How to complain to the Banking Ombudsman

What can I do if I have a complaint about a bank?

If you wish to complain about a bank, and you've already complained directly to the bank itself, you can complain to the Banking Ombudsman.

What is the Banking Ombudsman?

The Banking Ombudsman hears complaints about banking and other financial services within New Zealand. The standards and practices of all registered banks and members of the New Zealand Bankers' Association are determined by the Association's Code of Banking Practice. The Banking Ombudsman polices the guidelines contained in this Code.

The Banking Ombudsman has jurisdiction to hear complaints relating to sums up to $200,000.

How do I make a complaint to the Banking Ombudsman?

You can do this in one of the following ways:

  • by writing to PO Box 10-573, Wellington
  • by sending a fax to (04) 471 0548
  • by emailing www.bankombudsman.org.nz
  • by phoning, toll-free, on 0800 805 950

The Banking Ombudsman prefers that you put your complaint in writing and that you fill out a complaint form. You can download this from the banking ombudsman's website.

For more information about the Office of the Banking Ombudsman and how to make a complaint, visit its website at www.bankombudsman.org.nz.

The bank's internal complaints procedure must be used first

Banks are required by the Code of Banking Practice to offer a three-step complaints procedure. You may not take a complaint to the Banking Ombudsman unless the complaint has first been heard under the bank's internal procedure.

What information do I have to include in my complaint?

Once you have exhausted the bank's internal complaints procedure, you can contact the Banking Ombudsman by sending a written statement that includes what it is you believe the bank has done wrong, all the facts that are relevant to the complaint, and what you want the bank to do about it.

Does it cost anything to make a complaint?

No, the complaint service provided by the Banking Ombudsman is free.

How does the Banking Ombudsman make a decision about my complaint?

The Banking Ombudsman uses the Code of Banking Practice as a guide for good banking practice, and therefore will usually find in a complainant's favour if the Code has been breached.

What can the Banking Ombudsman do about my complaint?

The Banking Ombudsman has the following powers in dealing with a complaint:

  • The Ombudsman can try to settle the complaint by agreement between you and the bank.
  • If a negotiated settlement isn't possible, the Ombudsman can make a recommendation to you and to the bank as to how the complaint should be settled.
  • If you accept a recommendation but the bank does not, the Ombudsman can order the bank to pay you a sum of money (an "award"). An award cannot be for more than $200,000.

As well as making an award, the Banking Ombudsman may award you an amount for expenses involved in making the complaint.

To whom is the Banking Ombudsman responsible?

The Banking Ombudsman is not governed by any specific legislation, but is governed by Terms of Reference and is responsible to the Banking Ombudsman Commission. The Commission's role is to ensure that the Ombudsman is independent and impartial, and to provide general guidance. Further, the Ombudsman is responsible to the Retirement Commissioner for matters to do with savings. . The banking ombudsman reports to, and is overseen by, the board of directors of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme Ltd. The board of directors has two industry and two consumer representatives and an independent chairperson.

Cautionary notes
  • The complaints service provided by the Banking Ombudsman is free and strives to be widely accessible to the public. While the Ombudsman will give you information on how to proceed with your complaint, you may wish to hire a lawyer to help you.


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