As a customer of a bank or financial institution, you are entitled to rights which have been formulated as the customer’s bill of rights by The Central Bank of Nigeria.
These rights are guaranteed by law, regulations and conventions.
Amongst other rights, the following are the customer’s bill of rights:
The Right to be informed
As a bank customer, you have a right to disclosure of information from your bank on goods and services the bank offers. The information provided must be complete, relevant and truthful. Your bank must explain to your understanding all contractual terms and charges prior to the consummation of any agreement or contract. This right enables customers to have relevant information in order to make rational choices. It amounts to a breach of your right if your bank fails to provide this information or deliberately misleads you in any way.
The Right to choose
You have a right to select from the range of products and services made available by your bank at competitive prices. This means that as a customer, you can, at all times, decide on the product or service to accept/purchase and the ones to decline. It is wrong for a bank to restrict your choices or compel you to accept/purchase products or services that are ill-suited for your needs. Where you are not satisfied with your bank’s service delivery on any product or service, you have the right to end the contract or even the banking relationship provided all outstanding commitments are settled by the customer.
The Right to safety
This right requires a bank to guarantee all its customers a secure and conducive banking environment devoid of threats to their safety and health. You have the right to be reasonably protected from accidents while on the premises of your bank. You also have the right to be protected from the negative effects of pollution of any kind whether arising from your bank’s operations or from other sources. It is necessary to stress that your bank is obligated to adhere strictly to applicable safety laws and directives to ensure that your safety and wellbeing are adequately guaranteed while you are on the premises of your bank.
The Right to privacy and confidentiality
As a bank customer, you have the right to freedom from disclosure of your account details by the bank as well as intrusion into your account by third party. In other words, your bank must not divulge your account information to a third party; the bank must also protect your information from unauthorised access by a third party.
There are, however, exceptions to this right as follows:
1. Where the bank is required by law to make disclosure; and
2. Where the customer consents to the disclosure.
The Right to redress
A bank must provide its customers a redress mechanism to express their displeasure or grievance. The mechanism must be free, accessible, transparent, timely and convenient. You have a right to efficient complaints management system through which you can lodge complaints against your bank. You also have the right to be kept abreast of resolution process (acknowledgement, feedback, updates, explanation) and ultimately, basis of decision. Where you are not satisfied with the decision of your bank, you have the right of review either by your bank, the CBN or the court.
The Right to good service
All customers have a right to value for their money which involves the right to be treated with respect and dignity by banks and their representatives. The hallmark of banking is customer satisfaction and as such your bank would have failed if it was unable to offer quality and value-adding banking services to you as a customer. Part of this right is that your bank must provide appropriate response to your needs and complaints.
The Right to equality
This right requires that a customer is treated equally as other customers regardless of differences in financial standing/deposit balance, physical ability, age, gender, ethnicity, or creed. It is wrong for a bank to offer preferential treatment to some customers at the expense of other similar kind of customers. However, banks may decide to differentiate customers on account of the nature of products customers purchase or subscribe to. In this case, some customers may benefit from certain privileges which are features of specific products or services.
The Right to free monthly statement of account
The provision of the Revised Guide to Bank Charges is that banks are required to provide their customers free statement of account on a monthly basis. This means that you have a right to get your monthly statement of account from your bank at no cost. It should be noted, however, that the Guide provides that any special request attracts a fee of N50 per page.