What can I do if my bank doesn't respond to my complaint?

Banks receive a lot of complaints and sometimes things can fall through the cracks. If you’ve made a complaint with your bank and they haven’t responded, don’t despair. You have some options to make sure your complaint gets heard. You could make a complaint using Ajust, or escalate your complaint to the ombudsman.

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What’s the issue?

My bank hasn’t responded to my complaint

Despite banks having well-oiled customer service systems in place, sometimes things don’t go to plan. The good news is it’s easy to understand what you can expect as a consumer because the banks must adhere to clear guidelines outlined by regulatory bodies.

If you’ve already made a complaint to your bank and they haven’t responded, one option you have is to escalate your complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). AFCA (the banking ombudsman) has the authority to independently review your complaint to ensure you get a fair outcome. 

It’s important to note that AFCA won’t be able to help if you haven’t already tried to resolve your issue directly with your bank. You need to give your bank the opportunity to resolve your complaint prior to escalating to AFCA.

If you haven’t yet made your complaint to the bank, one option to consider is using Ajust. Ajust makes it easy to create your complaint and ensures it gets sent to the right people so that your complaint gets heard. Take a look at Ajust’s guide to banking complaints for more information about how you can use Ajust to resolve your issue.

What do you need to know?

Bank obligations and response timelines

Each bank is required to have a complaint handling process, referred to as the internal dispute resolution process (IDR). The IDR process might look slightly different from bank to bank however the requirements (including complaint response times) are the same. These timeframes are regulated under Regulation Guide 271.

When you lodge a complaint, your bank is required to acknowledge receipt within 1 business day. They aren’t required to propose a solution at this stage so this is often a system generated email that simply states that your complaint was received. If you lodged your complaint via phone, the bank would have verbally acknowledged receipt during the call.

There are several categories used by the banks to make sure your complaint gets handled correctly, in the right timeframe. Here are two common categories:

  1. The majority of complaints are considered Standard Complaints which the banks have 30 days to respond to. We understand that seems like a long time but we often see that banks respond much quicker than that.
  2. If your complaint is credit-related (e.g. a credit card default notice or hardship notice), your bank is required to respond within 21 days.
Just a bit more

Banks are required to have a formal complaint handling process, known as the Internal Dispute Resolution process (or IDR for short). When your bank responds to your complaint, there’s what they’re required to include:

  • Confirmation that the bank’s IDR process has finished 
  • The final outcome of your complaint
  • Information about your right to lodge your complaint with AFCA if you are unhappy with the bank’s decision
  • AFCA’s contact details
  • Information to help you understand any time limits that might impact your ability to lodge your complaint
What can you do?

I haven’t received a response but less than 30 days have passed

If less than 30 days have passed since you lodged your complaint, there are some options you could consider.

If you’re feeling patient, you can wait until 30 days have passed. It’s highly likely that you will receive your bank’s IDR response within that time frame. We understand that this might be frustrating, but the bank is allowed to take this time to properly respond to your complaint. Sometimes banks might need to conduct internal investigations before providing a response to you.

If you’d like to try to accelerate the response time, one option can try is to contact your bank. If your bank has customer advocates, this could be a great time to ask for their support. Customer advocates are generally independent within the bank and can advocate on your behalf for a fair (and sometimes faster) outcome.

If you do choose to contact your bank, be sure to include any and all information that you think is relevant to your complaint. While there is no guarantee that this will speed things up, any additional information you provide will be considered.

It’s been more than 30 days and I haven’t heard anything

If it’s been more than 30 days since you made a complaint, one option you could consider is escalating your complaint to AFCA. AFCA is the banking ombudsman and has the authority to independently review your complaint and instruct your bank to act. AFCA will liaise with you and your bank to understand what’s gone wrong to help you get a fair outcome to your complaint.

Please remember that AFCA can’t look into your complaint unless you’ve first tried to resolve it directly with your bank. If you haven’t already tried to resolve your complaint with the bank, AFCA will direct you and your bank to speak to each other first. If you are then unable to reach a resolution that you are satisfied with, AFCA will be able to take a look.

At the moment, Ajust isn’t able to escalate complaints to AFCA, so you will have to do it yourself. If you’re ready to escalate your complaint to AFCA, visit their page to understand the process.


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