FirstCaribbean International Bank fees up. Service? Well that’s something else…

The Increase in Bank fees. Is this reflective of the Customer experience?

by Alison Weekes,

Fifs, MSc, Int.Dip.Comp
Banking & Compliance Professional UK

I note with interest the various comments in relation to the announcement of the increase in bank fees by FirstCaribbean International Bank. We will in the coming months, see whether the strategic plans and income structure of the other competing financial services firms in Barbados will dictate that they too will have to increase their fees.

One wonders where`s the customer’s place in all of this.

A fundamental in the business of banking is the nature of the banker-customer relationship. Traditionally, it was believed that ‘the customer is king’, where has this value now gone? It can be asked whether the Financial Services Institutions that are increasing their fees have actually considered the experience their customers have when transacting business with them and whether this is commensurate with the hike in fees.

Effective handling of customer complaints is fundamental to a firm’s ability to provide a satisfactory service and ensuring the ultimate customer experience.

In continuance with their treating customer fairly focus and to ensure clean and orderly markets, the UK Financial Services Authority published its review of the handling of customer complaints in banks in summer 2010. The FSA heightened the regulatory requirement for banks to place increased focus on the quality of service to the customer to ensure that they are treated fairly. Who ensures the customer is treated fairly by Banks in Barbados?

An approach to justify the increased fees would be to introduce a mechanism or benchmarks to ensure that the banks are made accountable for the quality of service they provide. Senior management are committed to increasing rates, where necessary, to satisfy their income structures which is understandable. However, to maintain transparency and confidence in the banking sector, they should also be required to evidence how engaged they are in the delivery of improvements  of service and real value for money to customers. This is probably a focus that the regulators in Barbados could consider if they want to maintain confidence in this segment of the market.  The time old retort moral suasion does not redound to the customers who are saddled with high fees.

Alison Weekes, Fifs, MSc, Int.Dip.Comp
Banking & Compliance Professional UK


Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues

24 responses to “FirstCaribbean International Bank fees up. Service? Well that’s something else…

  1. Yeah, similar thing here in the USA but more so because of all the “losses” from the change in credit card rates or the banks not being able to change them as they like, they have increased rates on customer’s checking accounts for example to $3 a month when it was free before and for businesses it is now around $16 if the balance is below $2K US. I won’t mention the bank, not sure if I should, but these financial firms will always win. They produce nothing but yet take so much from people who are out there physically producing goods and trying to make ends meet. But any system around for centuries will be difficult to change perhaps.

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    While looking through one of the local newspapers on Wednesday 18th February 2009, I happened to notice my name in a First Caribbean Int. Bank advertisment listing ‘Unclaimed Balances’.
    This despite recieving absolutely NO written notification from the bank and being in almost daily contact with the branch for more than a decade.
    Since then I have written numerous times to various officials in the bank including the Managing Director, Kevin Farmer.
    I still have not had the funds returned and the bank repeatedly blames the Central Bank of Barbados for the near TWO YEAR delay.
    When just about every expert believes that it will be SMALL businesses that lead economic recovery and soak up unemployed persons, what does First Caribbean do?
    Raise its charges, in most cases way above the rate of inflation during the worst recession for eighty years.
    Does this sound like a responsible institition?

  3. FCIBanker

    The MD’s name is Daniel Farmer, not Kevin Farmer. He may be a bit busy to reply – he’s been fooling around with one of his employees. Probably a good example of why the Board should have selected a more seasoned banker as opposed to an immature little boy for this job.

  4. Peltdownman

    We recently received a payment by draft from a customer in the Caribbean. The draft was a First Caribbean draft, and we are customers of First Caribbean. Now a bank draft is issued only when the bank receives the money, so when the draft arrived in our hands, our own bank was in possession of the funds. When we deposited the draft, we were advised that we could not use the funds for 30 working days, as it was a “cheque” drawn overseas. This kind of nonsense is what irks me about banks in general and First Caribbean in particular. But bankers have nothing if not thick skin – they simply shrug and move on to the bonuses.

  5. PrettyPolly

    Due to the ridiculous, unreasonable and greedy behaviour of the banking fraternity I have moved my account to a new institution called ‘under the mattress’. The benefits of this facility is;
    1) I no longer have to queue for up to 40 minutes to access my money.
    2) Nobody can charge me for wanting access to my money.
    3) The opening hours are amazingly flexible.
    4) No more service fees for ‘piss poor’ service.

    From now on I will take my chances with thieves breaking into my house rather than leave my money in the hands of the banking bandits.

  6. Responder

    Customer service is ridiculous.

  7. Worst Caribbean

    No-one calls it First Caribbean any more
    – it’s Worst Caribbean. Get with the times!

  8. Politically Tired

    Terrible Bank, friend of mine had an appointment with the Small Business Manager regarding expanding her business, that was in mid August ’10, she was promised all sorts of help, still hasn’t heard from him.!

  9. maat

    It was said somewhere a while back that the 1st Caribbean connection to CIBC
    was the most profitable arm of that companies offshoots.
    A genuine run on the banks normally pulls them back a peg or 2. Just keep enough in them to pay your debts and cover your credit cards.
    The rates of interest on savings should be a lot closer to the interest on loans. There must be something in the drinking water that has us foolish enough to pay someone the amount we do to use our money!
    But when you think of it, the highly educated and developed British still are brainwashed enough to take taxpayers money to keep a “Royal family” as their lords and masters.


