The complainant queried the time taken by the bank to respond to and action her request for an international transfer. The complainant stated that it took the bank from 21 February 2020 to 3 March 2020 to effect the requested transfer. As a result of the delay, the complainant suffered a loss of R162 025.29 due to exchange rate fluctuations.
The bank submitted that their service level agreement requires a customer’s request to be acknowledged within 24 hours. The bank advised that the consultant should have acknowledged the request and communicated the process to the customer within 24 hours.
The bank further submitted that the service level agreement for overseas transfers provides a turnaround time of a minimum of three working days to a maximum of five working days.
The customer provided the requested documents on 27 February 2020. The consultant was on leave and she had noted a stand-in on her email out-of-office notification.
The bank concluded that if the complainant had forwarded her completed documents to the consultant’s stand-in on 27 February 2020, the complainant could have personally avoided a further loss in the exchange rate.
The customer requested the international transfer on 21 February 2020 (Friday) at 14h22. This request should have been acknowledged within 24 hours, being 24 February 2020 (Monday) at 14h22.
The consultant only acknowledged the request four days later, on 27 February 2020 (Thursday) and in addition to acknowledging the request, attached the required documents for completion by the customer, in order to action the request. The consultant then went on leave. The complainant emailed the consultant the completed documents on the night of 27 February 2020. At this stage the consultant was already out of office.
We drew the bank’s attention to the initial delay in acknowledging the request, which in our view was the essence of our argument. The request for the transfer was made by the complainant on 21 February 2020 (Friday) - according to the SLA, this request should have been acknowledged by 24 February 2020 (Monday). We were therefore of the view that had the bank abided by its own process, the bank would have been provided with the completed documents to proceed with the transfer on the evening of 24 February 2020 (Monday), and would have noted receipt of same on the morning of 25 February 2020 (Tuesday), prior to the consultant going on leave.
Furthermore, we noted that once the consultant returned from leave she would have been able to process the request and confirm the rate on the very next day.
Therefore we held that had the consultant acted timeously herein and in accordance with the SLA, she would have noted receipt of the documents on 25 February 2020 and the request would have been processed and the rate confirmed on 26 February 2020 (Wednesday).
It was evident in this instance that the transfer could have been finalised within 3 days. The only reason that the process took longer was due to delays on the part of the bank and it is unfair to prejudice the customer for the bank’s failure to follow its own SLA. It was on this basis that we recommended that the customer be given the benefit of the exchange rate on 26 February 2021. The bank accepted our recommendation and an amount of R162 025.29 was refunded to the customer.
Principle: If a bank fails to adhere to its own internal process which consequently causes the customer to suffer a loss, the bank would need to take accountability for that loss and place the customer in the position he/she would have been in, had the bank followed the correct internal process.