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FTC warns bank that new customer provisions are unenforceable

Not under the Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) watch!

That stern warning has been sent to FirstCaribbean International Bank by the FTC’s Director of Consumer Protection Judy Maynard in response to the financial institution’s controversial move to make unilateral changes to its agreement with customers.

Maynard told Barbados TODAY in a candid interview this morning that the proposed changes were unfair under the law and therefore unenforceable.

She said correspondence to that effect had already been sent to the bank, which is a subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

FTC’s director of consumer protection Judy Maynard.

FTC’s director of consumer protection Judy Maynard.

“A letter was hand delivered to FirstCaribbean on Friday, November 14, informing them that this matter is of utmost [importance]. Consumer protection is paramount to consumers and because it is [also] paramount to the commission we have to ensure that the rights granted to consumers under the Consumer Protection Act are not eroded,” she said, adding that after evaluating the terms, the FTC had informed FirstCaribbean to “address this matter”.

“This is a matter that we are looking into and we are going to continue to be vigilant with respect to this and any other person that brings terms and conditions or anything of this nature that can affect consumer welfare.”

In notices sent to some of its customers last week, FirstCaribbean set a December 31 deadline for its clients to agree to changes that would give the bank unilateral control over all applicable interest rates, fees, charges and overdraft limits; allow the bank to share and process information on customer accounts outside of Barbados in its consolidated centres or with its third party processors; and prevent customers from holding the bank “by reason of any act, delay or omission of such CIBC FirstCaribbean Group member or any third party service provider in the performance of the services required of it”.

The bank, which operates in 17 Caribbean territories, said the changes would take effect on January 1, 2015 and customers’ failure to consent could lead to immediate termination of their FirstCaribbean banking services.

In a second statement on Friday, the bank stressed that all customers who opened accounts after 2007 had already agreed to the controversial terms.

However, Maynard insisted that “FirstCaribbean can do nothing with it”, adding that any terms that were deemed unfair under the law had “no teeth and no bite”.

“It cannot already apply to customers because if you look at it, they speak about it beginning in January 2015. If the terms are unfair under the law they are unenforceable in a court of law, and FirstCaribbean has been told that any term that has been deemed unfair under the Consumer Protection Act is unenforceable in a court of law,” Maynard said.

“The consumers need not fear their rights are not being protected.”

When contacted, representatives from the Central Bank of Barbados, the regulatory body for the financial system, opted not to comment on the matter.

BTwin a honda

17 Responses to Unfair!

  1. EN John
    EN John November 18, 2014 at 12:54 am

    We the account holder have to power, remember we can close our accounts with FCIB.

    • Richelle Bourne
      Richelle Bourne November 18, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      At lease someone is thinking here.. No accounts no FCIB

  2. Mark Gill
    Mark Gill November 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

    guys this easy just move your money else where , no customers no business

  3. Mark Gill
    Mark Gill November 18, 2014 at 1:01 am

    the power is in your hands not the bank , they depend on you

  4. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes November 18, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Just ask asking a question cuz I does see this as a pull and push thing no seeing that banks pulling out from the region and them decide to do the same how many ppl are unemployed??

  5. Alex Alleyne November 18, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Over and over again companies/persons come to Barbados and “wipe-the-floor” with us . We are seen as a set of laid back people that sit and take everything and then say ” The Lord is watching” . In the mean time BAJANS are being taken to the cleaners. I wonder who’s next that is willing to sock it to us .

  6. Cathy Lashley
    Cathy Lashley November 18, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Consumers need all the help they can get from these organisations.

  7. Alex Alleyne November 18, 2014 at 7:40 am


  8. Princess Tiny Neferua
    Princess Tiny Neferua November 18, 2014 at 7:49 am

    FTC you do what you have to do… coppers done move to a credit union…….#BEGONEFIRSTCARIBBEAN

  9. Tony Waterman November 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

    @Bobby Gilkes !!!!! I see that SOME Bajans have not changed their way of thinking, so CIBC First Caribbean can farm out your personal information to every/Anyone and when you get up one day and all your Money is gone, they can tell you SORRY NOT OUR FAULT go talk to “”Jack/Joan”” whom you have never had any conversation with. and all you can worry about is people unemployed?? Well they are going to be anyway, just like we were put out to Pasture by the British 48 years ago this 30/11/2014. Oh Yes they had no further use for US, and when they have no further use for you they will put you out to pasture.

    Bobby!!!!! if Barbados Take THEIR Money to the nearest Friendly CREDIT UNION all those JOBS will NOT be LOST, as they wolud be needed to service all those new accounts. your Money is as safwe in a Credit Union as with CIBC FirstCaribbean.

  10. George Smith
    George Smith November 18, 2014 at 9:26 am

    It’s the people living abroad that have the biggest problem, getting back home with such limited time whilst living and working abroad is costly.

  11. Heather Cole
    Heather Cole November 18, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Strange that the Central Bank is not making a comment. It appears that its role has changed.

  12. Renaldo Niles November 18, 2014 at 10:20 am

    All account holders should close those accounts, the credit unions seems to be more safe institution, and it’s local

  13. Greitcha Smith
    Greitcha Smith November 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Well done, I think. Will the FTC be also penning a letter to C&W re their proposed purchase of FLOW?

  14. a November 18, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Mr . Niles that will be the correct thing to do but Unfortunately we BAJANS do not do things in “MASS NUMBERS” . It was said that Bajans have SIX BILLION DOLLARS in savings just sitting there for the BANKS to play with .

  15. Baz Moz
    Baz Moz November 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Pity they Wasn’t watching as closely when the Government doubled the vehicle Licence, and introduced the Solid Waste Tax, oh I forgot them a government agency, so much for lead by example

  16. G. Small November 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Baz Mos, don’t be so silly. By signing the agreement, you will have no recourse if your funds mysteriously disappear from your account at First Caribbean as a result of a mistake made by a third party working on behalf of the bank. Is that what you really want?


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