Bank to pay client Sh1m for failed transactions

Stanbic Bank branch along Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The High Court has ordered Stanbic Bank to pay its client Sh1 million following a botched purchase after her ATM card indicated that she had no money.

Justice Asenath Ongeri found Victoria Mwongeli had proved her case as the bank went ahead to deduct Sh40,995 and failed to return the same for 24 days after her complaint.

The judge said Stanbic breached its end of the bargain.

However, Justice Ongeri declined to award defamation damages after finding that Mwongeli had not roped in third parties to support her claim that the card erroneously indicated that she had insufficient funds.

“Judgment be and is hereby entered in favour of the plaintiff against the defendant in the sum of Sh1 million plus costs and interest from the date of this judgment until payment in full,” said Justice Ongeri.

The case stems from a transaction that happened in 2010. Mwongeli said that on May 24, 2010, she presented her visa card at a Tusker Mattresses Limited (Tuskys), T-Mall branch, to pay for a fridge and its accessories. However, her card indicated that she had no money.

She said she tried several times to swipe but the results were the same. She argued that the failed transaction caused her shame, as other customers in the queue grew restless.

The court heard that the fridge had to be returned.

Despite the failed transaction, she said, Stanbic debited Sh40,995. She stated that the bank only returned the funds after 24 days of rigorous follow-ups.

On August 4, 2014, the card again failed while shopping at Nakumatt. Mwongeli told the court it indicated that the payment had been declined.

She said “insufficient funds” and “payment declined” outcomes were defamatory.

Mwongeli said when the card failed, she was expectant and was subjected to humiliation as Stanbic customer care did not save the day after her frantic calls.

She also said the card again failed in 2015 after she had eaten at a restaurant. She said the card indicated ‘no response’. This, she said, was another episode of embarrassment.

The lender called Mr Edward Mwangi who ­­­explained that the Tuskys transaction was successfully authorized. However, he said, the response may have failed to reach the point of sale machine due to timeout or technical issues with the systems.

He argued that it was unfair to claim that the money was maliciously withheld from her. According to Mwangi, the case was time-barred as it took five years to file.

Mwangi also said Mwongeli signed a consent that vindicated Stanbic from any loss arising from any failure, malfunction or delay.

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