Company Swipes Customer’s Card: Bank Says Fuck Off!

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–      Company Swipes Customer’s Card Without Reminder

That morning, I woke up to carry out the brief for which I have been paid for. Then I saw the dreaded receipt alert – a huge sum of dollars has been removed from my naira account by a company I made a one-year premium subscription to. I screamed ‘Nooooooo!’ falling-off from my bed and breaking my arm.

The pain of the fall, I didn’t feel. I was more concerned with the monstrous alert. I checked into my dashboard and saw that the company has automatically renewed me for an annual recurrent subscription. ‘What da f…! It was only for a year dammit!’

I went back to the screenshot of terms and conditions of the company (you know how long those terms are so that we never get to read them?) and saw that annual subscription implies recurrent yearly bills subject to the subscriber’s consent.

–      Bank Says Fuck Off!

I quickly sent an email copying my account officer to block my book balance from final debit as the party had withdrawn my funds without consent and the bank has failed to confirm such transaction through my token code before making payment.

I was told, that is the case for online card transactions, and they couldn’t do anything about it.

Seriously? Was it not an online card transaction I did initially when my token code was requested for confirmation? How do you set a standard for a process and then chose when to apply it and when not to apply it in the same process?

My people, I was finally given the silence of ‘fuck off!’ When I persisted, I was given a form that will take 45days without assurance to resolve. I made some enquiries with other banks and found that the same lacuna exists in their system.

I wrote to the company requesting to refund my sum and terminate any premium as the intent was a one-off payment. I now await the outcome, and hopefully, I will have to settle matters with my Bank in court.

Two questions erupt – a. does an annual subscription mean a subscription in perpetuity? b. should a third party be allowed to withdraw a customer’s fund from his bank without some sort of confirmation from the bank?

–      Without Reminder: the question brands and courts must consider.

Tech lovers and e-contract advocates may be too quick to say, ‘clicking the annual subscription box means you have given consent!’ but eh, what consent? A customer wishes to subscribe for an advertised premium. The options show annual silver, gold, etc. But the options never say, ‘one-time-only or forever’, rather, it states ‘you can always end your subscription’.

A year is a long time for customers to forget, and don’t even say ‘log it into your google calendar’, because even that is not soundproof. A reminder is inevitable to show good faith in business. This is an ethical thing to do. Renewal contracts always have some sort of reminders or written confirmation before renewals accrue. This is the custom of commercial trades. Terms and conditions ignoring reminders may be flawed in a court of law or not. But the brand image of a company may be questioned if it transacts that way. 

For instance, Netflix, LinkedIn, et al, are companies that remind subscribers before any renewal charges. Companies like Uber and Bolt need not to since a customer wishing to take a taxi is automatically reminded that the fee will have to be paid for via his/her card. Companies like Academia, et al, must go back to the drawing board. No one likes to be taken by surprise over their money.

With regards to the Bank, confirmation of such foreign and online transaction is not only an ethical duty, it is and ought to be a legal duty. A customer who uses token for the transaction does so, for maximum protection and parenting of his/her account. How can an initial transfer request token code and a subsequent one from a third party fail to request a token code? Is the bank part of the contract between its customer and a third party? Is the bank position, in that regard, not simply an agent or trustee for its’ customer?

The lack of confirmation from the Bank simply implies one thing – even when a customer unsubscribes from a third-party service, the third-party having the card details may still withdraw money from the customer’s account without the bank seeking confirmation.

What do you think? Reply below.

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Written by Emmanuel Okonkwo
Emmanuel Okonkwo is a professional content/creative writer; a critic and a lawyer. He is the founder of De Critic. He is a published writer internationally and locally. He holds Bachelor Degrees in Law and Philosophy; Diploma Degree Music, Content Writing & Marketing; and a Masters Degree in Law. He has written for some of the world best marketing agencies, influencers, blogs and magazines. He is crazy, rational, fun and balanced.