Table of Contents
Hereby you find some agreements obtained by the Ombudsman in financial conflicts
The claimer is a 78 years old lady. She goes to her bank’s branch office to withdraw some money.
Description of the dispute:
While she is inside the bank, she is spied by some thieves. A while later, when she is at home, someone knocks on her door. It is a pregnant woman and another woman asking for some help. They say the pregnant one is about to give birth to her child and that they must immediately call her husband. The old lady lets them come inside to make the phone call.
While they are inside, the other woman, the one who is not pregnant, goes around a desk and touches it several times. The old lady notices it as it is the desk where she keeps her bank cards. Ten minutes later, the husband arrives and they all leave.
A couple of days later, the lady notices abnormal withdrawals on her account and asks the bank to be refunded. The bank refuses alleging a gross negligence from the claimer.
Mediation service’s decision:
The claimer saw that an unknown person touched the desk where she kept her bank cards and she did not checked afterwards if her cards where still there. It is a behavior that is not careful. If she had immediately checked after the thieves left, she could have realized what was going on and notice her bank. In this case, the damage would not have occurred.
This may maybe a lightly reckless behavior but this cannot be considered as a gross negligence for the following reasons :
she was an old lady chosen by "professional " thieves for her weakness;
it was normal to let those people come inside her flat given the situation;
she thought she was helping some people in an emergency situation and had no reason to suspect them of theft;
she was put in a stressful situation by the thieves. In such circumstances it is normal not to think directly about her card’s security;
she did not know her secret code had been spied a couple of hours earlier. Hence she did not know that her cards became insecure.
The College decided that the bank had to refund the customer. The bank complied with this decision.
Unilateral price increase at the customer's expense.
The complainant took out a mortgage loan in 2006. This credit implied that he also had to take out two insurances (life and fire) and to open an account with the bank, on which his salary had to be paid. The charges linked to this account have changed several times: 15 euro/year in 2006, then free of charge, then 42 euro/year in 2014. Finding these price increases excessive, the complainant asked to benefit from a free-of-charge account again, as he and other customers already had in the past. Not keeping the account would mean losing the favourable rate obtained for his mortgage loan.
Opinion of Ombudsfin’s board of experts:
The Board decided that the various financial services linked to the mortgage loan made up a set of factors forming the basis of the complainant’s decision to take out his mortgage loan with this specific financial institution. According to the Board, the price increases represent a unilateral strengthening of the credit terms at the consumer’s expense based on elements solely depending on the institution’s will, which is prohibited by article 74(3) of the Market Practices and Consumer Protection Act of 6 April 2010 (article VI.83(3) of the new Code of Economic Law).
As a consequence, the Board has invited the institution to offer compensation to the complainant.
Legitimate complaint, the bank followed the Board’s opinion.
Charges for an international payment that was not carried out.
The complainant sent a transfer order to his bank’s local office concerning the payment of a sum of 400 euro to a Russian bank account. He had called beforehand to ask whether this transfer was possible and how much it would cost. The bank answered this was possible and would cost 5 euros.
In the end, the sum could not be sent and the bank paid 350 euro back, i.e. the initial amount of 400 euro minus 50 euro of administrative fees.
The bank could not send the money because the Swift message of the receiving account specified that it only accepted transactions in roubles. As a consequence, the sum of 400 euro minus the fees (50 euro) had to be refunded.
Opinion of the Board of experts:
On the one hand, the Board thinks that the bank partially failed to fulfil its information duty towards the consumer concerning the possible administrative fees linked to the non-execution of the payment order when he called for information.
On the other hand, the Board believes that in this specific case, the complainant could and should have read himself the bank’s terms, which are very clear as regards the possible administrative fees linked to international money transfers: ‘in case of reimbursement, all the possible charges applied by other banks will be taken into account’.
In conclusion, the Board considers that this is a case of shared responsibility (50 % for each party) between the parties and suggests that the complainant pays one half (25 euro) of the fees and the bank the other half (25 euro).
Partially valid complaint, the bank followed the Board’s opinion.