Money & Banking

Customers irked by service issues in merged public sector banks

Our Bureau. Mumbai | Updated on April 02, 2021

Fear break in receipts, payments as they have not been able to update IFSC Codes or issue new MICR cheques

Customers of public sector banks that got merged with larger peers fear either missing out on dividend payments or facing cheque-bounce charges on post-dated instruments as they have not been able to intimate companies and lenders about the changed IFSC Code of their branches or issue new MICR cheques before the March 31, 2021 deadline.

They want this deadline extended as updating the new Indian Financial System Code in all the mandates given by them and notifying the remitters (of dividend on shares and interest on bonds) and replacing old post-dated MICR cheques given to lenders with new ones will take time.

Six PSBs were amalgamated with four public sector banks with effect from April 1, 2020. Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India were merged with Punjab National Bank; Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank with Union Bank of India; Syndicate Bank with Canara Bank; and Allahabad Bank with Indian Bank.

Social media consultant Dhimant Bhatt observed that customers of transferor PSBs (that got merged with larger PSBs) may be owning shares in many companies as well as having investments in bonds. Then may also get IT refunds.

Since intimating each company/authority about the change in branch IFSC Code will require some time, the deadline for updating new IFSC Codes and issuing new post-dated MICR cheques needs to be extended by three months, he said.

Trouble merging A/Cs

Indeed, customers of the merged PSBs continue to face issues. Praveen Bhat, a resident of Mangaluru and a customer of both Syndicate Bank (now merged with Canara Bank) and Canara Bank, wanted to merge two accounts in one branch of Canara Bank. When he approached the Canara Bank branch to merge the account from erstwhile Syndicate Bank’s (e-SB), Bhat was asked to visit the latter’s branch.

Since he did not get a satisfactory response to merge the account at e-SB branch, Bhat decided to close the account there. To his surprise, he was charged more than ₹1,000 as closing charges, including for a debit card he did not have. Terming the account closing charges as unethical, he said: “Merger is not my idea. They should not impose closing charges. Banking sector claims to use emerging technologies such as big data. Can’t they use it for identifying the customer having accounts in the same bank, and give him an option to merge or close?”

Bhat, who also has an account with the erstwhile Corporation Bank (e-CB), said he did not face much problem there. However, most of the time the bank (now part of Union Bank of India) sends messages about the non-availability of online banking/ATMs on Sundays due to server upgradation. “I get time to do my personal work on Sundays. That is the time when the online banking facility is not available,” he said.

Issues with app

Fifty-two-year-old Indrajit Haldar used to frequently use the mobile app of the erstwhile Kolkata-headquartered United Bank of India (e-UBI) prior to its merger with Punjab National Bank, for all kinds of transactions. But of late he seldom uses the app as he feels it has become “more complicated” and “very slow”.

It took nearly a month for Subhasis Pal to withdraw money from his father’s Senior Citizens’ Savings Scheme account which was with e-UBI. “After my father expired in February, I approached the bank to close the account and withdraw the funds. However, it took them nearly one month to complete the formalities.

“They were facing severe challenges as there were some technical issues. In fact, the branch manager told me that it was as though the zip of one jacket has been forcibly fixed onto another jacket (referring to the technical difficulties in enabling the transaction post-merger),” he said.

With inputs from Kolkata and Mangaluru bureaus

Published on April 01, 2021

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