Quite often, a dispute may get complicated by tangling with negative emotions if it cannot be settled in an early stage. As a result, the conflict is aggravated, more often by the complainant, resulting in dissatisfaction over the relevant officers or even the whole institution, in addition to the original dispute.
Emotional factors may obscure a dispute and create difficulties to the resolution. In dealing with a case with emotional elements, a mediator may try to “separate people from the problems” by eliminating emotional elements like grievances and disappointments. Eventually, the core issue of the conflict will be identified and a solution will emerge in the resolving process …
Mr. Tong, a 60-year-old businessman of cross-border trading, was a loyal customer of Bank C, in which he held both his personal and business accounts.
One day, Mr. Tong enquired with Bank C on capital preservation investment products for achieving higher returns. In response, two insurance plans with different features were introduced to him by the counter staff. However, he did not pay attention to the different features of the plans and viewed them as similar products. One year later, he eventually found that the two plans were indeed different.
Originally he expected that both plans were of 3-year tenor which allowed him to get back the principal plus interest three years later. However, he later found that one of the insurance plans was indeed with a horizon of 8 years. He felt like being cheated and lodged a complaint to the bank.
In addition to complaining the relevant staff for giving misleading advice during the selling process, he also alleged other staff for negligence and intentional delays which prevented him from acquiring enough information to revoke the contract in the cooling off period. Moreover, he also accused the bank for its procedurally inappropriateness and intentional delays when selling the insurance plans and handling the complaints for him.
Mistrust accumulated over time. Mr. Tong started his own “investigation” and claimed that he managed to identify a variety of “wrong-doings” of the bank and complained on every working procedure of the bank. However, the bank, after its internal investigation, claimed that the working procedures of its relevant staff were properly performed in accordance with its internal guidelines and rules.
During the case management process, it was discovered that Mr. Tong had a very busy working schedule such that he had no time to read through the product brochure to understand his subscribed insurance plans. Also, during the whole complaint handling process, both parties spent much time on handling complaints on people and procedures instead of negotiating on the remedial arrangement. Mediation provided an excellent chance for both parties to re-negotiate for a solution calmly.
During the mediation session, the mediator assisted both parties to “separate people from the problems”. The bank eventually identified and addressed the needs of Mr. Tong by offering him a flexible financial arrangement. Mr. Tong was pleased to accept it.
(The case study above is based on an actual FDRC case. Various information including names of claimant, financial institution and its staff, actual claim and settlement amount have been altered to protect confidentiality.)