Every hour, 11 people complain against their bank


BENGALURU: Banks reporting fraud or cheating cases has become a fairly regular affair, but scores of account holders and borrowers also feel cheated by the bank everyday as complaints with the banking ombudsman shows.
From usurious interests to deliberate delay in accepting payments (which leads to penalties), and from non-adherence to fair practices to refusal to close accounts, more than 4 lakh people have lodged complaints against the banks in the period between April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2017, at an average of 11 every hour. Sources said that another 1 lakh plus complaints may have been received in the year ending March 31, 2018, but official figures are yet to be made public.
According to bankers, nearly 35% to 38% of complaints related to the banks’ failure to meet commitments and non-observance of fair practices, while another 20% relate to ATM, debit and credit card issues. At the bottom of the complaints—mostly dealing with Public Sector Banks (PSBs)—are complaints relating to pensions, which form about 8% of the pleas.
The number of complaints against banks have been growing in double digits in the last few years, with 2016-17 seeing a 27% growth to 1.3 lakh complaints, as per the Reserve Bank of India.
“While the number of complaints are increasing significantly, there seems to be little that customers get out of this process. According to information we gathered, only 0.2% of the complaints go in favour of the customers,” Tobby Simon of Synergia Foundation, a multi-disciplinary think-tank, said.
Experts pointed out that one reason for this could be that all the ombudsmen dealing with customer complaints are from the banking fraternity, who could be biased.
However, there is no independent evidence to substantiate such claims.
Of these complaints, more than 2.8 lakh are against Public Sector Banks (PSBs), while the rest are against private banks. And, although there is not data for the amount involved in these complaints, experts say that they can run into tens of crores.
In some cases, the figure even goes into lakhs of rupees. For example, the Banking Ombudsman in Chennai recently disposed a case, where an account holder with a private bank had borrowed Rs 19.95 lakh in 2007, and had repaid Rs 35.63 lakh by the end of December 2017, which included Rs 15.68 lakh as interest. However, the bank since then claims that he still owes the bank another Rs 11.48 lakh.
Experts also point out that lack of awareness among customers, and the long procedures involved in dealing with banks often result in people not taking up the issue. “If there are 10 complaints with the ombudsman in any region, you can assume that there are at least another 30 that have not reached the authority,” one of them said.

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