Disabled, older bank users allege neglect

 

Bank customers who have been told not to use cheques any more are being encouraged to show their banks a copy of the industry’s guidelines about meeting the needs of older and disabled customers.

Cheque users were being "jerked around", Visual Impairment Charitable Trust Aotearoa trustee Dr Lynley Hood said.

Banks were neglecting customers, she said.

New Zealand banks have been phasing out cheques and encouraging people to use electronic services instead.

Dr Hood pointed out more than a third of New Zealanders aged over 75 had no internet access and more than half of Grey Power members had trouble with phone banking.

Banks that no longer accept cheques should pay more attention to New Zealand Bankers’ Association...
Banks that no longer accept cheques should pay more attention to New Zealand Bankers’ Association guidelines about meeting the needs of older and disabled customers, concerned citizens at the Dunedin Railway Station say. Reminding banks of their responsibilities are (back, from left) Josephine Dodd, Jenny Longstaff, John Dean; (front, from left) Lynley Hood, Chris Ford, Lorraine Isaacs and Anne Marie Parsons. Photo: Gregor Richardson

Concerned citizens met at the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday where they drew attention to industry guidelines.

Under the New Zealand Bankers’ Association code of practice, banks agree to do their best to meet the needs of all customers.

"We recognise that disabled and older customers should be able to access information, products, and services in a way that’s fair, reasonable and easy, and encourages their independence and control," the guidelines state.

The association’s members include Westpac, BNZ, ASB, ANZ, Kiwibank, TSB, The Co-operative Bank and Rabobank.

New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont said retail bank members all followed the guidelines.

Less than 1% of payments were made by cheque and options for former cheque users included direct debit, automatic payments and phoning a bank branch, he said.

"We understand that the phasing out of cheques is causing concern to some people, especially those who cannot, or prefer not to, do their banking online or through a mobile phone banking app," he said.

"Most banks have a priority phone service for older customers."

The visual impairment group is sponsoring a second event tomorrow - a forum on the fourth floor of the Dunedin City Library, in the Dunningham Suite, from 1.30pm.

A panel of speakers will tackle the question: can we trust our banks?

Mr Beaumont said the banking association could not attend.

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

Comments

'New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont said retail bank members all followed the guidelines.' Personal and anecdotal evidence would not agree with his statement. The least he could do is attend the meeting tomorrow to hear concerns.

How do they determine that a customer is deserving of older persons priority on the phone, when it can take over half an hour to get through the queue in the first place! Also, not everyone can make themselves understood by phone (I know I no longer can), and email to the banks is far from secure for most tasks.

 

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