23rd November, 2010
A non government organisation, Consumer Advocacy Forum of Nigerian (CAFON) hasÂ threatened to drag Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) to court if the bank does not changeÂ the unfairÂ liability clause on its Automated Teller Machine (ATM) form.
In a letter signed by the NGOâ€™s coordinator, Ms Shola Salako and addressed to theÂ customer care department of the bank, CAFON is asking Guaranty Trust Bank to expungeÂ the clause on its ATM form which absolves it of any form of liability in the eventÂ of an unauthorised access to its customer account.
A copy of the letter was also forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The letter titled: Objection To A Liability Clause In Your ATM Release Form, whichÂ was made available to Consumers’ Advocate reads:
â€œIt has come to our notice that Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has included a clause inÂ its ATM/PIN release form which absolves the bank from any liability arising fromÂ unauthorised access to a consumerâ€™s account.â€
â€œWhile we note the need for some responsibility on the consumers’ part, the clauseÂ in question is highly biased, grossly unfair and a violation of the consumerâ€™s rightÂ to reasonable protection in the sales contractâ€
â€œThe said clause transfers the onus of responsibility solely to the consumer in theÂ event of unauthorised access to his/her account without taking into considerationÂ the possibility that the compromise could have come from the bankâ€™s structuresâ€
â€œWith this clause, the balance in the contractual relationship between the bank andÂ its consumer is unfairly tilted in the bankâ€™s favourâ€
â€œNothing in the said declaration which the consumer is mandated to sign protects theÂ consumer from any breach of contract which may arise from the bankâ€™s systemÂ negligence,â€ CAFON added.
Advising that the bank should immediately review the clause to include protectionÂ for customers when unauthorized access is due to comprise on the part of the bank,Â CAFON said: â€œWe recommend that the clause should read thus: “I undertake absoluteÂ responsibility for safeguarding my card and PIN and relieve the bank from anyÂ liability arising from unauthorised access to my account that is proven to be fromÂ my negligence.â€
The NGO said it believes this will correct the obvious imbalance in liability andÂ ensure all parties have a sense of responsibility in the ATM sales contract.
In view of the potential hazard the form in its current state constitutes to theÂ consumer, the CAFON demandedÂ that the clause be withdrawn and corrected withinÂ 7days from, November 19, 2010 failure for which it willÂ seek legal intervention toÂ compel GTB to comply with its responsibility to its consumers.