Withdraw $1,600 from the client’s account-her bank will not explain why

When she started selling luxury handbags online in South Korea during the pandemic, Angel Pui was very happy.

The timing was good, thought the Vancouver mother of two—just before the Christmas holidays and expenses at that time of the year.

She checked her bank account with Tangerine, an online subsidiary of Scotiabank, and confirmed that her client had transferred $1,600.

Then she shipped the coveted Gucci handbag and thought everything was fine.

But in January, Pui checked her bank statement and found that the money was missing. When she called Tangerine, Pui said she was only told that the payment had been recalled by a bank in South Korea.

“Wait a minute, I have $1,600,” Pui remembered. “You mean you can’t tell me anything?”

“I’m very angry,” she said. “I thought…how could you do this without my consent? This is my money.”

Pui sent an email asking what happened to her money. She did not get a response.

Laura Jones, executive vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said that as more and more transactions move online, small business owners are increasingly facing this problem during the pandemic.

Jones said: “It’s very frustrating when you don’t know why you want to withdraw the money.” “And most people will say that it didn’t pass any fairness test.”

After Go Public participated, Tangerine returned $1,600 to Pui’s account as a “goodwill gesture”, but did not first explain why or what happened.

Orange declined to be interviewed.in a Public statementA spokesperson said she was unable to comment on another financial institution’s request for funds to be recalled, but when the bank received these requests, it would “consider a variety of factors before making a decision”. It declined to specify what these factors were.

These designer handbags are hot commodities, and Pui said that he hopes some of them will sell for more than US$25,000. (Mike Zimmer/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

‘I’m just shocked’

Although Pui has been in business for less than a year, she said that during that time she sold a lot of luxury handbags and never encountered any problems.

Her business is a niche market—and a glimpse into a world most people know nothing about.

Designer fashion companies such as Chanel, Hermès and Gucci produce a limited number of exclusive handbags each year. Pui noticed that women posted their recent purchases on Instagram, and then followed the bidding wars as other women tried to obtain limited edition handbags.

“Everyone is chasing the same unicorn,” she said. “It’s hard to buy. It’s beautiful. And they can see that its value is rising.”

She created a website for people to buy and sell their luxury handbags-including the rare handbags she paid for, hoping to profit from it. She said that before long, inquiries from all over the world began to flood in.

“The most popular places for luxury handbags are Asia-China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore,” she said. “But it’s really all over the world.”

Tangerine eventually returned $1,600 to Pui’s account as a “goodwill gesture.” (Enzo Sanata/CBC)

Therefore, when Pui received an inquiry from South Korea about the Gucci bag, and then asked whether payment can be made by electronic funds transfer (EFT), there were no red flags. Unlike electronic transfers using e-mail, EFT transfers funds directly from one person’s bank account to another person’s bank account, without the need to go to the bank or related fees like wire transfers.

“I said yes, I think it’s really safe,” Pui said. “I use Alipay, [electronic] Bank transfer, wire transfer, all options. I really trust that I have never encountered a problem before. ”

Sure enough, the $1,600 arrived soon and stayed in Bei’s account for a month. But then, her accountant asked her to download all tax reports.

“At that time, I noticed an entry called’Cancel payment’-I have $1,600 in my bank account,” she said. “I just feel shocked.”

She tried to contact the buyer, but said that several emails were not answered.

But what really angered Pui was when Tangerine tried to trace the truth about the lost money, her silence was shocking. She said that no one responded to her first three emails, and she only received a response after Go Public participated.

Sarah Bradley, bank inspector, said she wants financial institutions to be transparent with their customers. (Submitted by the Ombudsman)

Guaurav Singh, Tangerine’s chief operating officer, said the bank will repay her money, but added that her account was not used for commercial purposes. Go Public repeatedly asked whether using different accounts would provide more protection-when a spokesperson finally answered, she declined to answer this question.

“I am not satisfied that they did not give me a clear answer to what happened,” Pui said. “It only makes me more frustrated.”

Transparency “always advisable”

Perhaps to many people’s surprise, most of the clients of financial institutions-including Tangerine-agree Terms and conditions Allow their bank to transfer money out of the account.

No need to get authorization, or even to remind customers.

“Not all bank agreements are the same, but the language usually contained in them provides a lot of room for banks to handle such cases,” said Sarah Bradley, Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of the Banking Services and Investment Ombudsman.

She said the reasons for not notifying customers could include suspected fraud or money laundering.

Watch | Tangerine finally returned $1,600 to his account in a “goodwill gesture”

A Vancouver woman said that her bank deducted $1,600 from her account for electronic transfers without explanation. She learned that most bank agreements have fine prints stating that the bank is not obliged to explain why it would withdraw the deposit. 2:09

Bradley said that in the cases she has reviewed, banks usually provide reasons – but they understand that it would be frustrating not to do so.

Transparency is “always desirable, it’s only part of good customer service,” she said, adding that customers who cannot get an answer can file higher complaints — within the organization, or if not, to an external inspector.

But Laura Jones, executive vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said customers shouldn’t argue about finding out what happened to their money.

“These large financial institutions need to be more transparent,” Jones said. “At least, financial institutions need to have some requirements to get back to business owners and communicate with them.”

Laura Jones, vice chairman of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said that small businesses’ response to the bureaucracy of financial institutions is “extremely challenging. (Sean Foss/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Jones said the epidemic has made the problem even more complicated-more and more small business owners are turning to the Internet, they report that this type of suspected fraud has increased, and that it is a hardship to get their money back. battle. Big banks must follow a series of time-consuming steps in order to escalate complaints before internal inspectors finally hear them.

“Most banks or financial institutions have some [internal] The appeal process, but we have not yet spoken to the business owner who actually won one of the appeals,” Jones said.

To complicate matters, the growing scale of the gig economy means that many small business operators are using personal accounts, which may provide less protection than the corporate account option—account agreements between banks vary.

The whole ordeal made Pui of her online bank worse.

“I chose orange because it looks really convenient… modern and simple,” she said. “But when something like this happens… there is no physical store. You can’t line up at the teller and ask to get your money back.”

She has transferred most of her business to another financial institution, hoping to show that customers like her should not be confused about what happened to their money.

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