Complaints about members of the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA)
Ombudsman Services considers complaints about companies that are members of the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) and provide factoring, invoice discounting and asset based lending services to small businesses.
The Asset Based Finance Association, (ABFA), is the UK based trade association representing companies that provide factoring, invoice discounting and asset based lending.
The ABFA members have adopted a self-regulatory code covering their operations, that includes a complaints procedure for clients and guarantors who have complaints about its members and the availability of recourse to the ombudsman where complaints cannot be resolved by members.
When we can help
Complaining about a company that provides factoring, invoice discounting, or asset based lending
Before you can access our service you must contact the factoring, invoice discounting, or asset based lending company to tell them that you are unhappy.
The company must first have the opportunity to resolve the problem for you.
The ABFA members are required to have their own complaints processes, which must be followed.
If the company is unable to resolve the complaint for you, contact the ABFA to let it know you have a complaint about one of its members.
There are some rules about when we can help.
Before the ABFA will formally accept your complaint and refer it to us you must:
- formally register your complaint with the company involved; and allow the ABFA member 12 weeks to resolve it; and
- not have already accepted a final settlement or resolution in relation to the complaint; or
- have received a deadlock letter* from the company.
*A deadlock letter is an official letter to you confirming that it has not been possible to resolve the complaint and you have not already accepted a final settlement or resolution in relation to the complaint.
Telling the ABFA about your complaint
If 12 weeks have passed, or you have a deadlock letter, you should then formally register your complaint with the ABFA.
ABFA will apply the following guidelines:
- You must be, (or have been at the time the complaint arose), a prospect, client, or a guarantor/indemnifier of a client of an ABFA Member.
- At the point a complaint is received by the ABFA or Ombudsman Services, the company about which the complaint relates must be a member of the ABFA.
- The complaint must be received from an officer of the business, such as a director or proprietor, (or an authorised representative), or a guarantor or indemnifier who has directly given a personal guarantee and/or indemnity to the ABFA member.
The ABFA will log your complaint, and then pass your complaint to us.
The ABFA will not attempt to resolve your complaint
Who can we help?
If you have a problem sorting out a complaint about an ABFA member we may be able to help.
We can only consider complaints about ABFA members.
Check the ABFA website to see if the company you want to complain about is a member of ABFA.
Our services are available to clients and guarantors who have a complaint about an ABFA member.
We can help small business customers that have a complaint about an ABFA member.
You can use our service if you are an ABFA member’s client with an annual turnover of up to £6.5 million / €7.7 million. This covers over 80% of the industry’s current client base. This threshold will be subject to review.
There is a deadline for bringing a complaint to us
You must tell the ABFA about your complaint within 12 months from the date you first complained to its member.
Telling us about your complaint
If you would prefer someone else (a third party, eg a solicitor) to handle your complaint for you, we can make arrangements with you to do this.
What we can deal with.
We can deal with complaints where:
- the complaint relates to a factoring, invoice discounting and/or asset based lending facility or a proposed facility through an existing ABFA member in the UK or Ireland; and the annual turnover (revenue) of the business does not exceed £6.5 million / €7.7 million per annum; and
- the action or actions relating to the complaint took place after 1 July 2013; and
- the complainant is not seeking a financial award of greater than £25,000 / €29,000 in relation to the dispute (these are limits to any award we can make).
What we cannot deal with
We cannot accept a complaint if:
- You gave the ABFA member notice of the matter which is subject to the complaint more than 12 months before contacting the ABFA or Ombudsman Services.
- The compliant started and was raised with the ABFA member before 1 July 2013 (service start date).
- The complaint is made to the ABFA or Ombudsman Services more than six months after the member advised the client that it is unable or unwilling to resolve the complaint to the complainant’s satisfaction - for example in a deadlock letter.
- The complaint appears to be frivolous or vexatious.
- The complaint is currently being considered by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- The complaint has no reasonable prospect of success, recovery or redress.
- The complaint is not about an ABFA member.
- The complaint has been or is subject to court proceedings, arbitration, or other independent procedure for the resolution of the complaint or dispute (unless there is proof that the aforementioned process has been abandoned, stayed or suspended).
- The complaint is primarily about the behaviour of ‘third parties’ such as advisors, brokers, lawyers or insolvency practitioners (many of these firms or professions will have their own regulatory or self-regulatory system in place. Complaints about the behaviour of such third parties should be made to the relevant organisations).
- The complaint was previously examined, unless significant evidence has come to the attention Ombudsman Services that may have a material impact on the previously reached decision.
Ombudsman Services’ discretion
Ombudsman Services has absolute discretion to decide whether a complaint is within its terms of reference.
It is not our role to punish companies when deciding what solution to provide. Our awards will be proportionate and will take into account all of the facts in the complaint.
How might things be put right?
If we decide to make an award, and you accept it, the company must take the action that we require. This might include:
- a service or a practical action,
- an apology;
- an explanation of what has happened; or
- a financial award
If a financial award is needed, this will be an amount that we consider appropriate to the individual complaint. We can award up to £25,000.