The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Tuesday stipulated two weeks as timeframe within which banks and other financial institutions must resolve customers’ complaints on issues bordering on overcharge, unauthorised deductions and other matters.
CBN’s Head of Complaints Management Division, Mr Tajudeen Ahmed, who made this known in Abuja, stated that the decision would ensure that banks’ customers received redress on issues of excess charges or unauthorised withdrawals.
He reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to eradicate short payment of interests and end the culture of excess and arbitrary charges, pointing out that the CBN has since issued a circular, which could be found on the its website showing all legitimate bank charges.
While explaining that any charge outside what is contained in the circular was not allowed and should not be charged, Ahmed said, “The consumer protection department issued guidelines to banks dated August 16, 2011, directing all banks and other financial institutions to resolve all customer complaints within two weeks of receipt of that complaint.
“Before the expiration of that complaint, the financial institution is expected to be engaging the customer on a continuous basis to update him or her on the status of the complaint.
“If it is not resolved within the deadline given, then such a person is encouraged to draw the attention of Central Bank of Nigeria to find solution to that complaint,” he said.
Ahmed went on to advise customers with unresolved complaints to contact the CBN by writing to the Director Consumer Protection Department or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, adding that disgruntled bank customers can visit any branch of the CBN closest to them to lay their complaints.
“The CBN continually engages the banks to find out if their conducts and practices are fair to their customers in order to stimulate people’s confidence in the banking system.
“Non-adherence to that normally results to regulatory sanctions as the case may be,” he said.
Ahmed also faulted banks for setting a limit on ATM withdrawals to get customers to make several withdrawals to cash large sums, stating that, “I have also observed and noted this. Don’t forget that at the beginning, it wasn’t like this. Over time, we started having this problem.
“One of the reasons is that the quantum of N500 denomination is much more than that of N1,000 denomination.
“When we approached the banks about these problems, they said that the machines become easily faulty when it is set to dispense up to N30, 000 to N40, 000 units.
“However, CBN has directed that the machines that allow payment of up to N30,000 to N50,000 should be installed.
“This is still ongoing. The Banking and Payment Department of the CBN is championing it,” he said.
On her part, the Head of Consumer Protection Division, Mrs Hadija Kasim, said bank customers could also avoid some of these issues by inculcating the habit of cashless policy.
She reminded the public that there were various methods to make payments rather than carrying cash, saying: “Let’s not forget that ATM cards can also be used on Point of Sale, POS, terminals.
“We are encouraging people that unless it is absolutely necessary, they should reduce the carriage of cash. Cashless transactions are more convenient, safer and you will avoid the problem of overcharges.”