The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has banned paid representative MCR Partners from lodging complaints on behalf of consumers and small businesses.
This is the first time AFCA has exercised its discretion under AFCA Rule 2.2 to exclude a third party paid representative.
MCR Partners (its directors, employees or agent) is excluded from lodging complaints for 15 months, from Friday 26 June 2020 to 30 September 2021.
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman David Locke said "It is important that consumers know they do not need to pay someone to lodge a complaint with AFCA. We are an independent ombudsman service, and we are free to consumers”.
“AFCA is very clear about its expectations of agents who lodge complaints on behalf of consumers. We expect that agents act in a manner compatible with our Rules and purpose.”
While AFCA will no longer deal with MCR on any new or existing complaints, it will continue to process complaints currently in the system, either dealing directly with consumers or a replacement representative. AFCA has contacted those who currently have a complaint lodged.
“Dispute resolution can be a stressful experience for the people involved. We will continue to work with the complainants involved to minimise any impact caused by this decision,” Mr Locke said.
AFCA will review its position in September 2021, to decide whether to again accept complaints lodged by MCR, subject to specific conditions. Any such review will also consider MCR’s observance of the period of exclusion.
If a consumer feels they need further support to lodge a complaint with AFCA, we encourage them to reach out to a financial counsellor in their area. Financial counsellors can be located on the National Debt Helpline website.
About AFCA Rules
Under AFCA Rule 2.2g, AFCA may in its discretion exclude a complaint, if the complainant is represented or assisted by an agent who may receive remuneration for this service and AFCA considers that:
- the agent is engaging in inappropriate conduct which is not in the best interest of the complainant, or
- the complaint is not accompanied by information required by AFCA.
AFCA rules state the discretion will only be used in cases where there are compelling reasons for deciding that AFCA should not consider the complaint.
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- The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a non-government ombudsman service providing free, fair and independent help with financial disputes.
- AFCA is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses who have a dispute with their financial firm, over things such as banking, credit, insurance, advice, investments or superannuation.
- Where an agreement cannot be reached between parties, AFCA can issue decisions that are binding on financial firms.