Tuesday, 19 March 2013

All you can do is ask... Financial Institutions and Consumer Power

Financial literacy often talks about how financial products work and maybe consumer rights but there is one thing often not talked about....Their power as consumers.  Many young people (and adults) feel intimidated by financial institutions and don't think about this.

Let me give you two examples:

  • I accidentally went over my credit card limit and was charged a fee.  I thought if I went over, my card would be declined but found out with this specific card the issuer thinks all purchases are considered important by customers so let them go through but with a fee.  One phone call to the customer service explaining the situation and how I've been a good customer convinced them to waive the fee.
  • The daughter of a friend of ours was using her bank card and made quite a few transactions after she had a zero balance.  The result was some overdraft charges.  She didn't know for her account, if you have a transaction with a zero balance, there is a charge for every transaction.  A visit to the  branch manager with her parents and a discussion was all it took to get the fees removed (and she learned what overdraft meant).
The lesson here is "all you can do is ask" and the worst that can happen is a financial institution can say no to your request for waived fees or a better deal.  It only costs you a phone call, visit or email so well worth the time.  

James Whelan,