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Watchdog slams financial body for call centre records

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4th Jul 2011
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The Complaints Commissioner has criticised the financial services watchdog in its annual report after poor record-keeping at the regulator’s call centres was found to have impeded a number of complaint investigations.

The report, written by Commissioner and former Personal Investment Authority ombudsman Sir Anthony Holland, revealed that the Financial Services Authority was unable to retrieve either phone or written records relating to two complaints filed by consumers in the year to March 2011.

The document said: "While the Commissioner accepts that it is not possible to retain actual recordings of all the calls made to FSA call centres, where the FSA retains electronic written records, these should be obtainable if required as part of a complaint investigation. In two complaints, it is clear that there was difficulty in retrieving records."

Some 128 of the total 167 complaints made last year came from members of the public, while a further 10 came from Independent Financial Advisers, two from solicitors and two from third parties. Thirty complaints related to general regulation, eight to fees and seven to boiler room scams. The total number of gripes filed had risen from 139 in 2009/10, but all were brought to a conclusion last year compared with only 126 the year before.

The Commissioner has also reprimanded the FSA for delivering documents late over the last year. According to the Financial Times’ FT Adviser, Holland upheld a complaint in April after sensitive enforcement documents were delivered between 10-10.30pm and then left with a neighbour.

A month before, the watchdog was also forced to pay compensation to a woman who complained that a 5,000-page enforcement document was delivered to her husband after 9pm.

The Commissioner asked the FSA to apologise and introduce a delivery deadline of 8pm, but it maintained that 9pm was acceptable in order to prevent delays, although it would henceforth contact recipients in advance to inform them of expected delivery times.

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