Arbitrary Charges: Customers Boycott Banks Today

Arbitrary Charges: Customers Boycott Banks TodayThousands of bank customers across the country are expected to boycott banking services on Tuesday (today) to express their grievances against alleged “arbitrary, illegal and excessive charges” by the Deposit Money Banks.

The Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, a non-profit-making organisation, had a few weeks ago, declared March 1 a ‘No banking day’ to protest the continued imposition of alleged arbitrary charges on bank customers.

CAFON said its members would mobilise bank customers across the country to boycott banking services nationwide.

The campaign is meant to force banks to stop the regime of arbitrary charges imposed on their customers.

The move will involve a peaceful demonstration across major town and cities in the country.

Customers have made complaints of several illegal and arbitrary charges imposed on them by commercial banks.

Last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria said the DMBs refunded N6.2bn in excess and illegal charges to bank customers in 2015.

Meanwhile, the CBN on Monday reiterated its earlier stance to protect bank customers against excessive charges by commercial banks.

It said in a statement that customers, who have genuine complaints about arbitrary charges, should forward same to the Consumer Protection Department of the apex bank.

The CBN was reacting to threats by CAFON to boycott banking services from Tuesday, March 1, 2016, owing to perceived arbitrary charges by commercial banks.

The apex bank in the statement said while the banking sector had witnessed radical reforms in recent years which had assisted in driving the Vision 20: 2020 programme, it would not allow the imposition of excessive charges on bank customers.

The statement read in part, “The CBN rolled out the cashless policy with a number of options in the electronic payment systems, including the mobile banking.

“To achieve this, the CBN had enlisted electronic and telecom service providers to ensure convenience and safety.

“In addition, the CBN also set up the Consumer Protection Debarment saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that bank customers are not unduly short-changed by the commercial banks.

“It is equally expected that while the regulators are doing their own bit, bank customers must not only insist, but persist in demanding that their respective banks give them good service and at affordable charges.

“Nigerians should note that the bank-customer relationship is personal and contractual and should seek for redress when short-changed.”

In order to ensure a mutual and beneficial bank-customer relationship, the statement said the CBN had issued guidelines on bank charges, which it said had been widely circulated.

The guidelines, it stated, would ensure standards as well as assist bank customers make informed decisions regarding any unjust charges.

The CBN stressed, “It therefore remains the obligation of the bank customers to ensure that they are not short-changed, no matter how small.

“In the event that customers failed to stop their banks from cheating them, the CBN had again gone further to provide contact centre with telephone lines, email address to enable customers to lodge their complaints with its Consumer Protection Department.”

The statement recalled that the CBN had investigated about 6,000 compliance cases which led to the recovery of about N6.2bn from the DMBs as excessive charges imposed on their customers in 2015.

The statement added, “While the CBN should continue to ensure that all parties in financial transactions are adequately compensated and protected, it is only fair that the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria in organising the planned protest take cognisance of value creation by the enablers of today’s convenient financial transactions process.

“They should also get involved in encouraging Nigerians to take complaints that are related to wrongful bank charges to the appropriate quarters.”

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