Consumers Council of Canada has joined with CARP and FAIR Canada to call on the Government of Canada to protect banking consumers by appointing a single, not-for-profit organization to act as the ombudservice for the retail banking sector across the country.
The three groups have launched a letter writing campaign to parliamentarians to call on them to act and protect consumers. Consumers can visit http://carp.ca/oneombuds and make their voices heard. Pour participer en français, allez à: http://carp.ca/unombuds
Under the current system in Canada, banks are free to pick their own referee to make sure consumers' problems are resolved in their favour. Banks get the freedom to select their external complaints body to resolve consumer complaints they can't resolve on their own. This forces external dispute resolution firms to compete for banks' business and puts pressure on them to rule in the banks' favour, so they will continue to get their business.
Consumers have no say in which provider is used to solve their problem and are forced into a situation where they must take their issue to a private, for-profit resolution provider selected by their bank.
"An ill-conceived policy is eroding the modest existing accountability to consumers for how well dispute resolution in banking functions in the country," said Don Mercer, President of the Consumers Council of Canada. "Given the recent revelations about banking sector sales practices, this state of affairs has become increasingly outrageous."
"The system as it currently stands is deeply unfair because it protects powerful banks over consumer interests," said Wanda Morris, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, CARP. "This effort is to put consumers, especially the vulnerable and older people, on an equal footing with the banks. Each dispute needs to be resolved fairly by a single, non-profit external body that is accountable, independent, transparent, fair, and accessible."
"We call on the Government of Canada, as part of its comprehensive review of the consumer protection framework for banking consumers, to designate the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) as the single ombudsman for banking complaints", said Marian Passmore, Director of Policy & COO of FAIR Canada.
While the Government of Canada is aware of this broken system, it will need to hear from concerned Canadians to move this up its priority list. It's up to consumers to make their voices heard and to make sure average people have access to justice.
It's time to stop protecting powerful banks and put justice for Canadian consumers first.