The ANZ Bank in Australia will refund nearly $5 million to 25,000 low-income customers for its fault in overcharging them. The bungling happened from the bank’s incorrect late payment and an over-limit fees assessment systems. The error sustained for almost seven years.
According to the corporate watchdog, Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the bank admitted its failure in rightly calculating the fee reductions and waivers of its Access Basic account holders and would refund the affected customers, reports Sky News.
As a result, ANZ ended up overcharging customers holding consumer credit cards and ANZ Everyday Visa Debit cards.
The bank blamed the breakdowns to the bad interface between automated and manual processes and said the manual processes had been unreliable.
The Access Basic account of ANZ caters to low-income customers including pensioners who are given a Centrelink Health Care card.
Most low-income consumers faced over-limit fees, late-payment fees on credit cards and overdrawn fees on the Everyday Debit cards.
“ANZ’s Access Basic account is designed for low-income consumers who are unable to pay high fees,” ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell said.
He said the matter highlighted the importance of managing manual processes correctly and designing robust systems to support such features.
The gesture of refund comes at a time ANZ is facing a class action suit over the late fees on credit cards and the matter is awaiting the verdict of the High Court.
ANZ’s Access Basic account also offers Seniors Concession card, Pensioner Concession card, and a Repatriation Health card.
The bank promised ASIC that it would refund the overcharged amount with additional interest. As a corrective measure, ANZ introduced a permanent automated waiver system to eliminate manual intervention forever.
ANZ has started contacting affected customers and explained them the error. The refund will be completed by the end of April, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused and assure our customers we have fixed the processing error that caused the issue,” an ANZ spokesman said.