Monday, 15 March 2010

World Consumer Rights Day in the news

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2010 has already been highlighted in English-language media from across the world. To see coverage from your country visit the WCRD 2010 in the news section at

Happy World Consumer Rights Day!

From mystery shopping in Serbia to crossword puzzle competitions in Singapore, the global consumer movement is has united again for a day of action on 15 March 2010, World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). CI member organisations around the world have planned a variety of activities around this year's theme: 'Our money, our rights!'

Access to stable, secure and fair financial services is important for consumers everywhere. Yet as research undertaken by Consumers International (CI) in preparation for today has shown, consumers around the world remain poorly served by this under-performing sector. Download CI's briefings on Asia and Africa for a closer look at the state of financial services sector in these regions.

Consumer organisations perform vital work on financial services, whether protecting consumers from unfair contracts and abusive charges, or helping to secure basic access for the many who currently go without. To find out more read CI's Our money, our rights: how the global consumer movement is fighting for fair financial services.

News is streaming in from around the world about the exciting events and activities that have been taking place around WCRD 2010. Watch this space for more information on how CI members are highlighting 'Our money, our rights!'

Friday, 12 March 2010

Coalition calls for fair financial services for consumers in Europe

CI member organisations including Zveza Potrošnikov Slovenije (Slovenia), Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (Germany) and Test-Achats (Belgium) have partnered with the European Coalition for Responsible Credit (ECRC). This broad network of consumer groups and other civil society organisations is calling for fair financial services provision in Europe.

ECRC have developed and are promoting the following seven principles of Responsible Credit:

1. Responsible and affordable credit must be provided for all.

2. Credit relations have to be transparent and understandable.

3. Lending has at all times to be cautious, responsible and fair.

4. Adaptation should be preferred to credit cancellation and destruction.

5. Protective legislation has to be effective.

6. Over-indebtedness should be a public concern.

7. Borrowers must have adequate means to defend their rights and be free to voice their concerns.

To find out more about ECRC visit

Monday, 8 March 2010

Africa in the spotlight

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2010 is fast approaching! In the lead up to the day, Consumers International (CI) has produced Our money, our rights: The evolution of financial services in Africa.

Providing a fascinating insight into this sector in an African context, this briefing dispels myths, examines a number of interesting new developments and ponders the future of financial services provision to African consumers. Download the pdf to learn more.

CI member organisations across the continent work tirelessly in defence of consumers, whether in relation to financial services or countless other areas. Many are now busy preparing to highlight WCRD on or around 15 March 2010. Below are some inspiring examples of member action around this year's theme: Our money, our rights!

  • Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) is organising a multi-stakeholder symposium with representatives from industry and government, as well as a public procession through Harare and a competition featuring specially prepared WCRD t-shirts as prizes.
  • Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) is holding a seminar with students who will complete a survey on their understanding of financial services. TCAS is also preparing articles for national newspapers to highlight the day and are organising a street rally in Dar Es Salaam.
  • Insitute for Consumer Protection (ICP), Mauritius, is calling on the Minister of Finance to establish a Banking Ombudsman. The public will be rallied through a series of features and interviews on national radio networks, and leaflets will be distributed through regional consumer advice centres.
  • Zambian Consumer Association (ZACA) has set up a WCRD preparatory committee including representatives from government, industry and civil society. Activities are likely to include public marches, radio and TV programmes and producing WCRD-themed calendars.
  • Youth Education Network (YEN), Kenya, will pitch an 'educational tent', which will act as a forum in which consumers can interact with financial services providers. Farmers from rural areas will be targed in particular.
  • National Consumer Forum (NCF), South Africa, will be holding their annual two-day conference, which will be attended by CI staff based in the country.
  • Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Nigeria, is holding a WCRD 'consumer enlightenment' event from 15 to 21 March and are producing special brochures advising consumers on financial services.
  • Ethiopian Consumer Protection Association (ECOPA) are holding a panel discussion where they will present new research highlighting problems in the financial services sector. WCRD banners will be present on major streets in Addis Ababa, and the day will also be promoted on national radio.
  • Réseau Associatif des Consommateurs de l'Energie (RACE), Cameroon, will be launching 'Cameroon Consumer Week' from 9 to 12 March and will be meeting representatives from industry and the Ministry of Trade. On 15 March a press conference will be held around the theme of 'The True Face of Microfinance in Cameroon'.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

