An ACL holder must have an Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) policy as part of their general conduct obligations, under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009. Your policy should outline how you manage and resolve complaints, including how you communicate to your customers if you are unable to come to a satisfactory outcome and the rights to take the complaint further to AFCA.
Effective 5 October 2021, ASIC have implemented changes to the regulatory guidance (RG165). This includes reducing the timeframe under which complaints must be handled and providing specific information in the required written response. ASIC expects the level of detail in an IDR response will reflect the complexity of the complaint and outline the extent of any investigation that was completed by the broker.
But what is complaint?
A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction made to or about an organization, related to its products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.
We would not consider the following to be a complaint:
(a) employment-related complaint raised by a staff member; and
(b) comments made about your business where a response is not expected, such as:
(i) feedback provided in surveys; or
(ii) reports intended solely to bring a matter to your attention—for example, your social media page keeps crashing or a link on the website is not working.
What are the changes we need to know about?
A broader definition of complaints to include social media
The definition of a complaint has been expanded to include any notice of dissatisfaction. This means if a customer makes a complaint on your social media page(s), then it must be managed through your IDR process.
Social media complaints include channels or accounts that are owned or controlled by the ACL. You are required to respond to the complainant if they are identifiable and contactable.
For Connective credit reps - you will need to manage your own social media accounts to ensure that any complaints are managed in line with these requirements.
Timeframes for responding to complaints
Once a complaint has been received, you must acknowledge receipt within 24 hours and the acknowledgement must be verbal or in writing.
For Connective credit reps – You will need to acknowledge receipt of any complaints you receive and notify Connective.
Template for acknowledgement email < add link>
The timeframe to provide an outcome of the complaint has reduced. You now have 30 days to mediate and respond in writing to the complainant. If the complaint is closed within 5 business days, then there is no further action required from you.
Specific information required in the written response.
To finalise you’re your complaint within your IDR process you must provide a written response. The written response to the complainant providing the outcome must include enough detail for the complainant to understand the basis of the decision and to be fully informed when deciding whether to escalate the matter to AFCA.
The written response will need to include the following:
- Final outcome of the complaint, including details of any actions taken to resolve the complaint;
- Reasons for the outcome, if the complaint was rejected in part or in full, including details of findings and the basis of the decision; and
- The complainant’s right to take the matter to AFCA and the contact details for AFCA.
A written IDR response must always be provided if the complaint is about;
- Hardship; or
- The complainant requests a written response.
Update your internal processes for the identification, escalation, and management of systemic issues.
There is an obligation for companies to have adequate resourcing in place to ensure that the IDR process operates fairly, effectively, and efficiently within the prescribed timeframes.
ACL holders must train staff to escalate possible systemic issues they identify from individual complaints, promptly escalate possible systemic issues for investigation and action; and document the outcome of investigations, including actions taken, in a timely manner.
ACL holders will need to establish clear lines of accountability and reporting (if not already in place), develop processes and systems, and upskill staff to deal with complaints in a fair and effective way.
Preparing your business?
Make sure you understand the new timelines and complaint response requirements. Update your internal policies and processes for the identification, escalation, and management of systemic issues.