Man takes on bank and wins

2016-10-26 12:12
David Herbert relaxes at home after taking on FNB and winning.

David Herbert relaxes at home after taking on FNB and winning. (Ian Carbutt)

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A Pietermaritzburg man has helped score a victory for consumers.

The pensioner took issue with FNB, which tried to force customers to use its mobile banking app or face forfeiting eBucks earnings in its popular rewards programme in future.

Dr David Herbert said he had raised his complaint with the bank after he received an SMS advising him that as a Premium client he had to download and sign into the FNB Banking App at least once a month in order to qualify for and earn eBucks.

But the bank has now back-pedalled and limited the new rule to its Premium clients who are under the age of 60.

The deadline for downloading and using the app in order to continue earning ebucks has also been extended to January 31, 2017.

Herbert said he was concerned about threats of cyber crime and the high costs of mobile data and did not want to be forced into using the mobile banking app.

“I already do all my banking online but I do not want to expose myself to any additional potential risks of doing so via my smartphone, a device that has the capacity to communicate with cyberspace 24/7. This stipulation is not something that I consider either beneficial to me or necessary,” he said.

“I am perfectly capable of using the FNB app, I just don’t want to do so for security reasons and because it necessitates using data on my phone — and we all know how expensive that is in SA,” Herbert said.

However, Herbert said he raised the matter with FNB and received an annoying e-mail on September 19 advising that he could still earn eBucks without using the app but at a flat and much lower rate.

Herbert said the bank had advised him that the rule was “to bring about the strategic behavioural change desired by the bank” and that it had “always been FNB’s strategy to personalise our offerings rather than taking a one size fits all approach”.

Herbert said: “Well pardon me, but this seems very much a one size fits all approach, you will bank the way we want you to bank. So much for their slogan FNB — how can we help you?”

But Herbert’s complaint had in fact not fallen on deaf ears — although it is not clear how many other customers might have lodged similar complaints.

He received another personalised e-mail from the bank advising that his feedback had been taken into consideration and that the rule had been scrapped for clients over the age of 60. But they would need to transact at least once a month on any of FNB’s other electronic banking channels such as online or cellphone banking.

“Perhaps a minor victory for me, but still something of a condescending gesture for those they consider beyond digital redemption,” Herbert said.

FNB Premium CEO Raj Makanjee said the rule was part of the changes the bank had implemented regarding the way eBucks would be awarded from July 1.

“FNB has taken note of the customer feedback on the need to make use of the FNB Banking App in order to earn eBucks and as a result, we will be waiving the rule for all Premium clients (Private Wealth, Private Clients and Premier) over the age of 60 years,” Makanjee said.

Makanjee said there were more than two million active devices registered using the app, which was the most downloaded banking app in the country. About 60% of FNB App users are millennials in the 16 to 36 age bracket.

“FNB Easy and Gold accounts customers are placed on a rewards level based on the number of different FNB products they hold. For these customers, app usage is not a qualifying criteria to earn eBucks. However, it is one of the product categories,” he said.

He added that the bulk of FNB Premium clients, including seniors, were already using the FNB Banking App.

Easy and Gold customers do not have to use the app in order to qualify for eBucks.

“Easy and Gold customers will automatically be moved up an eBucks level if they perform financial transactions on the FNB Banking App,” he said.

SA National Consumer Union chairperson Ina Wilken said it was not fair to force consumers to use the mobile banking app in order to get a higher return on the use of their credit card to earn eBucks points.

“The CPA very clearly indicates that we have a right to choose — in this case we cannot choose, it is forced on us. So, either you make use of the app and earn more or carry on as usual and earn less. From the bank’s perspective they can say we have a choice,” she said.

However, she said consumers should also be prepared to engage with new technologies that had benefits and conveniences.

“Banks are customer driven and customer orientated and should they not give consideration to consumers’ complaints they could come off second best. We live in volatile times and businesses know very well that the rights of consumers should be respected, but consumers should also know they have responsibilities.

“It is very good customer care and service that the bank acknowledged the consumer’s concern and to accommodate the over 60s. A feather in their cap,” she said.

The FNB Banking App was the first smartphone and tablet banking app to be launched in the country in 2011.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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