better banking

How can the Banking Ombudsman Scheme help you?

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme investigates and resolves complaints from customers about their banks. We are independent of customers, banks and government. Our service is free of charge and easy to use.


What type of advice can the Banking Ombudsman Scheme give you?

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme can provide information about:

  • existing banking industry practices and procedures
  • how to make a complaint about a bank
  • obligation of banks under current legislation and industry codes
  • how our office may be able to assist you in resolving a complaint and what limitations there are on our powers.


We are unable to provide

  • advice about specific products or services offered by a particular bank
  • financial, legal or budgeting advice or advice about the validity of your complaint as we cannot make a determination until we have investigated.


What is the process for making a complaint about a bank?

We must give a bank the opportunity to resolve a complaint using its internal complaints procedure before we can investigate.  You can complain directly to your bank in the first instance, or you can send your complaint to us and we can refer it to the complaints team for you.  


Making a complaint to the Banking Ombudsman Scheme

We need to have a complaint in writing to process it.  You can submit a complaint to our office via our online complaint form, or by sending us an email or letter.   If you have trouble writing your complaint we can help. Organisations such as Citizens’ Advice Bureaus, budget advice services and Community Law Centres may also be able to assist. Once we refer your complaint to the bank, we will send you an email or letter which details the next steps in the process. We will also send you a Waiver of Confidentiality form to complete and return to us.  The bank will then investigate your complaint and respond directly to you.


What to do if your bank makes an offer of settlement for your complaint

If your bank makes you an offer of settlement, you should consider it carefully but you do not have to accept it.  If you accept the bank’s offer, it will be in full and final settlement of your complaint and we will be unable to investigate.


What if the bank is unable to resolve your complaint?

If your complaint has not been resolved within three months, or if you are dissatisfied with the bank’s final response to your complaint, you can ask us to consider it.  You need to bring your complaint to our office within three months of the bank’s final response or we may not be able to investigate it.

If you want us to investigate you must send us a completed Waiver of Confidentiality form.  This allows your bank to release information about your complaint to our office.  It is useful if you also send us a copy of the bank’s final response to your complaint.

Our Customer Service Charter sets out both our responsibilities and yours when using our service.


Investigating and resolving your dispute

If you and your bank are unable to resolve your complaint it is referred to our office to consider.  It is assigned to an investigator, and he or she will be your point of contact with our office from then on. Our first step will be to determine if we have jurisdiction to consider your dispute. Our Terms of Reference set out the Banking Ombudsman Scheme’s duty, role and powers, including limits on our powers to investigate. If we are unable to investigate, we will write to you and explain why.

We find that sometimes the best way to resolve a dispute is informally through facilitation. The purpose of facilitation is to have both parties reach a mutually agreed outcome at an early stage without the need for a full investigation.

If facilitation is not successful or appropriate, we will conduct an investigation and present our findings and proposed resolution in writing in an initial assessment. If both parties accept this, the dispute will be resolved at this stage.

However, if either party disagrees, both have the right to submit further information before we make a final recommendation. This is the last step in our process with no right of appeal. You can decide whether to accept it as a full and final settlement. If you accept the recommendation, it is binding on the bank.

If you do not accept, your bank has no obligation to comply with it.  You also have the right to pursue your complaint through other avenues you feel are appropriate.


Contact details

Write to:  

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme


PO Box 25-327


Featherston Street

Wellington 6146


0800 805 950


 04 915 0400