World Consumer Rights Day 2010 in Europe

The consumer movement across Europe will be mobilising on and around 15 March 2010 to highlight World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2010. Here is a selection of the various of activities that will be taking place across the region:
  • Association of Consumers in Serbia (APOS) is organising a media conference in Belgrade around the theme of financial services. The results of a mystery shopping investigation, undertaken with technical advice from Which? in the UK, will be presented. Representatives from government, the national bank, the EC and industry associations will be in attendance.
  • Romanian Association for Consumer Protection is organising a public event on 15 March to launch new tools for financial education, developed as part of an EC funded national programme on 'Financial Education and Family Budget'. Volunteers will also be distributed informational materials to consumers in shopping centres across Bucharest.
  • Consumidores en Acción (FACUA), Spain will be announcing the winners of the 'Worst Company of the Year' competition on WCRD 15 March 2010. Categories include worst company, worst business practice and worst advertisement in the last 12 months.

Financial services in Asia

World Consumer Rights Day WCRD (WCRD) 2010 is nearly upon us! Following the recent focus on Africa, Consumers International (CI) is now putting the spotlight on financial services in Asia in Our money, our rights: the evolution of financial services in Asia

Despite the many innovations in financial services to have emerged from this part of the world, many poor yet 'bankable' consumers in Asian countries still go without access. In the last of a series of examinations into financial services provision to consumers across the world, this briefing explores the issues, both current and future, around achieving universal access in Asia. Download the pdf for more.

Just like their counterparts around the world, CI member organisations across the Asia-Pacific region will be taking action to highlight WCRD 2010. Here is a selection of the activities being planned:

  • Consumer Federation Tamilnadu (CONFET) held a one-day event around the theme of 'Our money, our rights'. Various representatives of the Tamil Nadu State Government were were among the 500 participants. The event also included children from various schools, carrying placards displaying the WCRD slogan. A public rally also took place.
  • The Network for Consumer Protection in Pakistan is organising a seminar in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). An advisor to the Minister of Finance will speak about consumer protection. The network are also preparing an op-ed piece for the Daily Dawn media group.
  • Hong Kong Consumer Council (HKCC), China will be publishing a survey on banking services, with an emphasis on young consumers. Expert advice on personal financial management, also aimed at young people, will be published in the Council's CHOICE magazine. A press conference will also be held on 15 March 2010.
  • Consumers Association of India (CAI) will hold a public meeting around the theme of financial security for elderly consumers. They will be highlighting a recent commitment from the National Housing Bank, a subsidiary of the Government's Reserve Bank of India, to provide loans to retired servicemen of the Indian Defence Forces to help them purchase housing.
  • Macau Consumer Council (CCM), China, will be publishing the results of a comprehensive survey on fees and charges of retail banks in their monthly magazine. CCM will also release a 'checklist' on insurance for consumers.
  • Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CCM (see above). Under the MOU, both organisations will mutally recognise the accreditations they provide to businesses that operate in Singapore and Macau. The organisations will also cooperate on cross-border consumer dispute resolution and product testing. CASE are also organising a crossword puzzle competition to raise consumer awareness of consumer protection issues.
  • Consumer Council of Fiji (CCF) intends to bring together representatives from the banking industry, regulatory authorities, consumers and other stakeholders to discuss how to ensure fairer banking services for consumers in Fiji.

Nuestro dinero, nuestros derechos

The consumer movement across Latin America will be mobilising on and around 15 March 2010 to highlight World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2010. Here is a selection of the rich variety of activities that will be taking place across the region:
  • Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios de Chile (ODECU), Chile, will be surveying consumers on their experiences of using financial services, and undertaking financial education activities on and around 15 March in different regions of Chile. ODECU are also officially launching a new and improved version of, a website dedicated to providing debt counselling to consumers. They will also launch a new 'Financial Education Guide', produced as part of a project with other organisations in the region and ADICAE, a CI member organisation in Spain.
  • Comité de Defensa de los Derechos del Consumidor (AIS-CODEDCO), Bolivia, held a conference in February on the 'Situation of consumers of financial services and banks in Bolivia', in collaboration with the Vice-Ministry for Consumer Protection, Authority for Supervision of the Finance System, Community for Human Rights in Bolivia and the Ombudsman of Bolivia.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

CI's member in Isreal calls for an end to fees on current accounts

The Israel Consumer Council (ICC) is campaigning to advance legislation that will prevent banks from charging fees for basic services on current accounts.

