Westpac refunding $7 million to around 93,000 customers

Westpac NZ has apologised and is refunding $7 million to approximately 93,000 customers after it was found that account fees were incorrectly charged.  

You could be owed money if you used one of the bank's following account types: Tertiary Pac, Career Starter Pac, Graduate Pac, International Student Pac, Relationship Rewards Scheme, Family Benefits and Westpac Staff Package, Bizpac, Government Packages or Portfolio Package.

Westpac reported the issue to the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and Commerce Commission in December 2017, and identified more impacted customers in the following 12 months.

Formal agreement has now been reached with the regulators on reimbursement, with the bank agreeing to refund all fees and charges incorrectly applied and committing to taking all reasonable steps to reach impacted customers.

In each case where errors were found, Westpac says it independently identified the error, contacted the regulator, and initiated a process to inform and compensate customers.   

 NZ Acting General Manager of Consumer Banking and Wealth, Gina Dellabarca, said the issue was identified as part of a proactive review of products and services initiated by Westpac.

"We apologise to all the customers affected, most of whom we have already refunded," she said.

"In most instances, the individual amounts are small and are the result of errors in manual processes. We want to assure our customers that we have now changed our systems so that the issue does not occur again."

The FMA and Commerce Commission have each released statements about Westpac's error.

"The enforceable undertaking illustrates that regulatory requirements are working, as Westpac recognised its possible breaches and approached us and the Commerce Commission. This is the kind of proactive behaviour we expect to see from market participants," said Liam Mason, FMA Director of Regulation.

 Anna Rawlings, Commerce Commission Chair, added: "The Commission also encourages the identification and self-reporting of conduct like this and appropriate remediation for affected customers. We emphasise the importance of robust systems and sound monitoring practices to help avoid errors, and to quickly identify and fix them if they occur."

Dellabarca said Westpac was contacting customers about reimbursement, in line with procedures agreed with the regulators.