Ekegey's Financial Advice
Sometime in April this year, a gentleman walked into my office, as I sat in my office on one of the Private Universities campus in Accra. The gentleman, whose name I cannot recollect, showed me an identity card indicating that he was a salesman from Metropolitan Insurance Company. After my questioning him and he tried to explain to me their various products, I decided to buy an insurance policy for my mother. He provided me with a form bearing the name of Metropolitan Insurance Company, which I dully completed. After this he provided me with another form which indicated an instruction to my bankers to set a standing order on my account for the monthly deduction of GH¢42.95. The gentleman stated, after I had completed the forms, that he was sending the forms to the office to be counter signed by his boss before bringing me my copy of that form, together with my insurance certificate which I agreed before he left.
By the end of May 2012, I noticed a deduction from my Ecobank, Account with Metropolitan Insurance as the recipient. In fact, I was alarmed since I have not received any document from the insurance company to the effect of my policy and have also not head anything from the company or the gentleman who came to my office to sell me the policy. It would interest you to note that this deduction is still going on and the last deduction was the end of last month – July 2012, while I have still not received any document to the effect of my insurance policy.
In early June 2012, I called the customer service of Ecobank and after I narrated my plight and indicating that I wanted to cancelled the standing order to Metropolitan Insurance the officer told me that it cannot be done over the phone so I was instructed to go to my branch to get it cancelled. I went to my branch at Dansoman and spent about 2 hours before a lady attended to me. She asked me to write a letter indicating my intention, after I had narrated the whole scenario to her. I patiently wrote the letter and signed and gave it to her and she said to me that will be done so I could leave. I left the bank with the assurance that there would not be any deduction by the close of that June.
Surprisingly, I noticed another deduction at the end of June and was very much alarmed. Since I was out of Accra at the time I decided to call the Ecobank customer service centre again and this time I spoke to one Cynthia and wanted to find out why the standing order was not cancelled as I instructed. After waiting on the phone for about 5 minutes, she came back to inform me that since I had signed the agreement with the insurance company for the standing order, the bank cannot intervene to cancel unless I go to the insurance company to instruct them of the cancellation. She then indicated to me that the bank cannot do anything. In fact I was furious at this point and asked her how could that be when the only persons who have control over my account are myself and the bank and that no third party could have any control over my bank account. At this point I told the lady that I don’t think I could understand her with such explanation and said goodbye. In fact, the deduction again happened at the end of July 2012.
On the 9th August 2012, after a paid my last respect to the Late President, Prof Atta-Mills, I decided to visit the bank and iron things out. After waiting for some few minutes, I was attended to by one Bertha, who told me nothing different from what Cynthia told me over the phone a couple of weeks ago. I was seriously not going to take that explanation because I insisted that no other person could have any authority over my account apart from myself and the bank, as per the banking code. I therefore decided that I would not leave the banking hall unless I spoke to the Branch Manager. At the office of the Branch Manager, he explain the same issue stating that the deductions are done at the bulk transaction centre and therefore they had no control over it. He stated that once the list come from the insurance company, the deductions are done without any other questioning and verifications. My question was how couldn’t the bank put a simple instruction on that particular trasaction that it cannot go through? At this point we agreed that I put a “No Debit” instruction on the entire account until I was able to solve the issue with Metropolitan Insurance.
Ever since I walked out of the bank, the following questions have been boggling my mind. I think they are very important to all Ghanaians who use the services of Banks and Insurance Companies in the country, so would need some good answers from the authorities.
1. Is it not true that in other jurisdictions, you can either log into your account online or just make a telephone call and cancel any transaction on your bank account from anywhere? But why this does not happen with the banks in Ghana?
2. If this is the general situation with all banking practices in Ghana, then couldn’t we justifiably say that the Ghanaian cannot go to sleep thinking that his/her money is safe in the hands of the banks? Doesn’t this mean that the banks in Ghana are not a safe place to keep one’s hard earned currency?
3. Is this not a “robbery” of innocent individuals from the part of the insurance companies in Ghana? If it was so, how many innocent Ghanaians have been “robbed” in this similar manner by the insurance companies operating in the country over the years?
4. How many Ghanaians are ready or could go through all these hustle that I had to go through to ensure that my money is no more stolen by any “unscrupulous” person/s? In today’s marketing, people can walk to your office and convince you of any such products. You may be able to read through the small lines of such agreement after you are relaxing in your home after work and then notice that the product you have signed for does not meet your needs. Unfortunately you are not protected by the bank because you cannot just call the bank and say “Please, transaction A or B is coming to my account and I want it to be stopped”? You don’t have any right to change your mind over a dubious transaction you mistakenly entered into at the point of your Ghanaian bank?
5. Why did the insurance company start and continues to make deductions from my bank account when there is no document to show any agreement with me? In case something happened to my poor mum now I cannot claim anything because I don’t have any insurance certificate to proof my policy number.
6. Why wasn’t I told at the bank the time, I walked in to sign the first letter instructing them to stop the transaction, that this could not be done? Does that mean the bank officials do not know what the banks’ policies are before they sit down to attend to customers?
7. Are the banks in Ghana collaborating with the insurance companies to “dupe” the unsuspecting poor Ghanaian for the purpose of their bonuses and profits, since they are all operating in the same financial industry?
8. How the poor Ghanaians could be assured that such thing would not continue and that they can call their banks from anywhere and at anytime to stop suspicious transactions on their account? Or how could they change their minds about any previously agreed transactions, which they now want to cancel, and inform their bankers to that effect and go back to bed knowing that their hard earned money is safe with the banks?
I hope you could do something about this unacceptable customer disservice as soon as possible to assure the poor Ghanaian that they should have every confidence in the banking system and keep their moneys at the bank but not in their homes for “Safe-Keeping”.
Remember that as I pen down this letter to you I haven’t had any correspondence from Metropolitan Insurance Company. I hope that after instructing a “No Debit” order on my account (which means I cannot even take money from the account myself or give anybody a cheque on the account), the deduction to Metropolitan Insurance would not be done at the end of this August 2012.
Thank you very much for your attention and I hope some action would be taken for the sake of the ordinary hard working Ghanaian.
George Ekegey Ekeha
Cell: 0249 52 99 47