A bill which was submitted to the Israeli Knesset signified the culmination of a public campaign which won widespread support - 700,000 letters were sent urging the Supervisor of Banks to adopt ICC's proposal.

For more see

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Conference on financial services highlights the plight of Bolivian consumers

CODEDCO, Bolivia recently held a conference entitled: ‘The situation of consumers and users of financial and banking services in Bolivia’. The event was attended by 150 participants, including experts from the Spanish consumer organisation ADICAE, as well as other representatives from civil society, government and industry.

Bolivia is the only country in the region that still lacks basic consumer protection legislation. In an economy with high rates of informal employment and unemployment, many have little choice but to get heavily into debt simply to make ends meet. An estimated 13,000 families are believed to be in a 'desperate' financial situation.

The conference debated the abusive terms in credit contracts that Bolivian consumers must routinely contend with, and raised the issue of bias shown by financial institutions against poor families.

CODEDCO has called on the relevant authorities to guarantee independent financial advice to consumers, and for consumer representation on tripartite dispute resolution panels in relation to debt. The organisation is also calling for the appointment of a financial ombudsman.

In a promising move, the financial regulatory authority has promised to put pressure on banks to cut down waiting times, in particular for the disabled and the elderly, to a maximum of 30 minutes.

For more on the work AIS-CODEDCO visit their website at

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Consumer perspective notably absent from financial reform in Tanzania

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) recently released a paper entitled: The Quality of Financial Services: a Critique From Consumers' Perspective.

According to Daimon Mwakyembe, TCAS chairman, financial institutions in Tanzania 'have continued to overcharge consumers in terms of fees, interest rates and commissions – while others reject low income consumers out of hand as "unbankable".'

TCAS also believe that recent reforms of the financial sector have not taken consumer protection into account.

For more see

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

French retail banking gets a thorough going over

CI member CLCV has just published their annual retail banking survey for 2010, putting an impressive 140 French banks under scrutiny. The study compares 57 types of financial product or service, covering over 15,000 different fees and charges.

A key finding is that in mainland France the same service can be up to 220% more expensive depending on the provider. 'Bundled' or 'packaged' products were also found to be more expensive for consumers than purchasing the same products and service individually on a 'pay as you go' basis. This despite banks promoting 'packages' as better value for money. For more see:

DECO finds personal loans have grown more expensive and confusing in past five years

The cost of personal loans in Portugal has risen dramatically since 2004, with fees increasing by over 70% in some cases. This is according to a recent study by DECO Proteste.

Consumers also face a confusing myriad of different
'entrance', 'opening', 'administration' and 'application' fees.

DECO believe that all banks in Portugal should use standard terminology to avoid consumers being 'deceived by jargon'.

'Even with lower interest rates, opening fees are more expensive. The Bank of Portugal and the Department of Consumer Affairs should impose a single opening fee with the same terminology across all banks.'

For more see

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

FOMCA, Malaysia: consumer complaints against financial institutions up 30% in one year

The National Consumer Complaints Centre, operated by FOMCA, received 1,354 such complaints from Malaysian consumers in 2008, compared to 1,004 in 2007. In many cases excessive overdraft charges and other penalties from banks were forcing consumers into ever-spiralling levels of debt:

Banking goes bananas

Choice, Australia have produced a great parody of a controversial video released by Westpac Bank, which used the rising price of banana smoothies after a tropical storm as an analogy to explain why they put up their interest rates.

Search YouTube for the original Westpac video

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Spanish bank charges depositors in Peru by the banknote

In November 2009, ASPEC Peru denounced Spanish bank BBVA for imposing fees on cash deposits of more than 30 banknotes without informing their clients:

Consumer Council of Fiji: insurance law must be reformed

'Third Party Laws Must Change!' claims the Consumer Council, which says that weaknesses in current legislation are being exploited by insurance companies to the detriment of accident victims. Find out more:

Thursday, 14 January 2010

British government must bank opportunity to help poorest consumers

Consumer Focus are calling on the authorities to introduce a bank account product tailored to the millions of consumers in the UK who do not have access to even the most basic banking services. See below for more:


Hello, and welcome to CI's WCRD 2010 blog.

We will be posting interesting updates and news about the work of CI member organisations on financial services.

The idea is to faclitate the sharing of useful and relevant information between CI members across the world around the WCRD 2010 theme of 'Our money, our rights'.

Please do also remember to contact CI at and tell us what you are planning for 15 March.

Happy reading!