Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Faulty ATM's In Accra: ReadyCash or Cash Not Ready

Do you know, banks can rip you off without you knowing? If you are reading this and are a customer of a Ghanaian bank, it is likely your bank is exploiting you in more ways than one which you aren't aware of. This illicit practice has survived for a long time because we have a weak consumer watch-dog group in Ghana and the Bank of Ghana appears ineffective looking after the interests of the public through regulation.

Some time ago, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) gave directives to banks to abolish or reduce what it described as unwarranted bank charges and fees. But all this appears to have fallen on deaf ears. As a result, undue exploitation of customers, unfair and uncompetitive practices by the commercial banks in the country have conjoined to discourage many Ghanaians from patronizing the services of the banks.

The last time fire gutted the Kumasi Central Market, cash exceeding millions of cedis got destroyed. Similar incidents have taken place previously at the Makola Market in Accra and other markets countrywide. This is because the services of banks in the country lack human face so traders have no recourse but to keep millions of cedis under market tables.

The irrational minimum initial deposits, punitive deductions for maintaining balances below thresholds, punitive charges for cheque withdrawals, salary processing, use of ATMs, extremely low interests on savings are just a few of the various complaints from the banking public. And BoG’s inability to enforce its own rules and regulation makes most Ghanaians to have little faith in the banks. The bank tariff regime in the country is not only unacceptable but is illegal.

In Ghana when one uses the ATM to withdraw cash from his/her account, one is charged between GHC2.00 and GH0.50p depending on the bank. When you request an interim bank statement, you are charged. What happens, when you try using a bank’s ATM and its faulty? Does the bank pay you back?

This morning, I was a bit late for work therefore I decided to be fast by stopping a taxi. I jumped into the taxi not even bargaining how much, the driver was charging me for the trip from my home to the office. Upon reaching my co-located office premises at the Gulf House near the Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout, I decided to pay the driver by cashing some few Ghana cedis from the Ghana Commercial Bank’s ATM located around.

To my utmost dismay, the ATM was faulty/out of use and couldn’t help me pay this mean-looking cab driver who’s just about ripping me off. Here I am shocked, startled and confused; not knowing what to do again. The amount of money in my pocket wouldn’t be enough to settle the cab driver. Come see my embarrassed face?

Luckily, I saw a colleague also hurrying to use the elevator, approached him to help me out so I could sort him out later during lunch when the banking hall is in session. Thanks Walid for saving me…!!! Don't ask if I paid back, I did after I went to the banking hall later in the afternoon.

My question again; “What happens, when you try using a bank’s ATM and its faulty? Does the bank pay you back?

This afternoon, I went to the banking hall and was again met by a large crowd of people in the hall. The queue was just unbearable. I reported about my inability to use the ATM this morning and how embarrassed I felt. All the lady was able to tell me was; "sorry". I asked, when it would be fixed, she told me blatantly; "I have no idea, Mister". Worst case of customer service again..

Bank of Ghana would do the public good if pressure is put on the banks for them among other things to eliminate the minimum initial deposit requirement [heard some banks now open cashless accounts, though], abolish the fees for account closure, account maintenance, and reduce the Commissions on Turn Over by charging flat rates rather than percentage of volume of transaction, among others.

Foreign banks in the country are the major culprits in the excessive exploitation of customers. Services which these banks render in Europe, America and the rest of the Western World free attract charges Africa - and we are the poorer people. Why is it that in England Barclays Bank do not charge customers for using ATM’s to withdraw cash but when it comes to Ghana they charge us. Are we trying to say that Bank of Ghana is not aware of this broad day light exploitation?

I wonder, why people [including myself] keep saving/doing business with these banks. For your information; I closed my account and my might be trying Zenith Bank out.

Have you had a bad experience with any Bank in Ghana? Have you tried accessing an ATM of any bank and it was faulty? How long did you spend in receiving money from your bank? Would you recommend your bank to me? What makes your bank different from others? Your thoughts, comments are always welcome...!!!


Ghana_Hall_of_Shame said...

Non-Service. A problem we will soon eradicate.
Because we have been quiet all this while, the banks add insult to injury by charging all these fees, and still provide shoddy service.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the things you have mentioned here unfortunately happen here in the US also. I dont know if banks send its customers statements in Ghana but every time you go into a bank to request an official statement, it costs money- $5. I know that there are some charges- ATM fees- when you use an atm other than your banks atm. I think you might get charged a very small fee even if you do use your bank's atm- some banks. So as sad as it is, I think is something that happens everywhere, even here in the US.