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Why banking customers are an angry lot

By Macharia Kamau | October 29th 2019 at 11:00:00 GMT +0300

Banking customers are an angry lot.

They feel robbed by banks through opaque transaction charges while in numerous instances, money has disappeared from their accounts, with the lenders rarely taking time to listen and address their issues.

Even when the institutions lend them an ear, the customers hardly recover their money.

This is according to a recent report by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD), which recently started conversations on social media to evaluate the extent of bad bank experiences in Kenya. Through online chats on the quality of services as well as prompting customers to share their experiences with the financial sector players, Kenyans (at least the ones with access to Twitter and happened to come across the Twitter threads) poured their hearts out.

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The concerns ranged from money missing in bank accounts and mobile money service providers deducting money despite failed transactions, to banks listing their clients for defaulting on non-existent loans.

Other issues that incense Kenyans as captured by the FSD report include excessive charges when checking the account balance and even instances where customers still have to pay to deposit money into their accounts.

“In Kenya, financial consumer protection via channels such as government authorities is still very limited, and cases of mistreatment of financial customers are commonly reported in the Kenyan media, often with no resolution for the consumers,” said FSD.

“This frustration has led some to turn to social media to both attempt to resolve their problems and, it appears, publicly call out consumer protection abuses. Through this active Twitter population, a clearer view is emerging of the extent and type of problems that occur with financial services and how providers and government agencies do—or do not—respond.”

Failed transactions

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The concerns raised on social media, even when the aggrieved consumers “tag” their service providers are rarely acknowledged. This is despite one case or complaint posted on social media appearing to embolden others to also post their experiences with the same or other banks.

FSD - using the Twitter handle @pesastory - identified an instance where a customer of one of the top banks had lost Sh36,100 from his account and when FSD shared it online, it attracted more people, complaining that they too had lost even bigger amounts, with their banks not offering refunds or explanations.

“We highlighted these cases via a conversation thread, which led to other consumers sharing missing money experiences, including stories of how long it took to get their refunds, if they got them at all. In addition to missing funds, there are consumers who have raised concerns about loans being originated on their accounts that they never took.

“These issues point to serious concerns over internal fraud and identity theft… and a need for banks to focus on their data and account security obligations.”

The report also tells of a banking customer who wanted to move money he had received on his mobile money wallet to his bank account. He tried to do the transaction twice and it failed both times, but he was charged for the transactions.

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“Failed transactions between mobile money are not unheard of and are a common complaint from customers. However, in this case, the failed transactions were not the only problem the consumer faced. They were also charged for the failed transactions…. Despite complaints to the two providers, this case was not resolved and the fees were never returned,” said the report.  

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