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More Stringent Control Of The Banks Needed
Malaysia Perspective | 07 March 2011
By:

By: Lee Chi Hung

You may have encountered one or more of the following unpleasant scenarios at the bank:

1.) When applying for a loan, one bank rejects your application for some reason, but another bank gladly accepts your application.

2.) When requesting the bank for a printout of transactions in your savings or current account that are more than 3 months ago, the bank charges you RM10 or more.

3.) When you have already called the bank’s customer service to cancel your credit card with them, yet you continue to receive bills as well as be levied with the card’s annual fee and other fees.

4.) When your have made your loan payment within the stipulated timeframe, but is later accused by the bank for not paying and the loan amount is carried forward into next month’s bill.

5.) When you missed paying one instalment of your loan within the payment timeframe but made good the outstanding amount the following month together with that month’s due, only to find out that your application for another new loan is rejected.

6.) When you start using the online banking services, the bank stops sending your monthly statements to you, and when you question the bank, the bank staff blames you for not alerting the bank immediately when you did not receive your statements.

7.) When you request for a waiver of your credit card’s annual fee or other charges, the following month’s bill still reflects that your annual fee is outstanding and slaps you with a late fee plus interest.

8.) When a cheque is not honoured for some reason, it goes missing and the bank does not have a clue where it went!

9.), 10.), 11.), 12.) …

Over the Chinese New Year, I was visiting a long-lost friend and happened to meet many other long-lost friends there. So we sat around and chatted about everything and anything, when the topic gradually shifted to the service at the banks. Everyone had a bellyful of fire, and brought up all the above unpleasant situations that they had faced.

One of my friends revealed that one of his relatives had been making his monthly car loan payment as scheduled, only to discover that the bank had dispatched its staff to impound his car! Eventually, the truth surfaced that it was in fact the bank’s mistake, but despite repeated demands for an apology, the bank ignored his requests until the matter was brought up to the bank’s headquarter, which instructed the branch staff to resolve the matter themselves!

I believe you may have personally experienced or heard of cases of poor services by the banks. Complains about the dismal standard of our bank services or the abhorrent attitude of any individual bank staff may be a small matter, but the practice of levying fees on almost every service is a serious matter!

Moreover, banks often impose hidden charges for some services, and unless the bank clients have personally experienced them, many of us are kept in the dark and played for fools all these years!

For example, many of you may not be aware that customers who are using both online and traditional banking services will no longer be issued bank statements, and will be charged for each request for a bank statement printout.

This does not even include the practice of counter staffs enticing customers to transfer their money from fixed deposits to investment accounts by promising high returns (most commonly unit trusts and investment-linked insurance), but ultimately could not honour their commitments. Such examples abound!

Many friends working in the life insurance line have complained that even though banking and insurance are both regulated by the central bank, Bank Negara seems to control the insurance industry more strictly whereby it introduced various stringent regulation over these years, whereas it seems relatively more lenient towards the banking industry.

The previous example of “persuading” customers to transfer their deposits into “high returns” accounts is just one illustration of Bank Negara turning a blind eye towards such practices.

I cannot determine whether such a view is entirely justified, but from the poor service attitude of banking staff to the various fees imposed on almost everything, to even cost hiding, it is about time Bank Negara cranks up control over the banks to minimise unpleasant consumer experiences and rebuild public confidence in the banks.


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