Ombudsman rejects client claim against Xafinity

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Ombudsman rejects client claim against Xafinity
ByMaria Espadinha

The Pensions Ombudsman has rejected a client claim for further compensation against Xafinity, the current administrator of the Atos (Sema) Pension Scheme, and its trustees.

A client, referred to as Mr K, said the trustee and Xafinity failed to keep adequate membership records, mishandled his enquiries, and unreasonably delayed dealing with his complaint.

Mr K, who was a member of the scheme for less than five years, was contacted by Xafinity in 2013, when he turned 60.

A year later, he was asked to complete a late retirement option form. Mr K said he was subsequently given conflicting information about the age at which he could retire.

He also said Xafinity and past administrators failed to keep adequate records of his pension contributions. The company is also accused of excessively delayed providing him with details of the scheme’s formal complaint procedures, despite his repeated requests.

In October 2016, after Mr K complained about how his pension had been calculated, the trustee instructed Xafinity to pay him a pension backdated to age 60, which has been carried out.

In her determination, Karen Johnston, deputy Pensions Ombudsman, said: “I note that the decision not to pay him a pension prior to age 65 was reversed before he contacted this office.

“I find no evidence of outstanding financial injustice in relation to that aspect of his complaint."

The client received £500 from Xafinity in June this year for compensation for distress and inconvenience.

Mr K says the payment was solely redress for the delays on the part of the trustee, and asked the Ombudsman for further compensation.

Ms Johnston acknowledged that “Mr K has raised a number of issues relating to Xafinity’s mishandling of his benefits on retirement, and his subsequent enquiries”.

However, “awards for significant distress and inconvenience are modest, starting at £500. They are not penalties,” she said, considering that the compensation already paid is sufficient.

Ms Johnston is confirming the adjudicator’s opinion, who concluded that no further action was required by either the trustee or Xafinity.

Mr K did not accept this decision and the claim was then passed to Ms Johnston.

The client also said that the total number of failures he has highlighted, indicates to him that other members, and members of any associated schemes, may possibly have been inconvenienced and/or disadvantaged by Xafinity.

Mr K says these failings should be of considerable concern to a Pensions Ombudsman.

Ms Johnston noted, however, that she has “no power to investigate inconvenience or disadvantage which may have been caused to members other than the complainant”.