The Association of Financial Users (Asufin) has demanded from the Government that the financial client defense authority has the capacity to demand the return of charges that it considers undue, both from users who have sued and those who have not. It has also requested that, just as sanctions for bad faith are indicated for clients in the bill, the same should be done with banks. In this way, it highlights the importance of more forceful and dissuasive measures. The Council of Ministers began the procedures to create the new body on April 5, after years of waiting, and these Asufin proposals have been submitted during the five weeks of public consultation.
Patricia Suárez, president of Asufin, explains to EL PAÍS that she lacks mechanisms to solve the underlying problem. This, she says, is not the high number of cases prosecuted: “That is the consequence that there are things to claim and that the bank delays everything.” To avoid the jam, she maintains that sanctions are key due to their deterrent effect. “The refund must be claimed in the case in question, as well as in the rest of the clients in the same situation, even if they have not sued, as is done in the United Kingdom.” In the response made by the association in the public consultation, it is added: “[El régimen sancionador] we consider it absolutely inefficient insofar as it does not provide for the obligation to repair all those affected without the need to claim extrajudicially or judicially.”
This new customer defense authority will unify the claims services that exist at the Bank of Spain, the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the General Directorate of Insurance and Pension Funds (DGSFP). It will serve banking users, as well as in cases related to investment and insurance companies. Its main objective is to relieve the courts of the numerous cases it accumulates and it will intervene when there are claims from customers who have not been satisfied with the response of the entities’ customer service services. It will be free for users and its resolutions will be binding for the financial institution when the amounts claimed are less than 20,000 euros. The body, in addition, will be financed through a rate of 250 euros that the banks will have to pay for each admitted claim.
Regarding the sanctions, the draft divides them between serious (fines of up to 5% of the group’s income) and minor (up to 1% of the annual net turnover). “Asufin values positively that binding resolutions have been established, as well as a claim fee that entities must pay. The association would support even more forceful measures such as those contained in the Insurance Contract Law (LCS) to encourage companies to resolve claims in their customer service services”, collects the document from the Association of Financial Users.
According to the preliminary draft, the serious infractions are the following: “failure to comply with the obligations of sending to the Independent Administrative Authority for the Defense of the Client the allegations and precise documentation through electronic means in the manner provided”, “failure to comply with the obligations related to the proof of compliance with the obligations established in the rules of conduct and good practices and preservation of pre-contractual and contractual documentation” and “failure to comply with the resolutions of the Independent Administrative Authority for the Defense of Financial Clients”. While the minor ones will be the same “when the breaches cannot be considered as especially relevant due to the number of affected parties, the repetition of the conduct or the effects on customer confidence and the stability of the financial system,” the text states.
On the fines for bad faith to clients, Asufin emphasizes that the same should be done with the entities. “This absence of sanctions for entities that repeatedly engage in malpractice is even more striking if one takes into account that the project does provide for a fine for bad faith for the consumer”, collects the text presented by the Association of Financial Users. Among the proposals made by the association is also the need to unify criteria and for the body to be proactive. “For cases in which the courts decide in one direction, the new defense authority should notify the banks so that they apply it from that moment on or, otherwise, be sanctioned,” says the president of the association.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
The financial client defense authority will, in principle, complete its creation process in the second half of the year. On the composition of the advisory committee, Suárez highlights the lack of balance. “Academicians and a more balanced representation between consumers, industry, autonomous communities and experts should be incorporated,” settles the collective’s response to the public consultation.