Customer complaints against banks surge 25% in FY18: RBI report

More people are complaining about banking services than before even as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) claims to have increased its efficiency in resolving plaints.

 

The 21 offices of the banking ombudsman received 163,590 complaints in 2017-18 (FY18), marking an increase of 24.9 per cent over the previous year. Most of the complaints were against nationalised banks, followed by State Bank of India and its associates (now merged). This is not surprising, considering these bans also account for 70 per cent of the banking industry.

 

Disposal rate was 96.5 per cent, compared to 92 per cent in the previous year, according to the annual report of the banking ombudsman scheme of the central bank. This is also the first ombudsman report that takes into account complaints against mobile banking and electronic banking services, with the services being brought into ambit under the scheme in July 2017.

 

The central bank now plans to float a separate ombudsman for digital banking. It has already started an ombudsman scheme for deposit taking non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) in February 2018 that would be extended to other NBFCs as well, said RBI’s Deputy Governor and appellate authority M K Jain in the foreword of the report.

 

RBI’s financial year runs from July 1 to June 30. In FY18, the RBI doubled the award that an ombudsman office can offer to Rs 20 lakh, and allowed a compensation of Rs 1 lakh towards “harassment and mental anguish.” Earlier, this provision was available only for credit card complaints. Importantly, 65.8 per cent of the complaints were resolved by agreement and through mediation, compared with 42.4 per cent a year ago. The report said that 148 awards were issued in the year, compared to 31 awards issued in the previous year.

 

“The major grounds of complaints received during the year were non-observance of fair practices code (22.1 per cent), automated teller machine and debit card issues (15.1 per cent), credit card issues (7.7 per cent), failure to meet commitments (6.8 per cent), mobile and electronic banking (5.2 per cent),” according to a statement attached with the report.

Complaints received on grounds such as problems relating to ‘Pension’, ‘Levy of Charges without Notice’, ‘Loans and Advances’, ‘Remittance’, ‘DSA and Recovery Agents’ and ‘Mis-selling’ each accounted for 5 per cent or less of the total complaints received.

 

The most complaints came from New Delhi and Mumbai. Zone-wise, North recorded 44 per cent of the complaints, while East accounted for only 15 per cent of the complaints. Half of the complaints came from urban areas, the report showed.

 

With increased expansion of grounds on which appeal can be filed against the decision of the ombudsman, the appellate authority received 125 appeals, a sharp rise from previous year’s 15 appeals. Awareness was also built up due to campaigns and outreach activities in rural and semi-urban areas, the RBI said.

 

“RBI’s SMS handle ‘RBISAY’ was extensively used for sending text messages on topics such as fictitious offers of money, secured use of electronic banking facilities, banking ombudsman scheme, etc. An integrated voice recognition service facility (by giving a missed call on 14440) was also made available to the public by the RBI for getting more information on the above,” the central bank said.



Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel