Unfair banking practices

Dear Editor,

The following is the body of a letter sent to the Central Bank governor a week ago for attention.

To date, however, I have not received acknowledgement of same, and would, therefore, wish to share it with the public in your publication as well as on social media so that many more of “we, the people” can also register our concern over this situation that continues to plague the “customers” of banking institutions in this country.

Our voices must be heard, as we, too, have rights. Speak up Bahamas!

I am writing in connection with the proposed fee increases slated for September 1, 2022 from another international bank, and wish to register my concern to learn that yet another bank is planning to impose new fees, along with some being a 50 percent increase, to their customers at this difficult time.

One must ask why and where has customer service gone, as the customer surely is no longer king!

I was extremely pleased when the Central Bank stepped in to mitigate the outrageous fees being charged by other Canadian banks last year, as these were also unconscionable.

In addition, staff teller decreases seemingly continue to be instituted throughout Bahamian banks which lead to longer wait times for customers standing on lines to receive service during these COVID times.

This also negatively affects the business customers’ productivity, which seems to be of no concern to the banks.

Although the banks claim that these impositions are a means of encouraging more “digital banking”, there are still many Bahamians, particularly in the senior citizen category, who do not have knowledge of nor access to, computers, iPhones, or even credit cards. Surely their needs must be taken into consideration.

Further, the announcement that checks are being phased out is also cause for much concern in the personal as well as the corporate business world.

One also wonders if the banks, realizing that they will be losing significant income related to the processing of checks, are, therefore, looking for other ways to supplement this loss.

Checks help significantly as a deterrent to crime by eliminating the need to have cash on hand.

Not being able to use checks will not only negatively affect the local check printing industry, but will encourage customers to use credit cards as a means of payment, thus more money will be leaving the country to pay for foreign credit card fees.

Although this might well increase demand for the use of digital currency such as the Sand Dollar, unfortunately there is much more education needed in this regard in order to make the public aware of its use. Even though I have attended several webinar presentations, I still do not understand how the Sand Dollar works.

It has always been my contention that the banks, particularly the foreign branches set up here for decades that have made considerable profits from their Bahamian customers, continue to hold us hostage by these unfair practices, charges, and fees.

Yet they continue to garner interest from our deposits whilst no longer offering customers any interest on savings!

Consequently, the balance continues to dip in their favor to the detriment of we, the people, and this is not right.

It is my hope that the Central Bank will once again step in to correct this imbalance. We, the people, look forward to such an intervention!

I would also be most grateful if you would please acknowledge receipt of this email.

With kindest regards,

Pam Burnside

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