  10. Sunny Gal

    It has been published that FirstCaribbean adjusted its fees to be in line with the other local banks. It should be noted they have a larger branch network than the other banks. Perhaps the author based in the UK would note that no Canandian Banks or Caribbean banks (other than Stanford, who was really not Caribbean) found themselves in a bind in the international financial meltdown. Caribbean banks and the regional regulators have served the region well in this regard, the people of this region do not have to worry about their life savings.

  11. PrettyPolly

    Sunny Gal …One Word…CLICO

  12. Island Paradise

    @Sunny Gal….The International banks in Barbados and the region have served the Caribbean very well in that they were not severely affected by the International banking/financial crisis. The regulators in Barbados must also acknowledged for their outstanding oversight of the banking sector. However, is there not room for improvement such as challenge in relation to the quality and value of the service that they provide to their customers?

  13. Scotia Customer

    I bank with Scotia. No bank charges. At all.

  14. Back to basics

    All the banks have varying issues of customer service, but my observation over the past 5 years is that First Caribbean is the worst of the lot. This is based on personal experience as well as regular interaction with people who do business with this bank. One of FCIB’s main problem is that a lot of the decision-making that ought to be done at branch level is centralised; however the centralised decision-makers are often very tardy or are difficult to reach at times. By now having these ridiculous fees they show they do not care much about their customers.

  15. yatinkiteasy

    It is almost an insult that First Caribbean Bank is now offering a “Switch” plan, whereby people with Mortgages and Loans at other Banks can come in and …lo and behold,,,get a lower rate than existing FCIB Clients! In my case, I have been a customer for over 20 years, have had two mortgages , savings and checking account, visa card, etc…and yet someone transferring a loan from another Bank can get a better rate of interest on his mortgage than I enjoy. What utter crap and disrespect for your customers!.
    I look forward to the day that I can pay off their mortgage and never walk into their bank again.

  16. Worst Caribbean

    Keep tellin ya… Worst Caribbean Bank.

    Call it what it is!

  17. PrettyPolly

    There is something about First Caribbean which inspires genuine anger…My sister, a relatively mild mannered woman, HAD 2 business accounts and a personal account with First Caribbean. She was in good standing with the bank, had regular transactions thru all her accounts & was under the impression that she had a good rappore with the bank….A couple of months ago she incorporated a new company & went to First Caribbean to open the requisite business account. She was astounded to learn that despite her dealings with the bank for over 10 years, BEFORE she could open this new account she was required to submit a business plan to the bank!!! …Bless her, she had one of her moments right there and then & told them exactly what they could do with this whole set of foolishness….She left the Wildey branch, walked across the plaza and straight into Scotiabank ., 2 days later she had an appointment with an accounts Manager & opened a hassle free business account. Subsequently she has moved all her bank accounts from First Caribbean to Scotia Bank…..It would appear that it is First Caribbean Bank that truly needs a fresh business plan.

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    Oh! the power of the blogs.
    First Caribbean just called me to say I can collect the confiscated funds.
    Mr Daniel Farmer must have read BFP.

    Thank You.

  19. Gonzie

    tried to reach commercial banking manager today; not available out of office will respond in 24 hours – refered to an assistant; assistant voicemail- on holiday; refered to receptionist – unavailable please leave a name and number and will get back to you. called 3 other officers -got voice mail responses -leave a name and number and will get back to you. needed information urgently – call main branch and finally got onto a live person after being passed onto 2 more persons half an hour later. would you believe this is on a multimillion dollar account?
    feet will have to do the talking.
    have been a Barclays/FCIB customer for over 20 years – must bea glutton for punishment.

  20. FCIB Fan

    The Director for retail banking at FCIB resides in ST Kitts. Barbados is just one of the territories she is in charge of. She visits here for a few days every month.
    No wonder service sucks, things fall through the cracks, you can`t speak to anyone…follow up is a joke.
    Here is your Director for Barbados…note the address.
    Dawne E Williams
    Retail/Wealth/Small Business Banking Director
    Barbados Operating Company
    P O Box 42
    St. Kitts

  21. JUMP SHIP if you have any sense!

    Dear Pretty Polly,

    Please communicate to your sister my great pleasure at the outcome of her actions.
    Sis did the right thing. Well done!
    She voted with her feet AND with her wallet!

    Any chance I get, I persuaded people to BAIL OUT from Worst Caribbean
    and take their business elsewhere -ANYwhere else is better than Worst Caribbean.

    It was a crappy Bank when it was Barclays: then it morphed into the poorly-trained-and-motivated Creole Cuzzin (Worst Caribbean)
    -now it truly sux! LOL

    Long may it suffer as it goes downhill, with customers jumping ship daily!

  22. BAFBFP

    “Senior management are committed to increasing rates, where necessary, to satisfy their income structures WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE. ”

    If that is not the most stupid appreciation ever drafted …

  23. Dennis

    Have you heard the latest news?

  24. child of the king

    CIBC First Caribbean Bank has the worst reputation for failing and in many cases undermining small and medium sized businesses in Barbados. They have no respect for their long term customers and by extension our Island and our economy. I think it is high time for some of us business people to get together, share our cases, and do what is necessary to highlight and action the unfair practices of ‘worst caribbean.’ So many people cant be wrong.
    They need to be good corporate citizens, and along with their bottom line, need to show an interest in the development of our country as apposed to being the source of so many horror stories.