ANZ Bank not using same tactics when it comes to increase in fees and charges

13/12/2017 12:40

The Consumer Council of Fiji welcomes the decision made by ANZ bank to reduce its International Money Transfer fees via internet banking from FJD $26 to FJD $10 from New Zealand to Pacific Island Countries such as Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Kiribati.

This is good news for those who regularly send money to their loved ones in Fiji and other Pacific island nations, particularly during this festive season. Similarly, earlier this year the bank reduced the International Money Transfer fees via internet banking from Australia to Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tonga from FJD $28 to FJD $14.

However the Council cannot comprehend that on one hand ANZ Bank uses publicity to announce reduction in fees and charges, and on the other hand it discreetly increases fees and charges without any awareness to the consumers.

Recently, ANZ Bank was found misleading the public through a public notice published in the local newspapers on 14 September, 2017.

The Bank made changes to their lending, credit card and customer banking services fees and charges. However, it failed to disclose the changes for consumers’ information in order for them to make informed decisions. The public notice which was published in the local newspapers on September 14, 2017 stipulated that the changes would come into effect from October 13, 2017 but the published information was incomplete and consisted of misleading facts.

As per the public notice, under the Microfinance Loans and Administration Charge, the Bank stated: “We’ve included this existing fee, which remains $5 per month”. However, according to the bank’s 2016 disclosures, such a fee was non-existent. In fact, it is a new fee that was introduced by the bank recently.

 It was also noted that ANZ Bank failed to inform its customers that the third tier ($1501 - $2000) under the Microfinance Loans had been removed. This simply meant microfinance entrepreneurs could only borrow up to $1000 from ANZ. So, the limit of borrowing is reduced from $2000 to $1000 with a monthly administration charge of $5 considering the emphasis placed by the Government to expand the micro-finance sector.

 Also, the internet banking internal transfer fee had been increased from $0.30 to $0.40, however, the public notice stated “we have corrected the value of this fee which is charged at $0.40 per transfer”.  

 Such incomplete, unclear and incorrect information are deemed inappropriate for a public notice. How can the bank expect consumers to make informed decisions when they cannot get their disclosures correct?

 The Council has written to ANZ Bank which failed to even acknowledge its letter. The Council has filed a complaint with the regulatory agency, RBF, on 17 October, 2017 regarding the matter and is awaiting for their outcome.

 In order to maintain high service standards and retain their customer confidence, ANZ Bank should properly disclose their fees and charges. Mere release of the reduction in the fees and charges attracting media attention is not the way to go. Consumers have the right to full disclosure of key information.