The RBI notified the Banking Ombudsman Scheme in the year 1995 under Section 35 of the Banking Regulation Act 1949. The Scheme is a cost-free Alternate Dispute Redressal mechanism. All Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Scheduled Primary Co-operative Banks are covered under the Scheme.
Technology has brought the grievance redressal mechanism to the doorsteps of customers. Young and new generation bank customers are well aware of their rights and how to exert them. Being techno-savvy, this generation is extensively using electronic modes of lodging complaints. During the year under review, 49% of the complaints received in the (Office of the Banking Ombudsman)OBOs were lodged through electronic mode. This brings to the fore that the redressal mechanism of banks is required to match the pace and realign the resolution process extensively through automation.
There were 102894 complaints received during the year 2015-16 at 15 OBOs across 29 States and 7 Union Territories. Compared to previous year there was 21 % increase in the complaints received in the OBOs during the year 2015-16. This is a clear indicator of increasing awareness amongst bank customers about their rights and ways to exert them.
What are the grounds for complaints?
The Banking Ombudsman can receive and consider any complaint relating to the following deficiency in banking services:
- non-payment or inordinate delay in the payment or collection of cheques, drafts, bills etc.;
- non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of small denomination notes tendered for any purpose, and for charging of commission in respect thereof;
- non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of coins, tendered and for charging of commission in respect thereof;non-payment or delay in payment of inward remittances ;
- failure to issue or delay in issue of drafts, pay orders or bankers’ cheques;
- non-adherence to prescribed working hours ;
- failure to provide or delay in providing a banking facility (other than loans and advances) promised in writing by a bank or its direct selling agents;
- delays, non-credit of proceeds to parties’ accounts, non-payment of deposit or non-observance of the Reserve Bank directives, if any, applicable to rate of interest on deposits in any savings, current or other account maintained with a bank ;
- complaints from Non-Resident Indians having accounts in India in relation to their remittances from abroad, deposits and other bank-related matters;
- refusal to open deposit accounts without any valid reason for refusal;
- levying of charges without adequate prior notice to the customer;
- Non-adherence to the instructions of Reserve Bank on ATM / Debit Card and Prepaid Card operations in India by the bank or its subsidiaries
- Non-adherence by the bank or its subsidiaries to the instructions of Reserve Bank on credit card operations
- Non-adherence to the instructions of Reserve Bank with regard to Mobile Banking / Electronic Banking service in India by the bank
- Non-disbursement or delay in disbursement of pension (to the extent the grievance can be attributed to the action on the part of the bank concerned, but not with regard to its employees);
- Refusal to accept or delay in accepting payment towards taxes, as required by Reserve Bank/Government;
- Refusal to issue or delay in issuing, or failure to service or delay in servicing or redemption of Government securities;
- Forced closure of deposit accounts without due notice or without sufficient reason;
- Refusal to close or delay in closing the accounts;
- Non-adherence to the fair practices code as adopted by the bank;
- Non-adherence to the provisions of the Code of Bank’s Commitments to Customers issued by Banking Codes and Standards Board of India and as adopted by the bank ;
- Non-observance of Reserve Bank guidelines on engagement of recovery agents by banks;
- Non-adherence to Reserve Bank guidelines on para-banking activities like sale of insurance / mutual fund /other third-party investment products by banks
- Any other matter relating to the violation of the directives issued by the Reserve Bank in relation to banking or other services.
A customer can also file a complaint on the following grounds of deficiency in service with respect to loans and advances
- non-observance of Reserve Bank Directives on interest rates;
- delays in sanction, disbursement or non-observance of prescribed time schedule for disposal of loan applications;
- non-acceptance of application for loans without furnishing valid reasons to the applicant; and
- non-adherence to the provisions of the fair practices code for lenders as adopted by the bank or Code of Bank’s Commitment to Customers, as the case may be;
- non-observance of any other direction or instruction of the Reserve Bank as may be specified by the Reserve Bank for this purpose from time to time.
The Banking Ombudsman may also deal with such other matter as may be specified by the Reserve Bank from time to time.
When can one file a complaint?
At first, one has to give a written complaint to the bank.If the reply is not received from the bank within a period of 30 days after the bank has received one’s complaint, or the bank dismissed the complaint, or if the complainant is not satisfied with the reply given by the bank, one can then file a complaint before the Banking Ombudsman.
Where can one lodge his/her complaint?
A complaint can be filed at the office of the Banking Ombudsman under whose jurisdiction, the bank branch against which the complaint has been filed is situated.
For example, complaints relating to credit cards and other types of services with centralized operations, complaints may be filed before the Banking Ombudsman within whose territorial jurisdiction the billing address of the customer is located.
What details are required in the application?
One should mention his/her name and address, the name and address of the bank branch against which the complaint is made, facts leading to the complaint supported by documents, if any, the nature and extent of the loss caused to the complainant due to the deficiency in service, the relief sought from the Banking Ombudsman.
What happens once a complaint is received by the Banking Ombudsman?
The Banking Ombudsman endeavors to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and the bank named in the complaint, through conciliation or mediation.
If the terms of the settlement (offered by the bank) are acceptable to the complainant in full and final settlement of one’s complaint, the Banking Ombudsman will pass an order as per the terms of settlement which becomes binding on the bank and the complainant.
Is there any further recourse available if one rejects the Banking Ombudsman’s decision?
Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Banking Ombudsman rejecting the complaint for the reasons specified in the Banking Ombudsman Scheme 2006 (As amended up to July 1, 2017) can approach the Appellate Authority. The Appellate Authority is vested with a Deputy Governor of the RBI.
Other recourse and/or remedies available to him/her as per the law can also be explored. The bank also has a right to appeal before the Appellate Authority under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme. This appeal has to be made within a period of 30 days from the date of award or decision.
Here are the 5 steps to file your complaint at the Bank and Banking Ombudsman
- Fill in your complaint in the complaint register in the bank branch. If not available at the customer service desk, ask for it or fill it up online on the bank’s website.
- Ask for names of officials who can be contacted for resolution of complaints, if they are not displayed in the branch. Banks have a nodal officer for complaint redressal.
- If you are not satisfied with the redressal, you can write to the internal ombudsman of the bank.In May 2015, the RBI had advised all public sector banks, some private sector, and foreign banks to appoint internal ombudsmen to boost the quality of customer service.The internal ombudsman is designated as Chief Customer Service Officer (CCSO) and has not worked in the bank in which he/she is appointed as CCSO.
- Your complaint has to be resolved within 30 days from the date of receipt. If not, the bank has to give in writing the reasons for not doing so. If your bank does not resolve your complaint within 30 days, approach RBI’s Banking Ombudsman. RBI’s Banking Ombudsman scheme resolves your complaint expeditiously and free of cost.
- Simply write on a plain paper or file an online complaint or send an email to register your complaint. Name, Address and email ID of the Office of Banking Ombudsman can be obtained from here.