CONFERINTA CSALB

Double benefits obtained from consumer-bank negotiations in 4 years

In 2023, ABDRC was approached by the highest number of consumers over the last 7 years, and banks accepted 15% more applications for negotiation than in 2022. The total benefits obtained by consumers from negotiations conducted via ABDRC in years 2016-2023 amounted to more than EUR 11.3 million. The record figure of the negotiation benefits was reported last year (EUR 3.3 million), i.e. more than 60% higher than in 2022. On average, a consumer obtained benefits of EUR 5,000 from a negotiation conducted last year. In fact, benefits of up to EUR 5,000 were reported for half of the agreements brokered by ABDRC. These amounts stand for reductions in the lending cost by: free reduction or removal; lower interest rate; lower instalments; and even writing off the entire debt.

In 2023, ABDRC received 2,932 applications from consumers who asked their banks (1,885 applications) and NBFIs (1,047 applications) to enter negotiation within the Centre. Since 2016, ABDRC has received approximately 15,000 applications for negotiation with credit institutions.

In 2023, the banks accepted 100 more applications from consumers than in 2022. Thus, 754 negotiation cases were formed with banks and only 4 with NBFIs. 

In only 8 of 100 negotiations, the parties did not accept the solutions proposed to them by conciliators, and failed to come to terms. Thus, the ABDRC conciliators were reported with the highest ever conciliation efficiency since the establishment of ABDRC (92%).

Another 555 settlements between consumers and banks/NBFIs were reached amicably, as the parties managed to reach an agreement directly, after consumers had filed their applications with ABDRC. Most of these concerned simple matters, which could be addressed without the input of a Centre’s conciliator, or involved terms beyond negotiation (such as the applications for deregistration from the Credit Register).

The average bank negotiation time was 24 days last year. While the law (Government Ordinance no. 38/2015) sets out a maximum 90-days term for finding a solution through conciliation, or a linger term for more complicated negotiations), this alternative to court proceedings has become even faster in recent years.

The fastest agreements were reached in only one single (14 cases) or two days (37 cases), in 2023. But there were also 31 negotiations that proved much more difficult, and required more 100 days to complete. The champions of the fastest conciliation negotiations are: Roxana Mustătea (an average of 12 days), Nela Petrișor (an average of 14 days), and Septimiu Stoica and Ionuț Ștefan (an average of 15 days).

The conciliators with the highest number of negotiations handled in 2023 are Alexandru Ambrozie (60 conciliation files), Mihaela Budișteanu (59 files), and Valentin Cocean (59 files).

The total benefits obtained by consumers from negotiations conducted via ABDRC in years 2016-2023 amounted to more than EUR 11.3 million.  The record figure of the negotiation benefits was reported last year (EUR 3.3 million), i.e. more than 60% higher than in 2022.

On average, a consumer obtained benefits of EUR 5,000 from a negotiation conducted last year. In fact, benefits of up to EUR 5,000 were reported for half of the agreements brokered by ABDRC. These amounts stand for reductions in the lending cost by: free reduction or removal; lower interest rate; lower instalments; and even writing off the entire debt (in difficult cases).

More than 500 lawsuits brought up before the Romanian courts have been settled amicably over the last three years, via ABDRC. Banks and judges proposed conciliation-based alternative resolution to consumers as early as the very first hearing.

Thus, consumers:

  • saw their problems addressed in shorter time periods (from a couple of years before a court, down to an 30-day average via ABDRC, in recent years);
  • benefited of the free-of-charge nature of conciliation for individuals, to the detriment of the costs of a legal proceeding.

Alexandru Păunescu, representative of the National Bank of Romania in the ABDRC’s Steering Board: “We are in our 8th year of conciliating the relationship between consumers and banks/NBFIs, and the year-on-year business growth is proof of both the continuous improvement of the conciliation mechanism steered by the ABDRC conciliations, and the increasing willingness of banks to address the problems experienced by consumers. Moreover, the increase in the number of lawsuits the parties of which strive for an amicable settlement validates the very reason of ABDRC establishment: to provide consumers and the financial and banking institutions an alternative to court.

Romanians embrace more than more this quick and cost-free solution for them. There are many cases where people managed to have their problem with the bank solved in just one or two days. Basically, after having spent a few minutes filling out the application on the ABDRC website, the consumer received a response from the bank on the very same day. This was followed by the opening of a conciliation file, in which the conciliator proposed a solution forthwith. This was accepted by both parties, and the case was closed a few hours later, after exchanges of emails and phone talks. This openness and availability shown by some commercial banks helps build the confidence in the entire banking system.

Unfortunately, there are still banks which reject part of the applications they receive from their own customers via ABDRC. Under such circumstances, we reiterate our recommendation also for 2024, that is for these credit institutions to avoid such cases ending up before the courts of law, and to try to have any problem addressed directly with the consumer. Where an application cannot be resolved through direct negotiation between the parties, it is advisable to further involve the ABDRC conciliators and thus avoid the classical court-based dispute settlement. Thus, the parties to a dispute can save both time and money, whereas the public courts are freed of long and difficult lawsuits where, in the end of the day, only one of the two prevails, not both of them, as in conciliation.”

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About ABDRC: ABDRC is an entity set up under a European Directive, and intermediates, free of charge and in not more than three months, negotiations between consumers and banks or NBFIs, for contracts/agreements in progress. Consumers from any county of the country may file applications with the Alternative Banking Dispute Resolution Centre (ABDRC) filling-in an online form directly on the website www.csalb.ro. Once the bank accepts to enter the conciliation/negotiation procedure, a conciliator is appointed. ABDRC works with 17 conciliators, of the best specialists in law and with relevant experience also in the financial and banking field. Everything is settled amicably, and the understanding between the parties has the power of court judgment. More information about the work of the Centre is available by phone at 021 9414 (charged a normal toll), or via the csalb.ro chat, where a call-centre operator answers.

 

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