Both the Irish Examiner and the Irish Independent (three times) have blindly (and misguidedly in my opinion) given coverage recently to a new service called Refund.ie.
Crazily, when the Irish Examiner gave the website publicity, they hadn’t even properly published the website – it was full of dummy text with zero information available at the time.
Refund.ie is a private company, set up to make a profit. However, it is claiming that it will pursue financial institutions in situations where consumers feel they have been ripped off.
According to their website:
Refund.ie is a 100% Irish owned company established to fill a vacuum. Refund will help and encourage individual and corporate entities to pursue legitimate complaints in the area of financial services. Our team of experts will review each case with the aim of achieving a refund and/or compensation. In addition to our financial advisers we have a panel of Solicitors who will enforce our findings through the courts where necessary.
As well as pointing out that Refund.ie is not regulated by the Financial Regulator, it also highlights:
However, Refund.ie takes a commission of 22.5pc of any settlement it agrees with a finanical institution, whereas the ombudsman offers the same service free.
The new company also wants a upfront fee of €242, although this will be refunded if there is a successful claim.
Why on earth would you give your money to an organisation like this? From the Irish Independent article again:
Managing director of Refund.ie John Prout said people were still free to go to the ombudsman if they were not satisfied with the service they received from a claims management company like his.
Or, even more of a ridiculous suggestion:
They could also come to Refund.ie if a claim was rejected by the Ombudsman.
I find it ridiculous that a company think that they can get away with inviting consumers to pay them money to follow up on a claim that has already failed when reviewed by the statutory body responsible for such complaints, the Financial Services Ombudsman.
In my opinion, a company such as this shouldn’t even be given such cheap, easy and unquestioning press coverage. As far as I’m concerned, it’s preying on the fears and insecurities of consumers who may have a certain apprehension about going up against their bank in a complaint situation.
But, much as I have issues with parts of how the Financial Services Ombudsman works, that is what they’re there for – to help consumers – and, shock horror, all for free.
From the Ombudsmans office website:
The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory body set up under the terms of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004 (Section 16 and schedules 6 and 7).
The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory officer who deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all financial service providers. It is a free service to the complainant.
So, if you have a complaint against a financial institution – go first through their own complaints handling process. (Click here for top tips on how best to approach going through a compaints process with any organisation, including financial institutions).
And if you don’t get anywhere with your complaint by going direct, then go to the Financial Services Ombudsman.
And stay away from companies like Refund.ie.