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