Listening to Carnatic music, watching and being with nature, reading and discussing Jiddu Krishnamurti’s philosophy.

S Madhavan

It's all in the interpretation

| Updated on August 26, 2013 Published on August 25, 2013


A popular TV channel aired a programme on education loans recently.

While students were asked about the difficulties they faced in getting their loan, bankers were asked the procedures and rules that were to be followed to obtain a loan. When the anchor asked a specific question if any security is required to obtain an education loan below Rs 4 lakh, half the bankers present said no security is required quoting RBI guidelines. The other half said it is required quoting the same guidelines, of course, interpreting them in a different way.

This brought back to memory the experience of losing Rs 10,000 at an ATM due to its malfunction, and how I was shunted by my bank due to the way it interpreted the RBI guidelines.

Q.10. What steps should a customer take in case of failed ATM transaction at other bank ATMs, where his account is debited?

Ans 10. The customer should lodge a complaint with the card issuing bank at the earliest. This process is applicable even if the transaction was carried out at another bank’s ATM. Source:

It just says that one has to inform the banker of the loss of money due to malfunction. It does not say how one should inform the bank, through email, phone or in writing.

When I informed my bank immediately over phone what had happened at an ATM, an official told me that I should make a proper complaint. Following his advice I sent him an email.

Since the ATM I used was not that of my bank, I also informed the bank that it belonged to. The bank that owned the ATM said I would get my money back in 24 hours. But it didn’t happen. After 48 hours, when I informed my bank I had not got my money back, I was told to make a written complaint.

Protesting against this, I wrote to the Bank’s ombudsman quoting RBI guidelines.

Then my Bank called me over phone and said it was the procedure followed by all banks and I should follow the same. I submitted a written complaint but before that I put forth my case to the RBI Ombudsman quoting its guidelines, which accepted my complaint as ‘Maintainable’.

Two days later I got back my money.

Meanwhile, my son called me from Bangalore and said he lost Rs 300 at an ATM near his place and asked me to communicate the same to his bank. I duly sent an email to his bank.

Note a) the account holder (my son) didn’t communicate with the bank t(this is different from the one I hold an account with); b) no written complaint was made. That very day Rs 300 was credited to his account.

One or two days after this, I got a call from my bank asking me to send an emai(!) to them stating that I had got back my Rs 10,000 as the RBI had asked them to get a letter from me in response to my complaint.

I narrated both incidents to the bank and finally said it is sheer interpretation of rules according to one’s whims and fancies. An interesting piece of information I learnt from these episodes is: There is an internal account balancing system that automatically ensures reversal of amount whenever wrong debits are made due to ATM malfunctioning.

Every bank just has to check its ATM statement, and wherever there is excess fund, it has to transfer that amount to the source bank either after verifying the ATM card details which is available on the statement itself, or verifying the complaint received regarding the same.

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Published on August 25, 2013
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