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Complaints Against Banks Increase, Ombudsman Comes To The Rescue

Friday, February 13, 2015
By A Business Reporter

Compared to last year, there has been an increase of 8.55% in the number of complaints received by RBI's Banking Ombudsman Offices in the year 2013-2014. This was revealed by the Reserve Bank of India, yesterday,  as it released the 'Annual Report of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme for the year 2013-2014'. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was established by the Reserve Bank in 1995 to provide speedy solutions to the grievances faced by bank customers.   

The Report indicates that during the year 2013-2014, the number of complaints received by Banking Ombudsmen increased by 8.55% to 76,573, from 70,541 complaints received during the previous year. Of these the Banking Ombudsmen disposed off 96% of the total complaints received.

Incidentally, of the total complaints received 32% were against SBI and Associates and Nationalized Banks each, 22% against Private Sector Banks and 6.5% against Foreign Banks. Complaints pertaining to failure to meet commitment, non-observance of fair practices code, Banking Codes and Standard Board of India (BCSBI) Codes taken together constituted largest category of complaints (26.6% of complaints received), followed by card related complaints (24.1%).

Non-adherence to prescribed working hours, refusal to accept, or delay in accepting, payments towards taxes, refusal to issue /delay in issuing or failure to service, or delay in servicing, or redemption of Government securities, refusal to close or delay in closing of accounts were other categories of complaints. The Appellate Authority handled 107 appeals under the Scheme during the year.

Perhaps, the number of complaints increased because more people became aware through various Awareness campaigns undertaken by Banking Ombudsmen during the year to ensure greater reach of the Scheme among the members of public. The feedback emanating from the complaints handled by the Banking Ombudsmen occasioned several customer-centric policy decisions by the Reserve Bank during the year.

People still preferred physical mode of complaints to electronic mode which is evident from the fact that 67% complaints were received by way of letters/post cards/fax whereas complaints received by email and online constituted 20% and 13% respectively.

Banking Ombudsman Scheme
The Reserve Bank introduced the Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BOS) in India on June 14, 1995 to provide an expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of their complaints relating to deficiency in banking services provided by commercial banks, regional rural banks and scheduled primary co-operative banks. The feedback obtained in the course of administering the BOS has been used by the Reserve Bank to modify the Scheme in 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2009, to include, among other things, customer complaints on new areas by both bank and its sales agents, levying service charges without prior notice to customers, non- adherence to Fair Practices Code adopted by individual banks, etc. From a total of 11 grounds of complaints, when the BO Scheme was introduced in 1995, today, BO Scheme provides for 27 grounds of complaints / deficiencies in bank services.

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