The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday said the deposit agreements at eight out of 10 banks it surveyed were unfair to depositors because they set overly high minimum deposits for accrued interest.
The foundation said it conducted a survey of the application documents for opening deposit accounts at 10 banks last month, and discovered that eight of the deposit agreements contained several rules that are unfavorable to depositors and beneficial to the banks.
The foundation’s report revealed that these eight banks required depositors to have at least NT$10,000 (US$333) in their savings accounts to receive interest, while one bank required NT$5,000. Five banks also stipulated that interest would be given based on units of NT$100.
The two rules are unfair to depositors, the foundation said, adding that although the loss to individual depositors is small, the total benefits for banks is huge.
For example, if a depositor has only NT$9,999 in their savings account, they would not get any interest on their deposit if the minimum amount to collect interest is set at NT$10,000, the foundation said. In addition, if a customer has NT$10,099 in the savings account, they would not be receiving interest from the additional NT$99 because the interest is calculated in units of NT$100.
Foundation chairwoman Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said banks should set a lower level for minimum deposits.
In addition, the foundation said seven of the banks surveyed would render savings accounts inactive if the amount deposited falls below the minimum requirement, while three banks would also not inform depositors if they did so.
The foundation also found six banks to have rules that are unfavorable to depositors on accounting errors. In the case of a dispute between a customer and the bank, two banks require that depositors provide evidence of the bank’s mistake or else the bank will be regarded as faultless, while four banks require that depositors address an objection within seven to 14 days or else the bank will admit no error.
Such unfair agreements should be invalid, because according to the Consumer Protection Act (消費者保護法), banks have an obligation to prove their service has been error free instead of asking depositors to give proof of a mistake, Su said, adding that giving a limited window for depositors to raise an objection is too harsh.
The foundation urged the Financial Supervisory Commission’s Banking Bureau to strengthen rules to protect consumers, and urged banks to modify their application agreements.