NESIBE HICRET – New law ‘a disappointment,’ says consumer aocate

New law ‘a disappointment,’ says consumer aocateConsumers Association (TuDER) Honorary President Engin BaIaran has said the new Consumer Law, which comes into effect on Wednesday, has created disappointment among consumers as it brings only tiny modifications to the previous law while adding even more ambiguous statements. In a phone interview with Today’s Zaman, BaIaran said that with some changes included in the new law on fees for banking transactions and credit cards, consumers will also lose the rights won through previous court decisions.

The new law will enable Turkey’s banking watchdog, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), to determine which services banks can charge customers for, an attempt to reduce customer complaints about the high fees and commissions banks charge for various services.“The BDDK is authorized to decide which banking proceedings will be charged, so many court decisions in favor of consumers in that regard will be nullified.

Moreover, although the BDDK will abolish some fees, probably the most frequently imposed fees will continue,” said BaIaran. In a press conference on Tuesday Customs and Trade Minister Hayati YazIcI said the changes the new consumer law promises to introduce will widen and strengthen the protection of consumer rights.

YazIcI stressed that the new law ensures that consumers will be clearly informed about credit card and contract of sale terms before they sign them and that sellers will not be able to change the conditions for the duration of the contract. The trade minister added that other terms and requirements will be submitted to consumers in an additional contract, and therefore the consumer will be fully aware of the payments to be made.

Another critical point in the new law for banks is the obligation to provide at least one credit card that is free of fees or charges. YazIcI said banks or other financial institutions that have permission to issue credit cards or similar payment instruments can still continue to charge a fee on other credit card products, but they have to offer a free option for consumers.

The law also prohibits companies, including financial institutions, from charging consumers compound interest. However, BaIaran expressed the criticism that these free cards will not include most of the aantages that other cards have, such as gift certificates, cashback or installments, and thus many people will continue to pay credit card fees.

Consumers’ right to withdraw in door-to-door purchases, distance sales and timeshare vacation contracts is being extended from seven to 14 days, said the minister, adding that a two-week right to withdrawal is also being extended to prepaid house sales, consumer loans and distance contracts for financial services. The oft-cited complaint that banks force customers to buy an insurance policy with a mortgage loan is also addressed by the new law.

The lender will also have to accept any insurance policy that customers take out from their preferred insurance company. Banks are prohibited from charging account maintenance fees for accounts opened for the repayment of mortgage loans.

These accounts will be closed automatically when the loan payments end, unless customers want to hold on to them BaIaran, on the other hand, stressed that the new consumer law still lacks mechanisms to strengthen consumer associations and consumer unions in Turkey. “Consumer rights are perceived as a luxury.

Consumer unions are underrepresented in public institutions, and they are attempting to function with serious financial problems,” she said.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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