Monday, May 10, 2010

Consumer should first approach bank for redressal of complaint before Ombudsman

How many of us are aware about the process for filing complaint with the Ombudsman? It seems the percentage will be around 2-3 % only. Earlier people did not know about the Banking Ombudsman and as they know about it many of them don’t know about the conditions for governing the filing of complaint before the Ombudsman due to which large number of complaints get rejected at this stage simply.

Reason being every complaint that goes before the Banking Ombudsman has to go through the following checks to determine whether case can be taken up or not.

First it is checked whether the complaint comes under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

Second is whether it is a ‘first resort complaint’ – means did the consumer first tried to approach the bank for redress of his complaint.

Third whether the complaint has been filed within the prescribed time limit- that is within one year from the receipt of a reply from the bank.

Then the other issues are (a) whether the complaint has been handled by the Ombudsman before, (b) whether it is pending before any other tribunal or forum or law court and (c) whether there has been any decision on the dispute by any other court or tribunal or forum.

The most basic thing is that the consumer should try the in-house complaint redressal forum provided by the bank. When he or she does not get any satisfactory response they should redress mechanism provided by the Ombudsman.

As consumer are not aware about this as a result many consumers complaint gets rejected from the Ombudsman.

Although they can re-send the complaint after completing the formalities and in some cases, the Ombudsmen say when it rejects the complaint, it also send a copy of the complaint as well as the rejection letter to the bank concerned and some banks do respond at this stage and sort out the problem.

However there is no statistical data available that how many such cases are resolved in this manner.

As per records in 2007-2008, as many as 7,950 complaints were sent back because they were ‘first resort complaints. The number constitutes 40 per cent of the total number of 19,735 complaints rejected.

In the next year the number was more than double- 18,187 complaints were ‘first resort ‘complaints. The total number of rejected complaints increased which shows that there is lack of consumer awareness about the scheme.

In 2008-2009 the total number of such rejected complaints stood at 43,115.

So the first step is to approach bank for redressal of complaint. When you send your complaint, give your complete address and contact details. Consumers also need to remember that they cannot file the complaint before the consumer forum as well as the Ombudsman. If you don’t find the decision given by Ombudsman satisfactory then you can file a case before the consumer court but you cannot file the complaint simultaneously before both the forums.

In one of instance the customer said that he filed his complaint related to home loan issue with Ombudsman but it was rejected by it as he had not approached the bank first. After that he has sent several e-mails to the bank, but the bank was not responding. Even his e-mails were bounced back.

In such case he should send a hard copy of the complaint to the bank’s Nodal officer.

The RBI has made it mandatory that every bank must nominate a nodal officer for redress of consumer complaints.

You can get the contact details of the Nodal officer from the bank. Send your complaint by registered post, acknowledgement due.

In case bank does not reply within a month, re-send your complaint to the Ombudsman, but while doing so, make sure that give proof of having complained to the bank first. And always remember to give your complete address and contact details, also of the bank.

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