Consumers’ Rights and Responsibilities

What do you mean by consumers’ rights and responsibilities?
Consumers’ rights and responsibilities are principles of freedom that users of financial services are entitled to before, during and after service delivery. Consumer responsibilities are principles and freedom the consumer needs to extend to the service provider.

What can one expect from your financial institutions?
It is your right to get thorough information about the products and services offered by the financial institution. For example, if it is about a bank account, get to know the benefits and costs associated with each type of account. How much interest you will earn or pay and how the interest rate is calculated and whether it is fixed or variable.

This information should be provided in a simple language to help the client make a decision from an informed point of view. At a minimum, the customer needs to know the following:

  1. What are you supposed to know if you want to get a bank loan?
  2. Terms and conditions of the loan
  3. The charges and fees applicable
  4. Applicable interest rates
  5. The method of interest rate calculation for example flat or declining balance
  6. Total cost of credit for instance; insurance fees, monitoring, loan processing fees, Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) search fees, and collateral registration fees, among others.

What do you need to know, if you fail to pay a loan on time?
You should be informed of the costs and expenses of recovery and these must be reasonable and transparent.
A good financial institution will allow you sufficient notice to normalize your account.

What about the terms and conditions of the loans?
You must consent to the terms and conditions for the service and you are entitled to get a copy.
The terms and conditions must be in a language that you understand.

What do you need to consider for a fixed deposit account?

  1. The terms or duration of the fixed deposit
  2. Whether there are any charges for early withdrawal or not
  3. The total amount you will earn from the fixed deposit
  4. Conditions for the expiry of the fixed deposit – will the money be automatically transferred to another current account or it will be kept in the savings account. The customer should give clear instructions for the disposal of proceeds at the expiry of the fixed deposit.

What do you need to know, if someone asked you to be his or her guarantor for a loan?
The financial institution must give you a written explanation of the responsibilities that lie ahead of you and be advised to seek your own independent legal advice. As a loan guarantor, you will be responsible for the loan outstanding should the person whom you guaranteed fail to pay it.

What if you realize that you have taken a loan you don’t need?
If you change your mind for one reason or the other, you have the right to cancel a loan within ten working days in writing. This applies only to loans of UGX 3 million and above with a term of at least one year. The service provider may make a charge of not more than 5% of the loan value to be able to cover the administration costs.

What if the client can’t read, understand or write English?
English is the official language in Uganda but clients are supposed to get information orally in a language they understand very well. A client can arrange to have a third party of his or her choice for translation if the officer can’t do so and counter sign as evidence that they understood the oral communication or else the client can use a fingerprint if he or cannot append a signature. Clients are urged not to commit themselves by signing documents they don’t understand.

How do you raise your complaint if you are unhappy with your financial provider?
Financial institutions must have complaints’ handling procedures such as complaint books, suggestion box and email addresses easily accessible at the branches, website and other communication channels.

If you find you have a complaint with your Bank, the first step is to raise it with the appropriate officials of the Bank. If you are not satisfied, you should seek audience with the Head of that Institution.

When you have seen the Head of the institution and you are not satisfied, and the complaint is of a general nature you may submit the complaint to the Uganda Bankers Association.
The Whistleblower’s Act, 2010 Laws of Uganda provides for whistle blowing in public interest. You could use tools like https://www.ethicsline.org to blow the whistle in Uganda.

Specifically:

  1. The financial institution should ensure that a feedback is received by the complainant by sending him or her written response within two weeks.
  2. Explain if it’s still upheld or not and why?
  3. If appropriate, offer redress or change promptly

Do you have any obligations as a consumer?
You have obligations to fulfill such as the following;

  1. Provide correct information to know whether you qualify for a given service or product
  2. Maintain a consistent specimen signature or request for a change of signature when you notice a variation
  3. Advise your financial service provider, if you change your address, e-mail or telephone number.
  4. Fulfill the terms and conditions of the services as indicated in the contract documents you signed.
  5. Keep safely your documents that can cause risk of loss to the Bank e.g. Cheque Books etc.
  6. Keep safely / secretly your private codes or pin numbers.