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EA+ in action

In May 2020 Kimiora asked her credit union to close her account. The account was not closed and a direct debit Kimiora had set up to a charity continued to be paid from her account, withdrawing the remaining $52 that was in her account and overdrawing the account by about $300.

Kimiora contacted us in January 2024 because she had received a letter from the credit union warning her that they intended taking debt recovery action for the overdrawn balance. Kimiora was surprised to hear from the credit union and said it was the credit union’s fault that her account was overdrawn because if they had closed her account, as she had asked, the direct debits would not have continued.

To resolve her complaint, Kimiora said she wanted the credit union to pay her $52 and agree not to take recovery action for the $300 overdrawn balance.

The credit union had no record of Kimiora asking them to close the account and were confused about Kimiora’s complaint, saying that she had continued to use the account after she said she had closed it. The credit union could not see a $52 credit balance in the account at any time.

The credit union offered to refund the interest that had been charged on the overdraft but said they could not close the account until Kimiora paid the overdrawn balance.

Dispute

Kimiora did not accept the credit union’s response, maintaining they had not closed her account as she had asked. Kimiora did not agree she should have to pay the overdrawn balance.

Review

We identified this complaint as being suitable for our EA+ service. Our EA+ service allows us to be involved shortly after the complaint has exhausted a participant’s internal complaints process where we think we might be able to help the parties resolve the complaint without a full investigation.

We agreed the account statements did not match with Kimiora’s understanding of what had happened and that she could have stopped the direct debit herself. However, sometimes dispute resolution is not about the rights and wrongs, but about what it will take to resolve the complaint. We asked the credit union if they would agree to write off the $300 owing on the account, but not refund the $52 credit balance Kimiora had referred to, to resolve Kimiora’s complaint. The credit union agreed to this.

Resolution

We spoke to Kimiora and asked if she would accept the credit union’s offer to write-off the $300 residual debt. We explained that it appeared to us that she had also contributed to the situation by not cancelling the direct debit. Kimiora agreed to forgo the $52 credit refund she believed was owed to her and accepted the credit union’s offer to write-off the overdrawn balance and close her account.

Insights for participants

Although the credit union could possibly have resolved this complaint without our help, we appreciated their willingness to work with us to resolve the complaint. They responded quickly to our requests for information and were available when we needed to talk to them. We were able to resolve this complaint in a matter of days without the need for a full investigation that would have cost the credit union more in time and money.