Share Call Number Initiative for consumers

21 February 2011 SAIA

In support of the drive towards the consumers in South Africa, the Credit Ombud, the Ombudsman for Banking Services, the Long term Insurance Ombud, the Short term Insurance Ombud, the Financial Services Board (FSB), the FAIS Ombud and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) collaborated to develop a share call number for consumers, which went live on 1st January 2011. Consumers can call 0860 OMBUDS (0860 662 837) and they will be connected directly to any of the offices listed above or guided to whom they should contact if they are not sure which Ombud or regulatory office handles the relevant complaint in the financial industry.

"The South African Insurance Association supports the share call number initiative as part of various consumers’ initiatives, including the Consumer Protection Act that will commence on 31 March 2011 and the introduction of the Treating Customers Fairly concept by the Financial Services Board. The focus is placed on the consumer, especially on convenience for consumers’ complaints to be addressed effectively and timeously," says Suzette Strydom, SAIA’s Legal Manager.

The share call number is outsourced to a call centre company. An added advantage is that this call centre company is the same company that services the call centre of the Financial Services Board and the FAIS Ombud.

"The success of the share call number initiative will depend heavily on the training received by Call Centre Operators, especially when forwarding calls to the correct Ombud and the ability of the Call Centre to deal with the volumes of calls received," says Suzette Strydom, SAIA’s Legal Manager.

There is a definite need in the industry for accessibility for consumers, and the Ombudsman and the Regulatory bodies are gaining more and more consumer attention as consumers are realising that complaints can be lodged free of charge and disputes can be resolved. It is a common reality that consumers are often not aware of which office to contact when they want to lodge a complaint. As a result, consumers become frustrated and a lot of time is wasted.

"We look forward to the positive impact the share call number initiative will have on the financial industry, especially in achieving increased customer satisfaction, which will in turn result in the growth and sustainability of the financial industry," says Suzette Strydom, SAIA’s Legal Manager.

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