The right to choose is one of the eight basic consumer rights. A consumer should be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality. For a consumer, this gives them the freedom to choose the best deal and hold providers to account. For the wider economy, the right to choose is fundamental to the creation of a genuinely competitive market that drives innovation and rewards firms, which deliver good-value products and customer service and punishes firms which do not. Consumers should not be forced to tolerate excessive charges, poor service or irresponsible corporate behaviour because of a lack of choice. But this basic consumer right is being undermined in financial services, one of the most important sectors
for consumers and the economy. Even when they are fed up with their bank or another financial service provider, many consumers feel that it is too difficult or not worth switching. As a result, there is often little incentive for banks and other financial service providers to improve their service or cut costs.
Government intervention in the financial sector may be necessary and legitimate in the short-term during a crisis, but in the longer term effective competition in the sector has to be restored. In many countries, the state has announced its intention to dispose of its stakes in wholly-nationalised or part-nationalised banks. In Europe, the European Commission has required banks, which received state aid to make divestments, including requiring them to sell off assets, in some cases including branches serving retail consumers.
Looking to the importance of this issue, this year’s theme for World Consumer Rights Day has again been earmarked to ‘Consumer Protection in Financial Services’ with a slogan ‘Our Money-Our Rights’ and to commemorate the occasion, CUTS-CART organized a half-day event on Friday, 16th March 2012 at Jaipur Palace Hotel, Jaipur.
Officials from office of Banking Ombudsman, Jaipur, senior managers from Jaipur based banks like State Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, South Indian Bank, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur and Cooperative Bank, reps from CSOs and NGOs, media and district partners took part in the event