Public Enquiries Report: The Banking Supervision Department’s Handling of Public Enquiries and Complaints in 2015

 
 
·     A fair relationship between banks and their customers is at the foundation of modern, stable and efficient banking. The Banking Supervision Department attributes great importance to the public’s trust in the banking system, to fair conduct by the banking system vis-à-vis its customers, and to appropriate and beneficial attention to, and handling of, their complaints. To promote these goals, a designated unit—the Public Enquiries Unit—operates in the Banking Supervision Department’s Bank–Customer Relations Division. The Unit serves as an address for the general public for receiving information and handling complaints. In addition, the Unit serves as a source of information for other units in the Banking Supervision Department regarding banking consumer issues that require cross-organizational regulatory handling.
·     In 2015, the Unit handled about 18,000 telephone enquiries and about 5,000 written complaints, enquiries and requests for information.
·     The Banking Supervision Department rates the quality of banks’ dealing with their customers, as reflected in the enquiries and complaints with which it deals. In 2015, of the five large banks, First International Bank received the highest possible rating—“particularly good”, and four banks were given an identical “good” rating (Discount, Hapoalim, Mizrahi-Tefahot, and Leumi).
·     In 2015, only about 11 percent of the complaints—regarding the five large banks—in which the Banking Supervision Department formed an opinion were found to be justified. This is about 88 complaints (at the smaller banks and the credit card companies there were only a few complaints found to be justified). The relatively low share of justified complaints deriving from, among other things, the many disagreements that are currently resolved directly between the customer and the bank, indicates an improvement in the fairness and efficiency of the banking system in the handling of the public’s complaints.
·     A notable issue in which the Banking Supervision Department classified complaints as “unjustified” was the refusal by banking corporations to extend credit to a customer, in specific cases where in the banks’ opinion the customer would not be able to repay the credit. In this regard, to the extent that the extensive examinations carried out buy the banking corporations indicate a concern that the customer will not be able to make the payments, the bank’s refusal to provide the credit is for the customer’s own long term good.
·      In 2015, the Banking Supervision Department adopted international standards regarding public enquiries and complaints in the banking system. Along these lines. In April 2015 a new Proper Conduct of Banking Business Directive went into effect, dealing with “Handling Public Complaints”. As a direct result, the Banking Supervision Department ensured that customers would have access to mechanisms of fair handling of complaints—it was established that at each bank a public enquiries representative (ombudsman) would be appointed, and that a bank is to respond to a customer’s complaint within only 45 days. The experience since the implementation of the directive indicates that the new mechanism provides a rapid and more efficient response to the general public.
·     In addition, the Banking Supervision Department’s Public Enquiries Unit is available to customers for providing consumer and banking information, and to resolve disagreements in cases in which the complaints were not resolved by the customer enquiries representative in an efficient manner that is satisfactory to the customer. The investigation of complaints by the unit does not involve cost to the customer, and is carried out by a team of specialists in the field of consumer banking.  The Public Enquiries Unit has the authority to decide and determine findings regarding a bank’s behavior, including ruling on compensation to the customer in respect of direct damages, and to issue instructions regarding ways to correct any deficiencies found.
Supervisor of Banks Dr. Hedva Ber said, “I ascribe great importance to the publication of this report, including the qualitative and quantitative findings comparing the various banks, in order to reflect to the public the improvement that has taken place in the banks’ service to their customers, and in order to create an incentive for the banking system to continue acting to maintain and improve fairness in this important system, which provides service on a daily basis to millions of customers.”
 
 
Summary of the Activity of the Public Enquiry Unit, 2013–2015
 
2013
2014
2015
Number of enquiries received by telephone for which handling was completed
21,450
20,346
17,963
Number of enquiries and complaints received in writing for which handling was completed 
5,067
5,555
5,080
     of which: Enquiries and complaints transferred to the banking corporations handling
Not relevant
Not relevant
1,212[1]
 
 
The overall ratings of the five largest banks
The rating is based on a weighted score of the four criteria detailed in the full report.[2]
 
Bank
2013
2014
2015
Discount
Good
Good
Good
First International
Good
Good
Particularly Good
Hapoalim
Adequate
Good
Good
Leumi
Good
Good
Good
Mizrahi-Tefahot
Good
Particularly Good
Good
 
The Public Enquiries Unit of the Banking Supervision Department continues to serve the public in all aspects of its relations with the banks and credit card companies. For information on how to submit bank-related complaints, contact the Public Enquiries Unit:
·         Fax: 02-666-9077
·         Tel: 02-655-2680
·         Address: PO Box 780 Jerusalem 91007


[1] This figure relates to the period from April 1,2 015 to December 31, 2015.
[2] The rating of the banking corporations was based only on data received by the Banking Supervision Department as a result of the handling of customer enquiries and complaints, and is provided as a service to the public. This rating does not provide an overall grade for a banking corporation regarding its range of activities, and thus must not be seen as any suggestion or recommendation.