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Have Complaints Against Your Bank? Try The Banking Ombudsman.

If you are not happy with your banking services — and the bank is not giving you due attention — here's one solution... Banking Ombudsman Scheme.

The scheme was initiated by the Reserve Bank of India. Its objective is to resolve and settle all your complaints related to various services rendered by the banks.

This includes (a) not only the banking services at the branch or ATM, (b) but also internet banking and other non-banking services that banks now routinely offer.

Here's a brief overview of the salient features of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme.

A. Complaints covered under the Scheme
Following is the list of problems, for which the customers can approach the Banking Ombudsman, for timely resolution.

- Inordinate delay or non-payment of cheques, drafts, bills and inward remittances
- Not accepting small denomination notes or coins without genuine reason, or charging a commission for the same
- Delay or failure to issue drafts, pay orders or bankers’ cheques
- Delay or failure to provide banking facility promised in writing (by the bank or its agents) 
- Not adhering to the prescribed working hours
- Refusing to open an account without valid reasons
- Asking the customers to pay charges without prior notice
- Complaints from NRIs regarding remittances from abroad, deposits and other services
- Delays, non-credit, non-payment in deposits accounts or not observing the RBI guidelines on interest rates
- Not complying with the RBI guidelines on stolen / cloned cards, errors in ATM withdrawals or accounts debited without use of card
- Not adhering to RBI guidelines on unsolicited calls regarding insurance / credit cards, wrong billing, threatening calls, wrongful reporting to Credit Information Bureaus or delay in rectification of the same
- Delay or failure in online fund transfers and payments, or unauthorized payments
- Delay or refusing to accept payment towards taxes
- Forced closure of accounts without notice or reason
- Delay or refusing to close accounts
- Delay or non-disbursement of pension
- Not complying with the fair practices or the Code of Bank's Commitments to Customers issued by Banking Codes and Standards Board of India
- Not adhering to RBI guidelines on sale of insurance / mutual fund / other third-party investments
- Any other violations of the RBI guidelines
- Complaints related to loans and advances such as refusing any loan application without genuine reason; delay in sanction / disbursement; or not adhering to RBI guidelines on interest rates.

banking-ombudsman-scheme
Banking Ombudsman is here to protect you against substandard banking services.

B. Procedure for Filing your Complaint
1. You should have first filed your complaint with the bank. Thereafter, you can write to the Banking Ombudsman, if the bank has rejected your complaint; or not replied for more than a month; or you are not satisfied with the banks' response.

2. You have to approach the Banking Ombudsman within one year of receiving the bank's reply (or within one year and one month where no reply is received).

3. If the complaint is pending with (or already adjudicated) by any court, tribunal or arbitrator, the same cannot be again filed with the Banking Ombudsman.   

4. You have to file your complaint with the Banking Ombudsman, within whose jurisdiction the branch or office of the bank complained against, is located.

For services that are centralized in nature, e.g. credit cards, you have to approach the Banking Ombudsman, within whose territorial jurisdiction, your billing address is located.

5. If feasible, you should lodge your complaint in the Form specified for this purpose (along with the copies of all relevant documents). Or, something similar, giving the following details:
i.     your name and address
ii.    name and address of the branch or office of the bank against which the complaint is raised
iii.   facts pertaining to the complaint
iv.   nature and extent of the loss incurred
v.    relief sought

6. The complaint can even be lodged in the electronic form.

C. Settlement of Complaint
1. As a first step, the Banking Ombudsman will try to resolve the complaint through mediation or conciliation.

2. If mediation is not successful within a period of one month from the date of receipt of the complaint (or additional time granted, if any), the Banking Ombudsman shall give both the parties an opportunity to present their case, and then pass an Award or reject the complaint.

3. The Award may contain directions for the bank, and also the amount of compensation to be paid by the bank to the complainant. 

4. The Banking Ombudsman can award a maximum compensation of Rs.20 lakhs. However, the amount of compensation should not be more than the actual loss incurred by the complainant.

5. In addition, the Banking Ombudsman can also award a sum — not exceeding Rs.1 lakh — to the complainant towards expenses incurred and harassment / mental agony suffered.

6. The complainant must convey the acceptance of the Award, as full and final settlement, to the bank within 30 days. Else the Award will lapse.

7. The bank has to comply with the directions in the Award, within 30 days of receipt of the acceptance.

D. Rejection of the Complaint
Under the following circumstances, the Banking Ombudsman can reject the complaint:
- it is not a relevant complaint as listed earlier
- it does not comply with the conditions stipulated under the procedure discussed earlier
- it is beyond the jurisdiction of Banking Ombudsman
- it is not pursued by the complainant with reasonable diligence
- there is no loss or damage or inconvenience caused to the complainant
- it requires elaborate evidence and the proceedings before the Banking Ombudsman are not appropriate for adjudication of such complaint.

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