further action to resolve the complaint, its complaints manager agreed with our suggestion to contact Grant and explain in more detail what had gone wrong in his case.

This resolved the complaint for Grant and we discontinued our investigation.


Key insight for participants

FSCL will investigate complaints solely about service issues, and can award amounts up to $2,000 for significant stress and inconvenience. Grant’s was a relatively minor complaint but the effects of the provider’s poor service meant it snow-balled. The provider had all the tools to de-escalate and resolve the complaint and eventually did this upon our suggestion.