Every four months, the Consumer Council publishes the "fairness index" report (developed by the Council), and, this time, in a sector providing service to many consumers and having a large impact on the consumer and its economic situation - the banking sector.
The research for examination of perceived level of fairness in the banking sector was conducted through a telephone survey among a national sample representing 700 men and women aged 18+ having a bank account. The survey asked consumers a variety of fundamental questions about the specific bank in which they conduct their main account.
According to the results, Bank Leumi is perceived by its clients as the least honest of the banks under examination, regarding the parameter of commission rate and interest rates. The clients perceived Bank Hapoalim and Bank Discount as the least honest of all the banks under examination regarding the parameter of long lines to the cash register in the branch.
About 40% feel that they cannot compare between banks due to lack of uniformity and clarity in providing information and therefore, they cannot get all the information enabling them to clearly compare between the banks.
3 out of 4 have not compared commissions and interest rates between banks over the past year.
About 14% of the customers are considering moving to another bank in the coming year and about 5% have already done that in the past year.
The level of awareness to the "commission's basket", initiated by the Banks Supervisor, which offers the bank customers to pay a fixed amount for current account management, is very low. Only 1 out of 3 bank customers have heard about the commission's basket and usually, they have not been informed by the bank itself but through other sources.
As part of the banking index, 14 events representing various dimensions of dishonesty have been examined:
1. Raising prices of bank services without notice
2. Charging high fees for current account
3. Charging high interest rates on credit services, namely high interest rates on overdrafts and loans
4. Charging high fees on securities portfolio management
5. Failure to provide clear information about bank fees allowing for comparison with other banks
6. Long waiting times for telephonic answer by the branch teller
7. Giving long contracts without sufficient time for review and signature
8. Banks do not initiate direct contact to offer more comfortable price quote
9. Failure to fulfill the promises done when opening the account
10. The bank does not compromise with a more comfortable quote when you ask for it
11. Long waiting times for service at the teller stand
12. Banks do not advertise direct phone number of the branch teller
13. ATM out of order or cash out very often
14. Clients have to bargain in order to get services at a lower cost and with lower commission rates
Israel Consumer Council CEO, Adv. Ehud Peleg, says that perception of poor level of fairness in Israeli commercial life is reflected again in the banking sector: "The banking industry relies on trust between the customer and the bank may be more than in other sectors. Fairness must be present based on these relationships. According to our fairness index, it appears that the banks have yet a lot to improve in this area".