CHENNAI: The angst over banking charges are not new. Even a quick perusal of the Reserve Bank of India’s latest annual report (2015-16) on the Banking Ombudsman shows that over three years ending on March 31, 2016, complaints on charges levied without prior intimation alone accounted for nearly 6% of total complaints. According to bank officials, these complaints have only risen through the last financial year and especially during the last six months. “We have noticed complaints related to charges increase in proportion, as some charges started being reintroduced over the last few months.
“Most of these were because SMS intimations of revised of charges were not received by some customers and email alerts were not seen,” admitted a grievance redressal department official of a public sector bank. Most banks have grievance redressal mechanisms of their own, and if no recourse is available, the Banking Ombudsman deals with cases. Through FY16 alone, 5,705 complaints were filed on banks levying charges without prior notice, up from 5,510 the previous financial year and 4,547 during FY14. But some officials say that not all complaints related to charges might be filed under this sub-head. “Some of these can get filed as a failure to meet commitments or non-observance of fair practice norms,” said a banker.
Many complaints could also have gone unreported, experts point out, especially in rural and semi-rural areas. Data from the report shows that 73 per cent of complaints received in FY16 came from urban and metropolitan centres.
And while rural and semi-urban centres accounted for only 17 per cent of complaints, they lag behind in growth in number of complainants too. Complaints from urban areas grew at 40 per cent year-on-year in FY16, compared to just 12.6 per cent in semi-rural and 8.6 per cent in rural areas.
However, bankers claim that the resolution rate for these complaints is generally high. While data is not available on exactly what percentage of cases were resolved in each category, only 5 per cent of overall complaints received in FY16 were pending at the end of the year.
Failure to meet commitments/fair practice codes: 34,928 (33.9%)
ATM/Debit cards: 13,081 (12.7%)
Credit cards: 8,740 (8.5%),
Pension payments: 6,342 (6.2%),
Levy of charges without prior notice: 5,705 (5.5%)
Loans and advances: 5,399 (5.3%)
Deposit accounts: 5,046 (4.9%)
Remittances: 2,494 (2.4%)
Out of subject: 3,751 (3.7%)
Others: 16,988 (16.5%)