Banks accused of 'tricking' customers with ads

14th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 September 2005, BRUSSELS – Three of Belgium's leading banks stand accused of tricking customers through misleading advertising.

14 September 2005

BRUSSELS – Three of Belgium's leading banks stand accused of tricking customers through misleading advertising.

The consumer watchdog Test-Achats also blamed the commission for banking, finance and insurance for doing nothing to force the banks to clean up their acts.

In Le Soir on Wednesday, Test-Achats described a number of ads by KBC-CBC, Fortis and Dexia as "an insult to reality".

One advert by Fortis used the slogan "twice 5 percent, definitely, for a trouble-free summer" to describe an eight-and-a-half year investment account with an annual return of 0.8 percent, at a probability which experts calculated at eight out of 10.

CBC's Click Europe Best of 1 campaign promised "a minimum guaranteed return of 18 percent". Test-Achats said the text didn't say that the 18 percent return was at the end of 10 years, meaning the annual return was 1.4 percent.

Nor was Test-Achats happy about KBC's Safety Booster 1 adverts which pledged that "security and high return are compatible". "To sell security and return, certainly uncertain for an investment in dollars, is anything but a reflection of the reality," stressed Test-Achats. "However, that's what CBC and KBC are doing."

The tip of the iceberg for the consumer group, though, was Dexia with the slogan "9 percent gross after three months, it is possible; and in all security". The deal in fact offered an investment more suitable for long-term investors, which had high chances (a six out of 10 probability) of giving an annual return of just 0.6 percent over 12 years.

Test-Achats called on the banking commission to "intervene and reinforce the controls".

The commission, though, said it didn't consider the banks had done anything wrong. "Advertising remains advertising," said spokesman Luk Van Eylen.

KBC's spokesperson Viviane Huybrecht defended the bank's advert as "a serious advert in which we give a maximum of information and in which all the risks are clearly presented".

Fortis also insisted its advertising was "totally transparent". "All the details are found in the advert," said a spokesperson. "By its very form, an advert remains an advert which has a goal of seducing the consumer."

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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