The telecommunication and banking sectors top consumer complaints lodged to the Competition and Fair Trade Commission (CFTC) in the 2020/21 financial year, the commission has said.
In an update on the performance of the commission in the 2019/20 financial year, CFTC said it resolved 146 consumer complaints, recovering over K5.11 million in refunds to consumers and penalties in the process.
CFTC said the telecommunications and the banking sectors registered the highest number of complaints.
In an interview on Monday, CFTC public relations officer Innocent Helema said the complaints largely centred on situations where traders acted unreasonably.
He said: “We had cases, for instance, where some banks overcharged consumers and some telecoms companies denied refunding their customers money where there were some miscalculations.
“For instance, during the financial year, one of the commercial banks was ordered to pay about K1.4 million, which was transferred from their bank account due to the weak and unreliable mobile banking application with interest that would have been earned on the amount had it been in the bank.”
Helema said the complaints in the second-hand clothing (Kaunjika) sector were also prominent in the year.
He said the cases handled included 11 out of 13 planned restrictive business practice cases, 76 unfair trading cases in second-hand clothes market, 10 out of 12 cases on sale of substandard products and 21 out of 23 cases on unconscionable conduct in telecommunication and banking industries.
Commenting on the issue, Bankers Association of Malawi chief executive officer Lyness Nkungula acknowledged that the banking sector faces some challenges, but added they are are continuously working towards addressing each of the concerns.
“We would not want the trust that is there between banks and the customers to erode because of some minor challenges,” she said.
On his part, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito in an interview said proper monitoring and inspection systems is key to ensuring that everyone is accountable for their actions on the market.
He urged CFTC to ensure a level playing field for all businesses.
CFTC says it will continue to validate the complaints, investigate and engage the concerned parties until such issues are resolved.