Customers of some banks in Ghana are raising red flags over charges on in-bank withdrawals being introduced by their banks.
The move, some customers say, are ‘’new tactics’’ being used by the banks to rip them off in order to increase their incomes and cut down their operational costs.
“I don’t understand why I have to be charged any amount for going into the banking hall to withdraw my own money that I am saving with my bank”, an aggrieved customer told Business Day.
A customer with Fidelity bank wondered why he was to be charged GHS 5 for withdrawing money from his savings account with a withdrawal slip.
“I walked to a security personnel asking for a withdrawal slip and he told me the slips were no longer in use since customers had been directed to request for withdrawal booklets. When I insisted I did not have a withdrawal booklet but needed to make a withdrawal since their atm was faulty, he gave me a slip used for checking balance and told me I would be charged GHS 5 for the withdrawal. I stormed out of the hall in anger.
How can you charge me for withdrawing my own money? What kind of rip off is that”, he queried.
Checks by Business Day shows that some banks are charging customers for in-bank withdrawals while others have pulled back withdrawal slips insisting customers apply for withdrawal booklets at a monthly fee.
Speaking to a staff of Ecobank who spoke on anonymity, he explained that with the long queues that often characterizes their banking halls, the bank has introduced a three cedi charge per in-branch withdrawal on amounts less than five hundred cedis (GHS 500) to control long queues in the halls.
“The customers themselves have been complaining of long queues and spending long hours in the banking hall due to slow services so we have introduced the three cedis charge to deter customers who withdraw less than 500 cedis from using the banking halls but rather use their debit cards on our atms.
That way, only customers withdrawing large sums will use the halls and this will greatly improve our delivery and reduce too many teller blunders. Truth is, majority of customers in the banking halls withdraw less than 500 cedis so we encourage such customers to use their debit cards”, he added.
A financial service performance analyst and CAMEL rating expert Mr. Isaac Gyimah Adigu who spoke to Business Day on the issue revealed that though the move by Ecobank and other banks was a step in the right direction, the objective and purpose of the directive would be defeated if the extra charges on atm transactions are not addressed appropriately.
He explained that it would be a waste of time to introduce an initiative or provide a service and not make it lucrative to attract customers.
“I have also noticed the new directive with Ecobank and I think it is a step in the right direction. The downside however is that when I withdraw with my atm, I see some vat charges. Yet when I withdraw from the banking hall, I am not charged these vat charges.
This defeats the purpose of the directive if customers are going to be charged for withdrawing their money. Why should I be charged for taking my money that I am saving with you”, Mr. Adigu queried.
He opined that due to the uncompetitive nature of Ghana’s banking sector, banks could get away with certain decisions.
According to the financial analyst, Ghana’s banking sector presents the easiest means of success for any innovative organization that would be willing to be different from the over 20 banks in the country as most banks lacked “business common sense” with no clear direction of where they were heading.