Do you know about Yelp? Maybe Tripadvisor?
If you’re looking for a new restaurant or you’re traveling and find yourself in an unknown place, Yelp and Tripadvisor take some of the guesswork out finding a quality restaurant by publishing customer reviews. You can search for restaurants by the amount of positive reviews and companies can respond to the review in an attempt to rectify a negative customer experience.
Websites like these have caused some local businesses to clean up their act since they know that savvy consumers reference these sites en masse. They know that bad reviews can affect their bottom line just as positive reviews can increase traffic.
Not all businesses have such a low tech yet effective system of oversight.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know how a certain bank in your community treats its customers? When trying to choose from the sea of credit card offers, wouldn’t it be nice if you could see what other card holders around the country think of the card?
Credit Card Complaints Made Public
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on June 19th that they were making customer complaints of financial institutions available to the public via a public online database.
Let’s say that one of your credit card companies did something that you didn’t like.
Maybe they raised your interest rate without giving you the appropriate advanced notice required by law. You called the company and complained but nothing happened.
Next, you contacted the CFPB and filed a complaint.
The CFPB looked over your complaint and forwarded it to the issuing bank of the credit card and gave them 15 days to provide a response. The CFPB expects that the issue be resolved by the bank within 60 days.
From July of 2011 to June of 2012, the CFPB received 45,630 complaints with 16,840 of those related to credit card disputes, 19,250 mortgage complaints, 6,490 were bank oriented, and 1,270 were private student loan complaints.
In the past, the only way consumers could access this information is to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
This process was cumbersome and even for the biggest media outlets, obtaining information after filing the request took a considerable amount of time.
As of June 19th, this information is now available to the public. Because the database is in its infancy, only credit card complaints are currently available to the public but that is expected to change as it moves from its first-version form.
There will be no information released that will identify the person who made the complaint.
Although this new database is not yet as user friendly or informative as Yelp or Tripadvisor, it’s a first step in providing a way for users to comment on the treatment they receive from financial institutions.
CNN reported that banking trade groups aggressively lobbied to keep the database out of the hands of the public indicating that much like small businesses, even the largest financial institutions recognize the power of public review websites and how they can negatively affect business.
Perhaps with more complaint information available, banks and such will work a little harder to resolve issues and make consumers satisfied? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part?
Make your voice heard by filing a complaint if you have an unresolved dispute with your bank, credit card, or mortgage company.
You can access the CFPB database by clicking here.