Single call centre for ombudsmen

Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

The banking ombudsman, the credit information ombudsman and the long-term insurance ombudsman have become more consumer- friendly by jointly launching a call centre.

Consumers can now call the share-call number "0860 Ombuds", or 0860 662837, for guidance on which office to contact or to be connected.

The new share-call number is an additional service and not a substitute for the various offices' existing telephone numbers.

Consumers who want to contact the ombudsmen directly can still phone the specific office's number.

l The banking ombudsman's share-call number is 0860-800-900 and his office number is 011-838-0035;

l The share-call number of the ombudsman for long-term insurance is 086-010-3236 and the office is 021-657-5000.

l The number of the credit information ombudsman's call centre is 0861-662-837.

The single number was established to make it easier for consumers to register a dispute.

It follows the implementation of a similar system in Australia.

The credit information ombudsman, Manie van Schalkwyk, stressed the importance of the financial ombudsmen focusing on accessibility to their offices because more consumers are becoming aware of the role of ombudsmen in dispute resolution in the financial services industry.

Ombudsmen, especially those servicing the financial services industry, say frustrations arise when consumers are told that they have called the wrong ombudsman - and that they will have to start the entire complaint process again with the correct ombudsman.

Van Schalkwyk said: "It was precisely with this reason in mind that the idea of one telephone number was born."

The three ombudsmen believe that the new initiative is the best scheme for consumers and have called for other ombudsmen to join their initiative.

Offices have been established for three other ombudsmen.

They are for the ombudsman for short-term insurance, for the pension funds adjudicator, and for the financial advisory and intermediary services ombudsman.