Further elaboration on consumers’ rights and responsibilities

What do you mean by consumer rights and responsibilities?

Rights

What a user (consumer) of products and services provided by any financial institution is entitled to in minimum standards while consuming or utilizing products or services of a financial institution.

Responsibilities

How a User (Consumer) of a Products and Services offered by a Financial Institution is expected reciprocate, or the minimum expectations from User in the consumption or utilization of Products and services of a Financial Institution.

“Before you demand for your rights, you should be a responsible customer in the first place.”

What are some of the rights consumers have?

Some of the basic rights of a Consumer in any dealings with a Financial Institution include:

  1. Fair and equitable service practices from the Financial Institution.
  2. Transparency in services delivered.
  3. Reliable, efficient and effective delivery platforms, products and services.
  4. Full disclosure on terms and conditions of service offerings including charges, risks and penalties.

Are there penalties for financial institutions that disrespect rights of consumers?
Abuse and disrespect of Consumer rights and privileges may be reported by the Consumer to the Regulating body of the Financial Institution, and in this case BOU.

BOU will investigate and determine with due reasonableness if the Financial Institution is wanting. The financial institution shall therefore redress, remedy and/or be sanctioned by the regulator, as the case may require.

How do commercial banks help consumers know their rights?
Commercial Banks help Consumer to know there rights by providing information and advice to the Consumers prior or at the time of providing services through the following means:

  1. Verbal explanation given to the Customers on enquiry or prior to utilization of a product or services by relevant Financial Institution Staff.
  2. Through Products and Services Literature that shall be available to Customers.
  3. Through Tariff Guide, Licences, Statements, and other Point of Sale Literature displayed in the Banking Halls of Financial Institutions.
  4. Through Terms and Conditions and Key Fact Documents provided by the Financial Institution on transactions and Contracts to be consummated between the Consumer and the Financial Institutions.

Where can a consumer go in case a financial institution disrespects his or her rights?
The Consumer may complain using the Complaint Mechanism provided by the Bank through:

  1. Complaints Box, Complaint Register, or web address provided by the Financial Institution
  2. Escalation to supervisory authority of the immediate service provider in the Financial Institution like Branch Manager, Customer Service Head etc.
  3. Escalation to Senior Management at Head Office like MD, Business Head, Auditor, Contact Centre etc.
  4. Escalation to Regulator in this cases BOU
  5. Seek Legal redress in the Court of Law if all of the above fail.
  6. Blow the whistle using the channels provided in the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2010.

How can consumers’ rights be violated?
Consumer Rights can be violated by the Financial Institution as follows:

  1. If as a result of an act or omission by a financial institution, the consumer suffers financial loss, material inconvenience or material distress.
  2. Conceals material information on transactions, and business relationship that may result in material loss to the Consumer.
  3. Provides misleading information to induce a sale. Failure to redress lodged and founded Customer complaints.

What is in place to increase awareness on consumers’ rights?
The Bank of Uganda introduced a Financial Consumer Protection Guidelines (FCPG) effective June 2011 to guide all Financial Service Providers regulated by BOU and operating in Uganda.