Funds frozen in Fiji

When Tom was holidaying in Fiji in October 2019, his travel card started declining payments. Tom knew he had sufficient funds on the card, so called the card provider to ask what was wrong.

It transpired a vendor had refunded a transaction to the card, which the card provider’s fraud system had picked up as suspicious, because the original purchase was carried out on another card and so there was no reconciling payment. As a result, Tom’s account was automatically frozen.

To resolve the issue, Tom had to give the card provider details of the original transaction, details of the account/card originally used, and a statement from the vendor confirming the refund was legitimate. In the meantime, fortunately Tom had other credit cards he could use on his holiday.  

In December 2020, Tom realised the account still had not been unfrozen. He contacted the card provider, who apologised profusely for their error and offered Tom $500 as a gesture of goodwill. Tom didn’t accept the offer and complained to FSCL.

 

Dispute

Tom was indifferent about the $500 the card provider had offered him, as he felt they hadn’t adequately addressed the concerns he’d raised in his complaint.

Tom wanted to understand why the card provider was able to freeze all the funds in the account, which were cleared funds, and not just the money refunded to the card by the vendor.

Tom also wanted a better explanation as to why the card provider took 15 months to unfreeze the account.

 

Review

We found the card provider had given Tom detailed explanations about why their fraud system picked up the transaction as suspicious. The card provider said it was regrettable that the account was frozen when it shouldn’t have been, but, in order to protect their customers, they needed to have robust, precautionary fraud measures in place. The card provider said they couldn’t provide any further details about their fraud system, because it was constantly being reviewed and updated to keep ahead of ever-changing fraud patterns and behaviours.

As for the delay in unfreezing the account, the card provider acknowledged multiple times that they had fallen below their standards of service and had reviewed the incident to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

 

Resolution

We told Tom, that while we understood his frustration, we thought the explanation and information the card provider had given were reasonable. It was understandable that they couldn’t provide more specific details of their fraud system and rules, because if that information fell into the wrong hands, their system could be circumvented by fraudsters.

We recommended Tom accept the $500 offer, because although he was indifferent about it, we thought it reasonably addressed the stress and inconvenience he suffered.

Tom accepted the offer, and we closed his complaint.

 

Insights

Our scheme rules require our participants to provide any information we request that relates to a complaint. However, sometimes there are limits on the information a participant is required to disclose, such as where it’s commercially sensitive.

In this case, the card provider had also already given the complainant as much information as they could during their internal complaints process. 

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