ASIC is increasing its monitoring of advertising of banking products.
ASIC has released details of its concerns with Westpac Banking Corporation's advertising for the Westpac Choice account and the steps Westpac is taking to address ASIC’s concerns.
The Westpac Choice account was advertised as being free of monthly account keeping fees for customers depositing at least $2,000 per month.
ASIC was concerned the advertisements created the impression the initiative to remove monthly service fees applied automatically to existing account holders, when that was not the case.
ASIC was also concerned the advertisements presented the removal of monthly fees as a ‘commitment to lowering the cost of banking’ and as a key feature of the Choice account. In fact, at the time the advertisements were published, Westpac had not committed to retain the initiative beyond the initial promotional period, except for new account holders who applied during the promotional period.
In response Westpac is taking a number of steps to ensure that its existing customers have not been misled, including writing to all of them.
From 1 June 2009 in relation to the Westpac Choice account:
- all customers (existing and new) will be able to avoid monthly fees by depositing $2,000 per month; and
- the method of avoiding monthly service fees by maintaining a minimum monthly balance of $3,000 will no longer be available.