Complaining to Your Credit Card Company
If you are unhappy with the service provided by your credit card company you will need to contact them to make sure things are put right, or to make a complaint. The time it takes to do this will depend on the scale of the issue you have. You might be able to get things sorted out quickly by calling your company and explaining things to call centre staff or you may wish to contact an impartial third party organization, you will investigate your complaint on your behalf.
Making a Phone Call
If your issue is relatively small, you should call your company and try to sort things out with call centre staff. You may wish to ask to talk with a manager or someone from a complaints department, rather than general staff who may not be trained to deal with queries such as yours. If your company decides they can fix your problem straight away (such as withdrawing a charge levied in error) make sure you ask for a letter to be sent confirming their mistake and that the necessary action has been taken to put things back in order. Take details such as the name of the people you spoke to, the time of your call and the log number for the call itself. If the issue you have is not reconciled, you will now have extra information to validate your complaint. By asking for confirmation, staff are more likely to be more attentive when dealing with you and it is more than likely your problem will be dealt with to a higher standard!
Writing a Letter
Serious issues should be dealt with in writing. Writing a letter adds a certain amount of gravitas to your complaint. Written communication between you and your credit card company can be recorded by both parties (photocopied) which means courts or financial regulatory organizations (such as the FSA) will have detailed proof to help them better decide rulings in your favour (fingers crossed). Letters are also more likely to be passed to higher level staff in relevant departments of than the general call centre staff you can reach via telephone and so your problems will probably be dealt with to a higher standard. Postal delays and slow moving company in-house post systems do mean that written correspondence can take weeks, or months to arrive at any kind of resolution.
Points to remember when writing a letter;
- Make sure you provide evidence to back up your complaint in written communication
- Include photocopies of previous correspondence with your letter
- Always clearly date your letter, use a formal written style and end letters in traditional business manner. If things turn nasty, you may need to use your letters in court. Use of sloppy spelling, grammar and letter structure will give the court a poor impression!
- Include your account number and any reference numbers in all correspondence. Try to do everything you can to make your letter easy to understand. It is likely that several different people may deal with your complaint. If people misunderstand the point you are trying to make communication can prove fruitless, or take an excessively long time
- You can send letters by email, but complaints are taken more seriously if sent in hard copy. If you do use email always keep a copy of your sent messages and keep your writing style formal, as you would in a written letter
- Tell the company exactly what action you would like them to take (such as a refund, compensation, apology, etc). It is easier for your credit card company to fulfill your expectations if they know what they are
- Give your company a deadline by which time you expect to receive a response. This should be somewhere between 14 to 28 days
Contacting an Impartial Third Party
If your letters do not yield a response or you feel that your credit card company has not been fair in dealing with your complaint, you must contact the Financial Services Authority (www.FAS.gov.uk) who are the UK regulators of financial service institutions and the Financial Ombudsman (www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk) which is a UK body created to settle disputes between financial organizations and their customers.
To file a complaint with either organization you will need to contact them by email or telephone and explain your situation. You will need to fill in and submit various forms detailing your experience and complaints and you will need to provide full evidence to back up your opinions – so make sure you never throw any communication with your credit card provider in the bin!