Friends Life accused of poor service over pension delays

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An adviser has complained to Friends Life after waiting five months for information about a client’s pension and being told a retirement pack could take a further 40 days to arrive.

Rowley Turton chartered financial planner Scott Gallacher sent Friends Life a letter of authority on 4 March, shortly after taking on the client.

He chased the provider several times and raised a formal complaint before receiving some of the information requested on 17 August.

After receiving the information, Gallacher requested a retirement pack from Friends Life and was told it could take another 40 days to receive it.

He says: “Effectively, it will be seven or eight months before [the client] can get his money, leaving them in limbo.

“We cannot request the retirement pack when we request the original information because with some providers, depending on what type of pension you have, just requesting a retirement pack triggers certain events and can change the benefits.”

Gallacher says Friends Life, which merged with Aviva last year, blamed the initial delay in sending out information on a software upgrade which meant it could not access customer details.

A delay in responding to his initial complaint was attributed to a high volume of complaints, he was told.

Gallacher now has two outstanding complaints with the provider – one related to the five month delay and one concerning the timeframe to receive the retirement pack.

An Aviva spokeswoman says: “We sincerely apologise for the poor level of service we have provided and we are looking into the cause of the delays as a matter of urgency.

“We aim to resolve all complaints quickly and fairly. Where we have caused a delay, we will also make sure the client hasn’t lost out financially. Where we fail to meet expectations, our first priority is to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and act on any feedback we receive, and we are sorry that we were not able to do so in this case.”