Namfisa overwhelmed by consumer complaints

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WINDHOEK – The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) continues to pursue its mission to protect consumers and has made significant progress in consumer awareness relating to the types of complaints lodged with the authority.

However, Namfisa has experienced a significant increase in the number of complaints received as well as in the usage of various channels to lodge these complaints.

According to the Namfisa 2018 annual report, there was an increase in the total complaints received from 796 in 2016 to 990 complaints during 2017.

However, it was able to resolve a significant portion of complaints (97.5 percent), which is an indication of the importance of consumer protection to the institution.

The report says the remaining 25 unresolved complaints are still being pursued and will be resolved in the next financial year. An amount of N$59.97 million was paid out by  non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) on the 965 complaints received in 2017, compared to N$15.38 million the previous year.

The report further indicates the complaints received by industry varied from microlending and credit agreement, to long-term insurance, short-term insurance, pension funds, collective investment schemes, capital markets, medical aid funds, friendly societies and others between 2013 and 2017.

The complaints received by different industries totalled 990 in 2017, from 368 in 2013, 550 in 2014, 712 in 2015 and 796 recorded in 2016.

The report shows that the most complaints lodged emanated from the microlending and credit agreement industries with 345 complaints in 2017 compared to 211 in 2016.

This was followed by 276 complaints in the long-term insurance industry compared to 252 complaints in 2016, and 209 in the pension funds industry compared to 188 in 2016.

The complaints were diverse, including non-cancelation of contracts and non-payment of pension and withdrawal benefits, non-payment of pension contributions and repudiation of funeral benefits, disability benefit claims and insurance claims. 
Others included queries, overcharged interest and non-payment of refunds, poor information on loans granted, services not delivered, services not acceptable, repudiation of hospital benefit claims, claim disputes, investments or savings value, illegal deductions and extension of loan repayment periods.

According to the report, across all industries the key reasons for repetition of some offences were due to changed behaviour caused by lack of understanding of a particular financial benefit or product based on the prevailing global and domestic economic conditions.

Others include information asymmetry between consumers and financial service providers in the industry, and lack of service providers’ in-depth understanding of complaints leading to wrong diagnoses and then inappropriate corrective measures.

The total amount refunded to complainants represented a significant increase of 290 percent over the previous year. The highest amount of N$39.76 million was recovered from long-term insurance institutions, followed by N$17.46 million recovered from pension funds. The report also says that certain complaints did not fall within the ambit of the authority’s jurisdiction, as per the government framework and thus were refereed to other institutions.