If you have received COT bank charges against any transactions carried out after 1st of January 2016, you might be entitled to a refund. A Central Bank of Nigeria directive published on March 27th, 2013 outlawed the questionable practice of COT charging come 2016, but somehow, banks have been silent on the matter since the beginning of the deadline year. A few days ago, the House of Representatives picked up on this, asking the Central Bank of Nigeria to make banks refund all unlawful COT charges levied to their customers. If this goes through, it means that customers will be able to get a refund on all COT charges made against transactions carried out this year, all charges above ₦1 per mille in 2015, all charges above ₦2 per mille in 2014 and all charges above ₦3 per mille in 2013.
If you’re unsure of what COT means, COT is an abbreviation for “Commission On Turnover”, also known as a fancy name for charging customers to use their own bank accounts. Basically, you incur this charge whenever money is paid out of your account to a person or an organisation. And it doesn’t usually matter whether the transaction is done in person at the branch, via a mobile app or over the internet where there are no physical bank staff carrying out the transaction. It’s free money for the bank.
While the exact amount charged as COT differs from bank to bank, the CBN placed a limit in 2013 on how much banks could legally charge for this: ₦3 per Mille (per ₦1,000) in 2013, reduced to ₦2 in 2014 and down to ₦1 per Mille in 2015. Banks are not permitted to charge COT from 2016, so you are within your rights to challenge this charge if it appears on your bank statement.
The CBN has effective guidelines put in place for customers to complain about ungodly charges, and you will find a step by step guide here on how to make a complaint and request a full refund. It means that you will have to do some work on your part – requesting a your backdated bank statements and adding up the total unauthorised charges, but a lot of people report success with the process. One person was queried by their bank after the charges were refunded and asked why they reported to the CBN in the first place, as it was a “small issue” which could have been solved in-house.
All the best, and feel free to let me know how it goes in the comments section.