Online bank First-e has been prevented from joining the UK Banking Ombudsman scheme because it has no physical presence in the UK.
First-e, owned by Banque d'Escompte, has instead announced plans to establish an independent adjudication service to handle complaints, and a customer council to monitor the bank's performance against stated target service levels.
The new adjudication service will be able to make awards of up to £250,000 which First-e, but not its customers, must honour.
Customers can take complaints to the service if First-e fails to meet its own four-week target to make an agreement, or the customer fails to agree a timetable for further action proposed by the bank. It will be run by law firm Lawrence Graham and headed by Tony Willis.
The bank's customer council will be made up of six customers and chaired by Lee Tate, founder of the Ecommerce Association. It will review the bank's performance and offer a channel for customer feedback, publishing reports on First-e's website every quarter.
Richard Thackry, UK country manager at First-e, said: "Since we cannot, at present, join the UK ombudsman scheme, we are creating a way to give our customers straightforward, free and accessible redress for any mistakes we might make. Ultimately, though, we are accountable to our customers, so we are creating the first customer council of any bank in the UK to give them a real voice in ensuring we deliver."
The rules of the scheme also require members to sign the Banking Code - something First-e has yet to do.
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