I made triple losses to my former banker; losses that were borne of: account opening charges for three bank accounts; exorbitant charges during the time my bank accounts were open; and Ushs 20,000 for closing each of my bank accounts.
I could have avoided those loses and such a painful experience if I had paid close attention to bank charges on my accounts by my former banker.
Anyway, one time, I noticed that the balance that I expected to have been on my account was lower than I thought it should be. I decided to request for bank statements from my bankers covering the whole of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.
To my utter surprise, I found that during a seven month period, July 2010 to January 2011, the monthly bank charges on my account more than doubled.
Furthermore, I noted that my bank charged me for both outward transactions of money coming out of my account and for inward transactions of money coming into my account.
The charges on outward transactions included:
- ATM withdrawal
- Cashing cheques at the counter
- Cheques drawn from account
- Internal transfers to client’s other account within the bank.
The charges on inward transactions included:
- Other cheque deposit
- Counter cash deposit
- Telegraphic transfers from another bank into bank account,
- Internal transfer from client’s other account within the bank
Of all the charges, only the ATM charges were clear. This is because they were automatically charged per ATM cash withdrawal. The others were charged out in form of a fixed monthly service charge of Ushs. 10,000 and what was referred to as “transaction charge”, which varied monthly.
The monthly service charge was not new to me. Since I opened my accounts, three years prior, it has been charged. I had assumed that the service fee was justified on grounds that it covers such costs as the monthly transactions on the account. That is why the new “transaction charge” was not clear to me.
I went to one of the managers of the bank branch that I frequented. I asked him to explain to me how the “transaction charge” was arrived at. He told me that it was Ushs. 1,500 per transaction.
In rapid succession I then asked:
- What is the service fee for?
- Does it mean that the bank charges me twice, when I move money from one of my bank accounts in the same bank?
- Does it mean the bank charges me for bringing money into the bank?
I noticed from the facial expressions of the branch manager that he too found this charging system quite baffling. He explained that he was ‘new’ on the job and that the charges on my account were done before he had joined the bank.
Shortly after my complaint, the bank reverted back to only charging one of the monthly fees, the “transaction fee” and it did not charge the service fee at the same time.
I had falsely hoped that the bank would decide to refund me either the Ushs. 70,000, which it took from me as bank charges or Ushs. 51,000, which it took from me as transaction charges during the seven month period. It never did to the day that I closed all my accounts.