Money & Banking

Banking Ombudsman: Customer complaints on the rise, but 23% of them not maintainable

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on November 27, 2017

Technology seems both a boon and bane in banking. While customers are able to do their banking transactions 24x7, from the comfort of their home, anytime and anywhere, people also seem to be losing money because of technology, observed U Chiranjeevi, Banking Ombudsman, RBI, Chennai.

Speaking to Business Line on the sidelines of the Coimbatore edition of Reserve Bank of India Quiz (RBIQ), he said that the number of complaints pertaining to credit and ATM cards are on the rise.

''But 23 per cent of the complaints are not maintainable. People are not aware of the scheme,'' he said and explained that the Banking Ombudsman office does not entertain complaints received through an advocate, forgery and frauds such as phishing attack or ending with other forums such as the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) and commercial transactions.''

''The complaint should be between the bank and the customer. And here too, we can take up the issue only if it is within this jurisdiction. For instance, if the complaint pertains to credit card transaction and the card holder's billing address is elsewhere (some other state), then I cannot take the complaint. It has to be taken up in that geography,'' Mr Chiranjeevi explained.

'The Banking Ombudsman scheme should be strengthened; with customer protection gaining strength, there is pressure for expanding the scheme to other areas such as cooperative and regional rural banks as well,'' he said.

The Ombudsman office though is facing manpower shortage. The staff strength according to Mr Chiranjeevi, has not been adequate to take care of the increasing number of complaints.

The office received 9,500 complaints last year, which is said to be 21 per cent higher than the numbers received the earlier fiscal.

With expanding branch network, financial inclusion initiatives and entry of new banks, the number of customer complaints is expected to go up.

The Banking Ombudsman however conceded that they have an institutional mechanism to resolve issues at the earliest. ''No complaint remains unresolved for more than 30 days,'' he said.

Of the total, nearly 25 per cent are ATM-related complaints. Other issues that are causing lots of social problems pertain to loss of title deeds, auction of jewellery without notice and hidden charges, he said.

Though State Bank of India topped in the number of complaints followed by Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, Mr Chiranjeevi said ''just because the number of complaints is high, it is not negative. They have a huge network, customer base is large and are expanding. That these banks too are able to resolve the issues within the stipulated time should be appreciated.''

Published on September 12, 2014

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