Felix, a small business owner, asked a broker to arrange insurance cover. There was a glitch setting up the payment for the insurance and Felix was very concerned that he was not covered. When Felix contacted his broker for help, he did not get the response he expected.
The broker was off hand, said she had back to back meetings so would look into the problem later in the day and would get back to Felix. Felix explained that he too was very busy and needed to know what time the broker would call. When the broker was unable to give a definite time, the call deteriorated, and Felix felt bullied and dismissed as unimportant.
Felix contacted FSCL with a recording of the call. We referred the complaint to the broker’s internal complaints process. The broker’s manager called Felix promptly and apologised unreservedly for the broker’s actions. The manager offered to transfer Felix to another broker in another part of New Zealand.
Felix accepted the manager’s apology and proposal and the manager understood the complaint was resolved.
However, when Felix thought some more about the broker’s actions, he felt the broking company had not taken the allegations seriously enough and asked FSCL to investigate.
By this stage, Felix had transferred his business to another broking firm.
Felix was concerned that the broker might go on to bully other clients and perhaps even members of staff. Felix considered himself the victim in the situation, yet he was the one who was expected to move branches and be serviced by a broker out of his region. Felix asked why the broking firm was not doing more to punish the broker and wanted to know what they were doing to make sure this never happened again. Felix wanted the broker to meet with him and apologise in person.
The broking firm was unsure about what to do next. They had apologised for their broker’s actions, spoken to her about her inappropriate handling of the situation, but said they were not prepared to arrange a meeting between the broker and Felix.
We called Felix and explained that we could not require the broking firm to punish the broker or require the broker to meet him. To do so would be interfering in the employment relationship between the broker and the broking firm. It was enough for the company to apologise on behalf of their staff member.
We explained to Felix that it appeared to us that the broker’s manager had handled the complaint very well. He had responded promptly, apologised appropriately, and moving Felix to another branch had been done with Felix’s approval at the time.
We asked Felix how we would help resolve matters for him and Felix said he did not want money. Felix explained that he had drawn the matter to our attention, and it was for us to decide what to do next.
After further communication with Felix, during which we said it didn’t appear there was anything more we could do, he agreed that he did not wish to take the matter further through our process and we discontinued our investigation.
Insights for participants
Occasionally, no matter what you do to resolve a complaint the person concerned will not be happy. It can then be useful to refer your client to FSCL, as an independent third party. Sometimes we can help a person agree there is nothing more than can be done and persuade them to discontinue their complaint.