How to Make a Credit Card Complaint

By Justin Schamotta

It’s generally assumed that life for credit card holders is unfair and that’s all there is to it. However, you can make a credit card complaint and, in fact, many people do. For example, complaints relating to credit cards are one of top three things occupying the minds of those at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), according to its annual report.

New cases involving cards numbered 18,396 and produced 11% of the FOS’s workload. The financial services authority found that complaints over payment protection insurance (PPI) account for nearly a third of all cases and it seems that consumers still have plenty more to make a fuss about when it comes to their plastic.

When you have a credit card complaint, however, the financial services authority shouldn’t be your first port of call.

The FOS is only for complaints that can’t be resolved by the credit card provider. When you have a complaint under section 75, for example, it often can’t be resolved by the issuer.

For example, any of these cases are brought by consumers who have used their credit card to buy membership of “holiday clubs”. These memberships usually involve handing over a sum amounting to four figures. When the supposed special deals on flights and accommodation sometimes don’t materialize, consumers complain that the business has breached its contract.

However, many card providers argues that Section 75 does not apply in this situation. Other common complaints reported by the FOS include those relating to promotional rates and special 0% balance transfer credit cards.

A significant number of cases also stem from people complaining about the “default charges” so beloved of card companies when a customer misses or makes a late payment, or exceeds their credit limit. The beauty of the FOS service is that complaining to the FOS costs nothing and its decisions are binding on the financial institutions involved.

Half the cases brought before the Ombudsman are found in favour of the claimants – which is either encouraging or discouraging depending on your relative levels of optimism.

Something to bear in mind is that those who choose the alternate path of taking their claims through the courts will have to represent themselves, way wait months for hearings, might have to fork out court fees and will certainly get stressed. Even if they win, many have problems getting the guilty institution to pay out.

Taking your complaint to the FOS is surprisingly easy.

Consumers should have first made a complaint to the financial institution involved. They either need to have got an unsatisfactory reply from that firm or not to have received a final reply to their complaint within eight weeks.

The FOS’s procedure is so easy-to-use that individuals can bring the complaint themselves without the need to seek help from claims management companies. Complaints management companies commonly take a fee and some of them provide a lackluster service.

In all, making a credit card complaint is easier than you might think but it’s always worth checking your terms and conditions when you compare cards.

Justin Schamotta is a staff writer for a website called credit card comparison online. This site includes reviews of UK cards such as the Capital one Classic credit card.

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