How many times have you asked to see the manager, only to be more frustrated when you leave the establishment?
Service across many industries leaves a lot to be desired, but as a consumer you have rights and recourse too.
The Ombudsman (for any industry) is an institution set up to look into consumer complaints.
Nearly every industry has its own Ombudsman.
Here is a list of various Ombuds you can turn to for assistance:
Ombudsman for Banking Services
This office resolves complaints to do with banking services and products.
The role of the banking ombudsman is to resolve banking complaints impartially, speedily and confidentially.
The service is free and only applies to bank related issues.
As a consumer, you must follow the complaints procedure (of the bank you are having a problem with) before you can approach the Ombudsman.
The process to follow:
- Contact the bank and submit your complaint to them
- Allow the bank time to solve the problem
- If the bank comes back with an answer which you aren’t happy with, you can then exercise your right to take up the matter with the banking ombudsman.
National Credit Regulator
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is the regulator for the National Credit Act (NCA), and in short, regulates the South African credit industry.
The NCR is tasked to ensure the enforcement of the National Credit Act (NCA).
The NCR is tasked with carrying out education, research, policy development, and registration of industry participants, as well as the investigation of complaints.
This office also deals with the registration of credit providers, credit bureaus and debt counsellors.
If you are experiencing problems with your debt counsellor, you can contact the NCR.
The Office of the Credit Ombud resolves complaints from consumers and businesses that are negatively impacted by credit information or when a consumer has a dispute with a credit provider.
If you have drawn a credit report from a credit bureau, and have found information on there to be incorrect, you should take it up with the credit bureau.
If you are unhappy with the outcome, or you don’t get a response within 20 working days, then you can approach the Credit Ombudsman.
Ombudsman for long-term insurance.
Established in 1985, this office mediates in matters of insurance contracts.
Policyholders who submit a complaint to the Ombudsman may still decide to follow the conventional civil justice process, although these two processes are not allowed to proceed simultaneously.
Key requirement to get assistance from this office is that insurance policies should have been marketed or effected in South Africa.
By mid 2019, the Ombudsman for long term insurance had recovered R185.8 million for complainants. The bulk of complaints related to funeral benefits.
Services by the long term insurance ombudsman are completely free.
Industry subscribers are bound by the Ombudsman’s rulings.
Ombudsman for short-term insurance
This independent office was established in 1989 and provides consumers with a free, efficient and fair dispute resolution mechanism.
Short term insurance disputes undertaken by this office include: Motor, house owners (buildings), householders (contents), cellphones, travel, disability, credit protection insurance, commercial insurance on a limited basis.
Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa
This independent institution resolves disputes where a deadlock has been reached between the motor and related industries and their customers.
While the service is free, should it prove necessary that a technical inspection has to be carried out, the consumer laying the complaint will have to pay for this inspection.
This office has been set up to enhance tax administration and provide independent redress channels for taxpayers who have exhausted the normal SARS complaints mechanism.
The Tax Ombudsman maintains a balance between SARS powers and duties and taxpayer rights and obligations on the other.
The Tax Ombudsman therefore communicates with SARS officials and has access to SARS’ system and taxpayer information in order to resolve complaints.
As South African consumers and citizens, it is important to know that we have rights, and that we can exercise these rights.