On Saturday September 26, 2015, St Thomas resident Tonia Deane stopped at the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) at FirstCaribbean International Bank in Warrens, St Michael for what she thought was a simple transaction.
What happened next was an exercise in frustration and deflected responsibility by two financial institutions, as Deane came to realize she could not bank on their support.
Deane told Barbados TODAY that she withdrew $600 from her Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) account at the CIBC FirstCaribbean ATM and while she received the correct amount from the machine, a check of the receipt revealed that twice as much had been deducted from the account. In addition, she said, ATM fees were debited twice.
She said that after she was advised of the procedure to have the funds returned to her account, she filled out a dispute form from her bank three days later and sent it in.
Almost two months later, the issue had not been settled and she was being bounced from bank to bank as the two financial institutions sought to pass the responsibility on to each other.
“I thought it would have been a smooth process, but I had not heard back from either bank for a few days. I went to FirstCaribbean and spoke to someone there that I know and the person told me ‘that is an issue for your bank because the money came from your bank account’,” said Deane, who stated that she kept in contact with an RBC official who told her they “had to wait on FirstCaribbean”.
Deane said she became frustrated after she went back to the FirstCaribbean and she was told, “the issue is one for your bank” because the money came from her RBC account.
“So now I have reached the point of total frustration . . . This is the point where I am at and I have decided now is the time to take my story to every media house in Barbados and anybody else who is willing to listen and publish it because I think it is nonsense and unfair,” said the mother of one.
Deane added that she returned to FirstCaribbean last week Wednesday and Thursday before she was assured that the funds “should be refunded” to her account “within 24 to 48 hours”.
Yet by Monday there was nothing but another excuse by RBC which informed her it had not received the “authorization to indicate the credit” to her account.
“So I decided I am going to call CARIFS [the ATM network provider], and . . . I spoke to someone who asked me for certain information that would give them access to see exactly what was going on regarding the issue.
“When the person got back to me they told me that from what they saw FirstCaribbean had not responded,” said Deane.”
Senior manager of corporate communications at RBC Nicole Duke-Westfield told Barbados TODAY this afternoon she was “aware of the client’s situation” and the bank had been in contact with her.
“We are also in contact with the other bank that is involved in the matter, with the intention of bringing this matter to a close as quickly as possible,” said Duke-Westfield.
“It is important for us to be able to connect with the other party, which is the other bank, and make sure we have all the information before we can make a determination. We wouldn’t want to go back to the client and we don’t have all the information.”
Meanwhile CIBC FirstCaribbean said it regretted that “the customer has been kept waiting for the return of her funds”, adding that there was a process “which all banks” go through in such instances.
“And in this particular case the resolution of the matter took longer than we would hope. Such occurrences do not happen often, but when they do, understandably they are upsetting to the affected customer,” CIBC FirstCaribbean acknowledged in a response emailed to Barbados TODAY.
The bank also gave the assurance that “the matter has now been rectified and the funds returned to her financial institution”, and promised to conduct a review “of how this particular instance unfolded” with a view to preventing a repeat.
Deane told Barbados TODAY late tonight that the money had finally been returned to her account.