Code of Banking Practice: How your bank should treat you
11/07/2018 The banking sector may not be very easy to connect to the Consumer Protection Act like most industries, but it is still obligated to provide you with a little more than just ‘good service.’
All banks that are members of the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) subscribe to the Code of Banking Practice. The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) takes on any complaint that is in accordance with the Code provided the bank is a member of both BASA and OBS.
The most basic responsibility of a bank is to act ethically and fairly. All criteria used to qualify or disqualify you from accessing a particular product or service must be based on commercial principles only and not discriminate against you on the basis of gender, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
Communication and correspondence: All communication or correspondence, including contracts and/or agreements, should be presented in plain and understandable language.
The banks must also inform you, in writing, of any pending changes in their pricing structure or terms and conditions at least 20 business days (5 business days for credit agreements) before the changes are implemented.
In the event that you lay a formal complaint against a bank, your should receive written acknowledgement of the complaint within 3 business days.Accounts: When you open a bank account or become a customer at a new bank, the bank is obligated to inform you of, amongst other things, the following regarding the account or financial product:
- relevant fees and charges;
- the rates of interest applicable to your account/product and the relevant time periods within which those rates will remain applicable;
- pending account closure. The bank has to make an attempt to inform you that your account will be closed prior to it being closed;
- the bank must give you access to a record of transactions (i.e. a bank statement) that take place in your account;
- on the occasion that you’d like to move your account to a different bank, your bank should assist you in making the move, provided you inform them of your decision and provide them with the relevant details; and
- all the relevant Terms and Conditions relating to your account or product.
Marketing and sales: Whenever banks market a service or product, they must ensure that it is presented in a clear manner. Any costs and benefits should not be intentionally downplayed or overstated to push you into making a decision. Any marketing that manipulates or misleads you into entering a contract is illegal.
Once you have opted out of a marketing service, the bank should not continue sending promotional materials to you.
Banks should not intentionally sell products to consumers that don’t necessarily need it by convincing them they can’t access another service or product if they don’t buy it. This is classified as mis-selling and may render a contract illegal. They must also take reasonable steps to assess that one can actually afford a particular (credit) product or service, failure of which may result in reckless selling, which can also compromise the validity of your contract with them.
As a consumer, you have the responsibility to read your agreements with the bank as well as the relevant Terms and Conditions thoroughly. It is also important to ensure that any information you provide your bank with is accurate and true.
If the treatment you received from your bank isn’t up to scratch, you can lodge a formal complaint via Resolver! We will also help escalate your issue should you not be satisfied with the resolution. Note that before a complaint can be escalated to an ombudsman or regulatory body, you must give the bank a reasonable period of time to try and resolve your issue.
As it is with most things, you are unlikely to get anything done or resolved if you fail to uphold your end. Remember, it will always counts in your favour to honour your responsibility if things go sour between you and your bank.