The Consumers Council of Canada has joined three other consumer groups — members of the Canadian Consumer Initiative — in expressing concern about the TD Bank Group’s recent withdrawal from the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), with provides independent resolution of disputes between consumers and their banks.
In leaving OBSI, TD Bank Group followed in the footsteps of the Royal Bank of Canada.
Representation on Parliament Hill by the Council and other CCI-member consumer groups to the government and MPs led to a recent exchange on the subject during Question Period. CCI members raised this issue among others at a recent news conference in Ottawa.
The Council is concerned TD Bank Group’s and the Royal Bank of Canada’s withdrawal from OBSI’s consumer dispute resolution process threatens the health of the system of dispute resolution and redress that has distinguished Canada during the current period of global economic disorder. The Council is concerned the banks’ actions do not bode well for the national objective of providing an easy to identify and independent process for consumers unable to resolve a dispute with their bank.
Among Canada’s largest banks, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce still support OBSI, which has provided a relatively independent, cost-effective, fair, high-quality process for dispute resolution and redress consumers have been coming to trust. A recent independent review of the work of OBSI was largely positive.
The Council is concerned a divided arbitration process will confuse consumers, and a fractured system of dispute resolution threatens to undermine a process that has worked.
The Council believes there is reason to hope Canada’s Department of Finance will take this issue seriously. As recently as the G20 meeting in Paris in October, Canada signed on to principles on “Complaints Handling and Redress” that include: “Recourse to an independent redress process should be available to address complaints that are not efficiently resolved via the financial services providers and authorised agents internal dispute resolution mechanisms.”