Dear Editor,
I WAS heartened by media reports, just over a week ago, that the Governor of the Central Bank contemplated penalties against Republic Bank if it did not make speedy amends to its prolonged, unacceptable service to customers.

The fundamental of banking is depositing and lending. Depositors are encouraged to place their funds into banks as savings, invariably bearing minimal returns as taxable interest; the banks in turn reinvest those deposited funds through loans, mortgages and other lines of credit at a spread of comparatively increased interest rates. Interest earned on lending facilities are generally the sources of income that fund banking operations. Banks also increase their revenue earnings through various charges, exogenous services and fees.
In Guyana, Republic Bank is guilty of double charging its customers. Customers are charged $200 on salary deposits, plus ATM charges of $70 and over-the-counter transaction charges of $300, respectively, for withdrawals below $100,000. If, for example, someone’s salary is below $100,000 (which is the case for most Public Servants), additional charges of $300 per teller withdrawal are attracted to the already imposed $200 monthly salary deposit. If you decide to withdraw a S70, 000 salary in four parts, additional combined charges of at least $1400 will be incurred. Most, if not all, government employees have to comply with local AML guidelines that salaries be routed through the national banking system. Employees are therefore being held to ransom and are being fleeced mercilessly by Republic Bank’s double-charging system. In a recent discussion with some individuals within the financial sector, I was informed that most banks adopt similar practices. If that is indeed the case, the regulatory body should intervene to protect the citizenry from this well-organised pernicious imposition.

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Republic Bank also offers its customers an ATM card with a limited lifespan. Upon expiry, that card now attracts a fee of $1000 for its renewal/ reissuance. This is not the same as a replacement fee for a card that has been lost or damaged by the customers’ own negligence. It is an imposed fee for an otherwise basic service. This is the same ATM card that customers are encouraged to use to access ABMs as a cost-saving alternative to in-house OTC – teller consuming transactions which attracts the $300 withdrawal fee for amounts below $100,000. In other words, a customer is trapped by charges either way to gain access to his/ her own hard-earned funds.

I have suffered financially at the hands of Republic Bank. In July of this year while conducting official business in Tobago, the sister island of Trinidad, I was unable to access available funds from my local account despite prior formal notification to the Guyana branch. The inconvenience was apparently occasioned by internal factors. Even after the most diligent and persistent efforts of some local staff contacts and an affiliate Senior Manager of their Auchenskeoch branch in Tobago for me to access funds from my account, I could not get a single dollar and was left completely stranded. As a result, I suffered financial embarrassment and unavoidable expenses, having to obtain money through individual borrowing. Upon my return to Guyana, I was denied compensation by the bank although providing comprehensive documented and corroborative evidence of the occurrence. In short, the bank took a most unconscionable position by positing that I should have sought other alternatives to reaching them; just another kerfuffle!
Republic Bank owes more than a passive apology to its customers and the people of Guyana for the recent spate of its unsatisfactory service and resulting inconvenience. The complexity of doing business, time consuming, lengthy, and slow-moving queues at branches nationwide have been unbearable for years. Suggestion boxes are mere placebos for affected or disgruntled customers.

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Thank God the government held firm to its disapproval of Republic Bank acquiring Scotiabank Guyana – for they would have monopolised us to debt or ultimate death.
It would be interesting to see what form Republic Bank’s promised nationwide compensation would take if it sincerely wishes to avert losing customers and/or legal action as a consequence of its unmitigated recalcitrance.

Sincerely,
ORETTE CUTTING

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ges are pernicious

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