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Dispute resolution schemes

Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008, ss 11, 47, 48, 63(1)

All lenders must be registered as financial service providers and be members of an approved dispute resolution scheme. There are four schemes that a lender could belong to. They are:

All schemes are a free, independent and faster than courts. They can help with a range of problems, including:

  • the services, advice or products you’ve received from a lender or from another type of financial service provider, for example, a financial adviser
  • the conduct of any financial service provider
  • a financial service provider’s breach of a legal obligation, of an industry code of conduct or of their contract with you, for example, irresponsible lending
  • financial difficulty (including applications for hardship and withdrawals from KiwiSaver)
  • debt recovery (including repossession of consumer goods).

How do I complain?

Dispute resolution is available to any individual consumer and to any small organisation (one with fewer than 20 full-time equivalent employees).

You can first contact the dispute resolution scheme the lender belongs to for more information on their process. You can find out which scheme they belong to by:

  • asking the lender (or other provider)
  • asking any one of the dispute resolution schemes
  • checking on the Financial Service Provider Register at www.business.govt.nz/fsp.

For information and contact details for the four dispute resolution schemes in New Zealand (see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page).

How are complaints resolved?

Each dispute resolution scheme has its own process for handling complaints with different rules and timelines. These schemes will all follow an overall process. You can contact the lender’s dispute resolution scheme at any time to clarify their process and your next steps. You can get assistance and support at any point in this process from a support person, a whānau member, or your financial mentor (if you have one).

The dispute resolution process, step by step

Step 1. Check the dispute resolution scheme your lender belongs to

You can do this by asking the lender, asking any of the dispute resolution schemes or checking on the Financial Services Provider Register (at www.business.govt.nz/fsp). You can contact them and tell them about your dispute and ask about their process. They may refer you back to the lender’s complaints department to see if you can resolve the dispute.

Step 2. Contact the lender

Contact the lender’s complaints department and try to resolve the dispute. You can contact Moneytalks if you need a financial mentor to assist you. If the lender has not responded within 3 months or you can’t agree to a solution, lodge your complaint with the dispute resolution scheme (see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page).

Step 3. Lodge your complaint with the dispute resolution scheme

You can do this usually by filling out a complaint form. You must take your complaint to a dispute resolution scheme within a certain amount of time from the deadlock date. There are some types of complaints that dispute resolution schemes don’t cover. You can check with them or on their website to see if your complaint falls into a category they aren’t able to investigate.

Step 4. Giving the lender another opportunity to resolve the dispute

The dispute resolution scheme will contact your lender and give them an opportunity to resolve the dispute.

Step 5. Investigation

If the dispute is still not resolved, the dispute resolution scheme will investigate the complaint. They will contact you to gather more information. They will try to get you and the lender to come to an agreement that resolves the complaint through different methods, for example negotiation and mediation.

Step 6. Decision

If the dispute is still not resolved, the dispute resolution scheme may make a decision on what they believe should be the outcome. This decision will be given to you to agree to or not. This decision may be binding on the lender if you agree to it.

The dispute resolution schemes might decide to:

  • award compensation for direct loss
  • award compensation for stress and inconvenience
  • change the terms of a contract
  • reduce the amount owed
  • lower, or remove, the interest charged
  • help negotiate debt repayment plans.
Example: Ali goes through dispute resolution scheme process

Ali saw an ad that offered an attractive interest rate if they transferred their credit card balance to the bank. They went to the local bank branch and applied for a balance transfer. Ali thought the advertisement meant that they were getting a personal loan but what actually happened was their debt was moved from one card to another.

Ali went to the branch to clear up the misunderstanding, but the manager was unhelpful and took Ali’s credit card.

Ali complained to the disputes resolution scheme that the bank was registered with (in this case, the Bank Ombudsman, see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page). During the Banking Ombudsman’s investigation process, the bank offered Ali a settlement of providing a personal loan (what Ali thought they signed up to) and agreed to make a small extra payment to Ali to acknowledge unfair treatment.

Ali accepted the bank’s offer.

What can I do if my complaint doesn’t get resolved by the dispute resolution process?

If your complaint isn’t resolved by the dispute resolution scheme, you can take it to the Disputes Tribunal (see: “The Disputes Tribunal”) or the courts.

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Credit and debt

Where to go for more support

Legal information and support groups

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Consumer Protection

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics. Consumer Protection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

Website: www.consumerprotection.govt.nz
Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Consumer NZ

The Consumer NZ website provides a wide range of information on consumer issues and template letters you can use to write to traders to enforce your rights.

Website: www.consumer.org.nz
Email: info@consumer.org.nz
Phone: 0800 226 786 (0800 CONSUMER)

Commerce Commission

The Commerce Commission enforces the laws against misleading and deceptive conduct by traders (the Fair Trading Act) and the consumer credit legislation (the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act). The Commission provides information on these areas on its website.

Website: www.comcom.govt.nz
Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 943 600

To make a complaint online: comcom.govt.nz/make-a-complaint

To read consumer rights in different languages: comcom.govt.nz/consumers/read-about-your-consumer-rights-and-business-responsibilities-in-another-language

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

FinCap and Money Talks

FinCap is a non-government organisation providing free financial mentoring services.

Website: www.fincap.org.nz
Email: kiaora@fincap.org.nz
Phone: 04 471 1420

MoneyTalks is a financial capability helpline operated by FinCap. The Financial Mentors offer free, confidential advice by phone, text, email and live chat.

Email: help@moneytalks.co.nz
Phone: 0800 345 123
Text: 4029
Live chat: www.moneytalks.co.nz

Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS)

The ITS deals with bankruptcies, no-asset procedures, summary instalment orders and some company liquidations. Information about those processes is available on its website. The ITS is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Website: www.insolvency.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 INSOLVENCY (0508 467 658)

Dispute Resolution Schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers. Contact the scheme your service provider has registered with.

1. Financial Services Complaints

Website: fscl.org.nz
Phone: 0800 347 257

2. Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

Website: www.ifso.nz
Phone: 0800 888 202

3. Banking Ombudsman

Website: www.bankomb.org.nz
Phone: 0800 805 950

4. Financial Dispute Resolution Service

Website: www.fdrs.org.nz
Phone: 0508 337 337

Credit Reporting

Your credit record

There are three credit reporting companies that operate nationally in New Zealand. To check your record or correct any information, you’ll need to contact them all.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit record. You should make sure you choose the free option when you contact each company.

1. Centrix – www.centrix.co.nz – 0800 236 874
2. Illion – www.illion.co.nz – 0800 733 707
3. Equifax – www.equifax.co.nz – 0800 698 332

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)

Search the PPSR register to see if there is any security interest registered against a vehicle. This can be done for a small fee by registering to check online.

Website: www.ppsr.companiesoffice.govt.nz

Privacy Commissioner

The Privacy Commissioner has information on your rights in relation to credit reporting and how to complain if you feel your rights have been breached.

Website: www.privacy.org.nz
Email: enquiries@privacy.org.nz
Phone: 0800 803 909

To make a complaint online: go to the website above and select “Your rights tab” then “Complaining to the Privacy Commissioner”

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