Media, IMC Stakeholders Caution Banks on Excessive Charges

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Raheem Akingbolu
Excessive and multiple charges levied on customers’ account by Nigerian banks, received fresh bashing recently when the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) and stakeholders in the integrated marketing communication industry gathered in Lagos and called the operators in the financial sector to order.

Experts from the two groups, who spoke at the consumer rights day symposium in Lagos, under the theme, ’’Banking in Nigeria: Developments and Customers Challenges’’ unanimously agreed that Nigerian banking public are being short changed by the banks. The symposium was organised by BJAN to mark the World Consumer Rights Day.

Among the issue discussed at the event was the concern over cost of ATM withdrawals, debit card issuance and renewals fee of N1000, ATM management charges of N100 annually,
The key speaker at the event, who is also the Chairman of TPT, a public relations agency, Mr. Tokunbo Modupe, said both corporate and individual banking customers are worried about the multiple and excessive charges in the industry.

Modupe said while in year 2015 alone, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) investigated ‘over 6,000 complaints from bank customers and compelled banks ‘to refund the sum of over ₦6.2 billion to affected customers’, the apex bank however, failed to state the total amount claimed by customers, whether or not the affected customers were satisfied or not with the amount refunded and whether the culprit banks were sanctioned.

He said such information would have assisted in appreciating the convergence or divergence of what was claimed and what was refunded, the feelings of the claimant customers about the final outcome of their complaints, and CBN’s ‘resolve’ to continuously enforce the provisions of the Revised Guide to Bank Charges.

“Of course, there have been many complaints by customers of banks about unauthorized and illegal charges. Such fleecing of the customers has become the rule rather than the exception. The excesses come under different descriptions such as management fees, processing fees, interest charges, commission on turnover, card maintenance fees, account maintenance fees, deposit, withdrawal and transfer telephone alert fees, and ATM fees, he said.

Also, the President of CAFON, Mrs. Sola Salako, who rallied consumer advocacy groups penultimate week for a ‘NoBankingDay’ protest, said banking customers should expect more shock as CBN is about to release banking charges for the next three years.
She said from the draft copy published on CBN website, the annual card maintenance fee has now been brought back as monthly fee. She therefore pleaded to Nigerians to take time out to study the draft and start conversation about it, adding that the time has come for all to stand up against cheating.

Speaking on behalf of other banks’ patrons, the President of Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, said banks should not be blamed for excessive and multiple charges. Uju said though he is against such charges but still blamed customers who don’t take their time to read the guides to banking.