The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has banned paid representative MCR Partners from lodging complaints on behalf of consumers and small businesses, the first invocation of AFCA Rule 2.2.
Under Rule 2.2g, AFCA may use its discretion to exclude a complaint if the complainant was represented or assistant by an agent who may receive remuneration for this service and AFCA considered that:
- The agent was engaging in inappropriate conduct which was not in the best interest of the complainant; or
- The complaint was not accompanied by information required by AFCA.
MCR Partners’ directors, employees and agents were excluded from lodging complaints for 15 months, up to 30 September, 2021.
David Locke, AFCA chief executive and chief ombudsman, said it was important that consumers know they do not need to pay someone to lodge a complaint with AFCA and were an independent ombudsman service free to consumers.
“AFCA is very clear about its expectations of agents who lodge complaints on behalf of consumers," Locke said.
“We expect that agents act in a manner compatible with our rules and purpose.”
“Dispute resolution can be a stressful experience for the people involved. We will continue to work with the complainants involved to minimise any impact caused by this decision.”
While AFCA would no longer deal with MCR on any new or existing complaints, it would continue to process complaints currently in the system, either dealing directly with consumers or a replacement representative.
AFCA said it had contacted those who currently had a complaint lodged.