Amid growing complaints of poor customer service from some banks across the territory, residents are being reminded that they can make complaints to the Financial Services Complaints Tribunal.
The Tribunal’s role is to handle complaints against regulated financial services entities in the Virgin Islands
On May 15, hosts of the Talking Points radio show bemoaned the often empty ATM machines and the long wait times that residents endure at local banks.
Chairman of the Financial Services Complaints Tribunal, Jack Husbands, said residents could bring their grievances to the tribunal which would then dialogue with banks to address reported issues.
“When the complaint is filed, it actually goes to mediation. We have the parties come before us and we try to mediate and find an amicable solution. At the end of that process, we can make recommendations to the institution (bank),” Husbands explained. “If we have a real difficulty, we can make a report to the Financial Services Commission where it will be dealt with. It will either be dealt with as part of the annual review of the financial services institution or it could be dealt with specifically as a one-off by the Commission.”
Husbands stated the Complaints Tribunal makes quarterly reports to the Financial Services Commission based on complaints they’ve received from the public. But he said his office can’t tell the Commission what sanctions to impose on banks and other financial institutions that residents feel are operating below standard.
“The Tribunal makes the report and we may make recommendations and we leave it to the Commission to take it forward as they see fit. But we are not part of that picture. We just listen to the parties and try to mediate,” Husbands explained.
He also added that the Complaints Tribunal accepts a wide variety of reports including those related to individuals who feel they have not received timely responses from banks when applying for mortgage and other types of loans.
The Financial Services Complaints Tribunal started out as the Insurance Tribunal after the 2017 hurricanes when residents felt as if they were being treated unfairly by insurance companies.
It has since expanded its role and now receives complaints about other financial institutions locally. However, many residents don’t know much about the office while others see it as a toothless organisation that does not have the power to implement real changes.