The Complaints Commissioner has rebuked the FSA for publishing "misleading" and "ambiguous" information about cheque clearing times on its website.
Pages on the watchdog's website under a section entitled "Bank accounts know your rights" contained ambiguous and contradictory information: in one instance saying banks must comply with cheque clearing times and on another page stating the timelines are just recommendations.
The Complaints Commissioner, which said the episode highlights failings in the way the FSA provides information to consumers, has told the watchdog to apologise to a member of the public who raised a complaint over the ambiguous literature.
The ambiguity revolves around use of the words 'will' and 'can' - which implied banks must adhere to the timelines - and 'should', which suggested banks do not have to comply with the clearance times.
In addition to the inaccurate use of language, the complainant was disappointed that, having raised the issue with the FSA on two occasions, it only addressed part of the problem. Whilst the regulator corrected the misleading information on one part of its website it failed to do soon another section.
"It is extremely disappointing the matter had to be referred back to the FSA and that, despite considering your concerns on two occasions, it did not identify and correct all of the contradictory material," the commissioner said.
The commissioner agreed the language was misleading and has told the FSA to amend all parts of its literature to make it clear the timelines are recommendations only and not rules.
Guidelines governing cheque clearing times recommend consumers should be able to withdraw money from a customer account after four working days and a savings account after six days.
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