Tuesday, July 5

Catalonia fines 14 banks with almost one million euros for abuses in ‘revolving’ cards

The Catalan Consumer Agency has sanctioned fourteen financial entities with 977,813 euros for having acted abusively in the marketing of ‘revolving’ cards. As a result of an inspection campaign carried out in 2021, the Generalitat confirms that “absolutely none” of the entities analyzed “reliably complies” with the rights of consumers in the clauses of the contracts or in the application of interest rates.

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Consumption has fined six entities for applying an APR above the state average of 20%. One of them applied 29.73%. In addition to the penalties for malpractice in ‘revolving’ cards, Consumer Affairs has fined nine entities 147,187 euros for non-compliance with consumer regulations in establishments open to the public.

The Generalitat has detailed this Friday that the inspection focused on fourteen financial entities that have a customer service network in Catalonia, from where they sell credit cards with installment payments. The entities are ABANCA, Banco Sabadell, BBVA, Banco Santander, Bankinter, CaixaBank, Cofidis, Deutsche Bank, ING Direct, Ibercaja, Kutxabank, Oney, Unicaja Banco and Wizink.

The Catalan Consumer Agency has concluded that they all acted abusively when marketing these cards. For having offered contracts with abusive clauses, the proposed global fine for the fourteen companies is 350,000 euros. Six of them have been found to apply interests that exceed the average and have been sanctioned with 627,000 euros in total.

In addition to the sanctions strictly linked to ‘revolving’ cards, nine entities have been detected that failed to comply with the applicable consumer regulations in customer service offices. For these violations, several files of minor sanctions have been opened that add up to about 148,000 euros.

“We have found absolutely no one who reliably complies with the rights of consumers in Catalonia”, lamented the director of the Catalan Consumer Agency, Francesc Sutrias. The director stressed that the purpose of the campaign is “to correct behavior and raise awareness among consumers so that they are alert” to a type of card “which is a high-risk product that encourages compulsive buying.”

The Secretary for Business and Competitiveness, Albert Castellanos, has asserted that “a highly worrying situation” has been detected, and has warned that there is a “broad and serious problem that requires much more decisive action”. Castellanos has advanced that there will be new inspections with which the practices of more financial entities will be analyzed, while the Generalitat will deploy information campaigns to reinforce the “empowerment” of consumers.

Regarding the sanction procedure, those responsible for Consumption have specified that financial entities can present allegations to the Generalitat against the fine proposals. If these were dismissed, the companies could present a formal appeal and would also have the possibility of doing so through the courts. “We are attentive to see what each one of them responds to,” said Sutrias.


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