FSA told to improve “inadequate” call records

In a letter to a complainant from the Complaints Commissioner published by the FSA yesterday, the Commissioner criticises the FSA for its “wholly inadequate” notes, and says it is unacceptable that call records could not be found.

The letter reveals that a customer filed a complaint against the FSA after a money transfer went wrong last August.

The customer wanted to change £20,000 into dollars then transfer it electronically to their US bank.

The customer chose a money transfer firm, referred to in the letter as Firm A, and then phoned the FSA to establish if the firm was reputable.

Based on the information the FSA provided the customer went ahead with the transaction, but before the transfer was completed the firm went into administration and the customer lost the £20,000.

The commissioner did not uphold the complaint as he judged the information given by the FSA, that the firm was registered with the regulator, was correct. The FSA cannot provide information about whether a firm is solvent or how it conducts its business.

But he did call for the FSA to review its procedures for retrieving calls and to improve record keeping.

The FSA no longer held the call recording, and only held a short note saying the firm was authorised. The firm was in fact ’registered’ with the FSA rather than authorised.

In the letter, Complaints Commissioner Anthony Holland said: “In this case, a call was clearly made to the FSA’s consumer contact centre and the operative recorded notes of the call recorded on its central system. It is unclear why when the complaints team asked for details of the call, on numerous occasions, it was not possible to retrieve these notes. This is clearly an unacceptable situation.”

Holland said the notes that were eventually found did not accurately record what was discussed in a five minute conversation.

He added: “The notes of the call taken by the consumer contact centre were wholly inadequate. This is unacceptable and the FSA should take steps to improve its record keeping.”

Holland also called for the FSA’s contact centre to set out clearly to customers how their money is protected and the situations where their money is at risk.

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