Justice at Last: Bank’s Disbelief Costs Fraud Victim €1,000

"Bank Ordered to Pay €1,000 in Compensation for Poor Customer Service During Fraud Claim" - Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Rules in Favor of Complainant.

Irish Bank Ordered to Pay €1,000 in Compensation for Poor Customer Service during Fraud Claim

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman has ordered an Irish bank to pay €1,000 in compensation to a customer for poor customer service during a fraud claim. The decision was handed down by Deputy Financial Services Ombudsman MaryRose McGovern on 30 January 2018.

The complainant had brought a claim regarding unauthorised transactions on their current account in late 2015 and 2016. The Ombudsman substantially upheld the claim and ordered the bank to refund the complainant more than €7,000 lost from the unauthorised transactions. Additionally, the bank was ordered to pay an additional €1,000 for a failure to provide an appropriate level of customer service.

During Christmas time in 2015, the complainant was on holidays abroad and used his debit card to purchase a tablet for €145 in a local store. However, the complainant believed his chip and PIN card was “cloned” by the merchant, as three subsequent transactions were made using the card to a total of €7,084.

The complainant stated that these transactions were unauthorised, but the current account provider declined to refund the €7,084 in January 2016, claiming that the card could not have been cloned and that the complainant must have authorised the transactions himself.

The Ombudsman found in favour of the complainant, stating that it is not impossible to tamper with or misuse a chip and PIN card, and that there was no evidence that the unauthorised transactions were a result of the complainant’s intentional or fraudulent actions, or gross negligence.

The Ombudsman ruled that the complainant was entitled to a full refund of €7,084 (less the €75 which he was liable to pay himself under the account terms and conditions).

The complainant also expressed dissatisfaction with the provider’s handling of the fraud claim, stating that he had never encountered such unhelpful, narky individuals in his life. He added that the provider failed to protect him, made him feel like a liar from the outset, and had done nothing to help him get his money back.

The complainant noted that he was told to go to his local branch to meet a manager to deal with the claim. He believed this to be the bank where the account was held, in the Republic of Ireland, which was a 90-mile round trip from his home in Northern Ireland.

The complainant said he left work early to visit the branch, but when he arrived there was no manager available, and the appointment had actually been booked in a branch in Northern Ireland just three miles from his home.

The Ombudsman ruled that the provider’s dealings with the complainant on the phone were “less than helpful” and “strained at times”. Follow-up letters did not fully engage with the complainant’s arguments or address his questions, and greater care could have been taken in guiding the complainant about attendance at the appropriate branch.

In light of the bank’s failure to provide an “appropriate” level of customer service, together with a failure to immediately refund the complainant in 2016, the Ombudsman ordered the bank to pay an extra €1,000 compensatory payment to the complainant.

This decision highlights the importance of banks providing a high level of customer service to their clients, particularly during times of stress and difficulty. It also serves as a reminder to banks that they must take all reasonable steps to protect their clients from fraud, and to treat them with respect and professionalism when dealing with their concerns.

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