Customer complaints against banks surge 25% to 1.63 L in FY18

Mumbai: Customer complaints to the banking ombudsman (BO) increased by a fourth to 1.63 lakh in the year, with a majority of them related to unfair practices, the Reserve Bank has said.

Country’s largest lender SBI topped the list with close to 47,000 plaints, while HDFC Bank led among the private sector lenders with over 12,000 complaints, and American lender Citibank had 1,450 complaints, the RBI said in its report that takes into account the period until June 2018.

The RBI, in the annual report of the BO scheme, said a rise in the number of complaints from digital transactions, an ombudsman scheme for digital transactions is proposed to be formulated and implemented during 2018-19.

In the year gone by, the 21 BO offices received 1,63,590 complaints, marking an increase of 24.9 per cent over previous year, and 96 per cent of them were disposed, the RBI said.

The major grounds of complaints received during the year was non-observance of fair practices code at 22.1 per cent, ATM and debit card issues at 15.1 per cent and credit card issues at 7.7 per cent, and mobile and electronic banking at 5.2 per cent, according to the report.

Problems relating to pension, levy of charges without notice, loans, remittances, agents involved in direct sales and recovery and mis-selling accounted for five per cent or less of the total complaints received each, it said.

The percentage of maintainable complaints which were resolved by agreement i.e. through mediation increased to 65.8 per cent from 42.4 per cent, RBI said.

The BOs issued 148 awards during the year, of which 111 were implemented, it said, adding this is a huge surge in awards when compared with the 31 issued last year.

In FY18, the BO scheme was revised to enhance the powers of BOs by doubling the amount of compensation for loss that can be granted in an award to Rs 20 lakh, Deputy Governor, MK Jain, said in his foreword to the report.

The average cost of handling a complaint came down to Rs 3,504 in 2017-18 from Rs 3,626 due to an increase in efficiency and economies of scale, it said.

NT Bureau