Customer could not opt out of scheme

Categories:
Kiwisaver
Summary:
Jamie went to his bank to open an account. While there, a bank officer discussed the bank’s KiwiSaver scheme with Jamie, telling him it would be in his interests to join. Jamie said he was not interested in joining KiwiSaver. After the opening the account, the bank officer continued to suggest Jamie join the scheme, and before leaving Jamie completed and signed a KiwiSaver enrolment form.

Jamie complained to the bank that he had been given inadequate information about the scheme and had been pressured into joining. According to Jamie, the bank officer told him only about the scheme's benefits. He also said he was made to feel embarrassed and inadequate for not wanting to join. At no point did the bank officer tell him that once enrolled he would not be able to opt out. Nor was he given the option of going away to think about joining. Jamie said he agreed to sign the enrolment form simply so he could leave the bank.

Jamie later contacted the bank to complain and asked it to cancel his KiwiSaver membership. The bank acknowledged the service he received from the bank officer could have been better, but it said it could not release him from the scheme. As a gesture of goodwill, the bank offered him $250, the equivalent of his first year’s contributions to the scheme. It also offered to pay him a further $300 for inconvenience.  Jamie declined the bank’s offer and asked us to investigate.

Our investigation

KiwiSaver legislation stipulates that having opted in, members cannot opt out. Regardless of whether Jamie was pressured into joining, he was a member and could not opt out. We had no power to recommend cancellation of his membership, but we could consider the impact that membership would have on Jamie.

The requirement to make contributions could cause significant disruption to his financial plans, but he would ultimately receive the benefit of those contributions. He would also have a limited ability to access those contributions, although members can apply for an unlimited number of contributions holidays, each of up to five years, after their first year in the scheme.

Outcome

We concluded that the bank’s offer was reasonable. Jamie accepted the offer.

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