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BAHAMAS authorities conduct survey on banking services

Chairman of the Consumer Protection Commission,Jerome Gomez. Chairman of the Consumer Protection Commission,Jerome Gomez.
NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 21, CMC –The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) says it has conducted a Consumer Banking Survey (CBS) to gauge public opinion and perception on the services provided by local clearing banks, and the level of fees associated with the provision of those services.

We want banks in The Bahamas to take a serious look at the way they deliver customer service to their clients and make every effort to make that experience less frustrating and more pleasurable for their clients.

“We want the Central Bank, its Board and Management to take a look at the issue and see if bank fees should be regulated, and whether all increases and decreases should be approved or declined by the Central Bank,” said the Jerome Gomez, the chairman of the Consumer Protection Commission.

He told reporters that the 598 persons had responded to the survey, 402 short of the original goal of 1000, with 177 persons or 30 per cent of respondents completing the survey online.

“We are going to make this survey results available to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Labour who has responsibility for the CPC, the Central Bank of The Bahamas and each of the commercial banks in The Bahamas,” the Chairman said.

“We would like to get a public discussion going to clarify if the banking service determining process is broken and needs to be repaired,” he added.

Gomez said that the CPC wants to know whether the banking fee structure is “running amok” because banking fees are unregulated and banks are trying to improve their balance sheet through fee increases, as opposed to creating new and innovative banking products for their customers in an effort to improve profits.

He said the Commission also wants to determine whether commercial banks are concerned about customer service, as most Bahamians feel trapped and locked in with their current banks. Most find it a hassle to change banks.

He said the next step is for the CPC is to examine what fees are charged in the foreign banks home countries and see how they match up to fees in the Bahamas.

“We will also look at fees in the Caribbean region and see how they match up to those charged here in the Bahamas,” he said, adding that the Commissioner would like for the Perry Christie government to look at the Banking Sector and examine whether it is time to introduce competition through the granting of new banking licences.

“We want the public to know that they have rights to exercise their consumer rights through advocacy. We encourage persons who are interested in creating consumer groups to do so, to look at issues affecting their rights as consumers throughout The Bahamas and form associations to deal with these issues to drive the issue forward and to regain their rights as consumers to fair service.”

According to the survey, on the question whether respondents think there is consumer protection in the Bahamas for retail bank customers, only 92 persons responded yes,  while 498 or 83 per cent said no.

On the fundamental question of whether respondents thought that the service fees/charges associated with their account(s) were appropriate for the services received 434.81 (72 per cent) persons voted no while 148.19 (24.8 per cent) said yes.

With respect to the number of fees, 494 (82.6 per cent) felt there were too many fees, 4.7 per cent said there was a fair number of fees, while 2.2 per cent or 13 persons said there were too few fees.

  • Countries: Bahamas