- Bank customers kick, say charges are illegal
Customers of five banks have paid N393.327billion as account maintenance charges in 2018, against N347.129billion recorded in the 2017 financial year.
The Point’s investigations revealed this just as depositors have continued to complain about the incessant charges, describing them as largely illegal.
The banks, mainly the Tier 1 banks, are: Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Access Bank Plc, and United Bank for Africa Plc.
When our correspondent visited some branches of the banks along Allen Avenue, in Lagos, and Area 3, in Abuja, some customers were seen complaining bitterly about the SMS messages they got from their banks, notifying them of the deductions.
Further investigations revealed that some of the charges include Short Message Services alert fee, hall congestion fees, Automated Teller Machine card maintenance fee, account maintenance charges, money transfer charges, monthly ledger fees, monthly alert fee, over bloated cheque maintenance charges, and air time SMS alert fee, among others.
A detailed analysis of the banks’ financial statements from 2017 to 2018 showed, for instance, that UBA reported total charges, under the heading, “Fee and Commission Income, amounting to N93.997 billion in 2018, compared with N82.937billion in 2017.
FBN Holdings followed with N92.724billion in 2018, higher than the N74.453billion realised in the comparative period of 2017. Zenith Bank closed 2018 with N92.143billion income on the various categories of credit related fees and commissions, against N90.143billion, reported in 2017. Others are Access Bank (N62.095billion), and GTBank (N52. 367billion).
Some of the banks, in their year-end accounts, indicated that credit related fees and commissions were fees charged to corporate customers other than fees included in determining the effective interest rate relating to loans and advances, carried at amortised costs. These fees are, however, accounted for in accordance with the Group’s revenue accounting policy.
Responding, bank customers, under the aegis of Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, have reiterated their stand against the fees and are calling on the regulatory authorities to intervene.
President, BCAN, Mr. Uju Ogubunka, said that it was wrong for banks to charge Account Maintenance Fees, stressing that all over the world, there was nothing as such.
He said, “We tried to fight it the last time, because as far as we are concerned, it is not the right thing to do. You said you removed CoT and replaced it with AMF, and the principle of COT is the same for AMF. So it is like you changed the name. All over the world, there is nowhere banks charge something like CoT, it is only in Nigeria.
Now, you changed the name and say you have removed CoT and introduced AMF. I do know for sure that AMF will one day be removed from our lexicon, but the customers need to come out together and fight it because it is not right. Every other thing you do, the banks charge you. In fact, whether you even transact anything or not, they charge you in some banks.”
Ogubunka, however, explained that some of the charges were supposed to be based on specified items.
“If there is a debit on your account, no matter how the debit came about, whether it is internal or external, they charge in some banks. But it will take the awareness of all bank customers and all of us joining hands together to protest this, and then, someday, it will become a thing of the past just like the CoT or they will change the name to another thing,” he maintained.
He added that BCAN would not relent in its call for the removal of AMF, adding that the issue was one major focus of the Association.
Experts see things differently