Banks’ Customers Complaints Up 115% on Transaction Hitches, Excess Charges, Others

Kayode Tokede 

Following mounting daily transactions hitches, excess charges, among other sharp practices by Nigerian banks, nine banks’ customers’ complaints rose by 115 per cent to 5.39 million in 2021 from 2.5 million reported in 2020, the banks’ 2021 result has revealed.

However, the banks resolved 5.13 million or 95.18 per cent customers’ complaints in 2021 compared to 2.29 million or 91.3 per cent resolved cases in 2020.

In terms of value, the total amount claimed by the banks’ customers rose significantly by 141 per cent to N346.7 billion in 2021 from N143.97 billion in 2020.

Conversely, amount refunded dropped by 14 per cent to N15.2 billion in 2021 from N17.7 billion in 2020. 

The banks include; Jaiz Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO), United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Fidelity bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, and FCMB Group Plc. 

THISDAY analysis of the banks 2021 audited financial statements revealed that Jaiz Bank in 2021 reported 118,198 customers complaints, an increase of 8.2 per cent from 109,211 in 2020, while Zenith Bank’s customers complaints rose by 75 per cent to 307,537 in 2021 from 175,702 in 2020. 

Access bank reported 2,205,214 customers complaints in 2021 from 1,738,036 reported in 2020, as GTCO closed 2021 with       673,772 customers complaints from 32,246 customers complaints reported in 2020.

Access Bank in the 2021 AFS stated that it is fully committed to the core value of ‘passion for customers, calling on customers to bring their concerns to the attention of the bank for prompt resolution. 

The bank added that, “Given the number and complexity of financial transactions that take place every day, the bank recognizes that there will inevitably be occasions when mistakes and misunderstandings occur.”

The other banks are UBA with 464,391 customers’ complaints in 2021 from 7,698 customers’ complaints reported in 2020, while Fidelity Bank reported 907,715 customers’ complaints in 2021, from 1,217 customers’ complaints in 2020. 

In addition, Wema Bank of all the banks reported about nine per cent drop in customers’ complaints to 216,772 in 2021 from 237,911 reported in 2020, while Sterling Bank grew its customers’ complaints by 48 per cent to 204,342 in 2021 from      137,620 in 2020. 

FCMB Group reported    296,570 customers’ complaints in 2021 from 73,385 customers’ complaints reported in 2020. 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had recently advised customers to allow banks to resolve their complaints within two weeks.

“If after lodging your complaint your Bank still fails to engage you and resolve the complaint within two-week as provided for in the ATM HELP DESK Circular, you have the right to escalate your complaint to the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the CBN,” the apex bank said.

“You can only direct your Complaints to CPD upon the failure of your Bank/Financial Institution to resolve your complaint within the two- week timeline given by the CBN.”

Commenting, President, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN), Dr. Uju Ogubunka highlighted numerous factors that could led to significant increase in customers complaints in 2021.

He mentioned unprofessionalism of banks staff, customers not equipped to understand banking principle, excess charges 

He added, “I am not sure if banks are intensifying training for their staff but when you see a hike in customers complaints you will see a gap between experience and the practices of banking professionalism. However, we will need to interrogate further on what forms the basis of customers complaints in the banking sector and proffer solutions.”

On his part, the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), ‘Seye Awojobi said the role of the institute in the last 22 years has been ensuring a good avenue at which banks customers are protected in collaboration with the CBN.

According to him, “That, we have done effectively through subcommittees on ethnic and professionalism. The ICAN remains the secretariat of the bankers ‘committee subcommittee on ethnic and professionalism where customers with any complaint will actually report and we will agitate under an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to ensure the bank or any kind of transactions that have led to conflicts to be resolved. We encouraged the banks to attend to all customers’ complaints.

“The subcommittee on ethnic and professionalism of CIBN and CBN encouraged banks to open customer complaints desks in their various institutions. It is when customers are not satisfied with the bank’s resolution, they can then escalate it to a subcommittee on ethnic and professionalism which has a secretariat in the institute to which I have been the secretary to the committee since 2012. 

“They can also escalate their complaints to the consumer protection department of CBN. Bank customers’ complaints are related to excess charges and the subcommittee has done so much that today courts in Nigeria refer cases to the subcommittee to resolve when a customer takes the bank to court. It does not cost anything.  EFCC also refers cases to the subcommittee since we look at cases on the basis principle of banking.” 

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