Since 2010, BNP Paribas Personal Finance has provided a fully independent mediation service to customers who are involved in a dispute. This last resort before opening legal proceedings gives customers and our company a chance to reach an arrangement that is fair for both parties.
Catherine Vautrin is a mediator for BNP Paribas Personal Finance. Her answers to our questions give us more insight into her position, the solutions she offers and her role in relations between BNP Paribas Personal Finance and our customers.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Catherine Vautrin and I am the mediator for BNP Paribas Personal Finance. I am not an employee, but rather an outside consultant for the company. I am responsible for working on mediation cases for BNP Paribas Personal Finance customers.
Can you tell us about your role and your connection with BNP Paribas Personal Finance?
My role is to take charge of requests from customers who have already been in touch with the customer and consumer relations departments, analyse the situation and offer a solution for the dispute. My team and I look at the subject of the dispute and go back over the case from the beginning, analysing it and finding a solution that works for both the customer and the institution. The idea is to look at who is right and who is wrong and to find a mediation solution that respects the parties’ rights.
If the customer accepts my offer, we close the case and the mediation is over. If they refuse the offer it can lead to legal proceedings.
So you are independent of BNP Paribas Personal Finance?
I am an outside consultant, meaning that my work at BNP Paribas Personal Finance has been approved by a national commission that analyses the roles and duties of mediators and verifies the training and independence criteria at the company. I am not an employee and I cannot apply for a position at the company.
This independence is in the customers’ interest, right?
Absolutely. It’s essential. BNP Paribas Personal Finance makes a point of honouring the decisions I make, even if they go against the company’s interest. Once my decision is given, the company implements it. That shows that BNP Paribas Personal Finance is really committed to listening to their customers. Customers get better quality service because I am here to offer a second opinion. My role is to look into every aspect as I conduct an in-depth analysis.
Concretely, how do you help them find solutions?
The customer always brings their case to us, not BNP Paribas Personal Finance. After receiving the request, the mediation team goes over the case from start to finish to try to come to a decision. We usually get back to them within two months, although legally we have up to three months – mediation is a regulated activity, after all.
If someone wants you to look at their case, how do they go about it?
You can make a request easily online – we are seeing an uptick in the number of cases submitted online – or by post. Once received, we conduct an initial analysis of the request so we can determine whether the case is eligible for mediation. If it is, we inform the person who submitted the request. Then all the documents are carefully examined. We also contact the BNP Paribas Personal Finance departments so that we can get as much information as possible. We always reply in writing as quickly as possible.
Are you often the last chance for an out-of-court settlement?
Yes, we are the last resort before a case is taken to court. When I send the proposed solution, I explain that this constitutes the end of the mediation and that if the customer does not agree to the proposed solution, they may take their case to court.
> View the mediator’s annual reports here.