The Reserve Bank of India released the banking ombudsman annual report for 2017-18 (July 1 2017 to June 30 2018). One of the highlights of the report is that the number of mis-selling complaints that reached the ombudsman were few. Only 0.4% of the 160,000 complaints the ombudsman received were regarding mis-selling. Anecdotally, mis-selling appears to be far more rampant.
There could be multiple reasons for this sort of low level of complaints regarding mis-selling, the prominent one being the lack of awareness that mis-selling could be reported to the ombudsman. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was updated only in 2017-18 to include mis-selling as a ground for complaint.
Let us take a look at how you can report your complaint to the banking ombudsman.
As a customer, if you have any complaint against your bank, the first step is to contact the bank itself and register a complaint. Grievances such as unauthorized electronic transactions, mis-selling of insurance and mutual fund products, issues related to loans and deposits, and mobile banking transactions can be raised at your bank.
However, if you are not satisfied with your bank’s response, then you can approach the banking ombudsman with your complaint. The complete list of grounds for complaints can be seen here.
You can also approach the ombudsman if your bank does not respond to your complaint within a month. The ombudsman will not consider your complaint if you have not approached the bank first, or if you approach the ombudsman after over a year from the date on which the bank replied to you.
Moreover, if your complaint is pending with any other court like a consumer court, then too, the banking ombudsman will not take your complaint into consideration.
Filing a complaint
The banking ombudsman is appointed by the RBI to resolve customers’ complaints regarding banking services and does not charge a fee. Currently, there are 21 banking ombudsman centres in India.
You can file a complaint on a plain paper to the ombudsman under whose jurisdiction the bank branch complained against is situated. For complaints relating to services with centralized operations, like credit cards, complaints may be filed before the banking ombudsman within whose territorial jurisdiction your billing address is located.
You can also file the complaint online. You will need to submit details of the bank and the branch you have complained against as well as the category under which you are filing the complaint.
You will also need to share your name, phone number and address while filing the complaint. The amount of money involved, if any, can also be mentioned in the complaint itself. You can also write an e-mail to the ombudsman on their respective e-mail IDs to file a complaint.
But remember, this is not a purely online redressal system. Depending upon the complexity of the case, you might be contacted by the ombudsman office on the phone. You could also be required to present your case in person. In cases which do not involve complexities, the ombudsman could make the award based on the written submissions from the complaint itself.
While making a particular complaint to the ombudsman, be prepared with all the details, including proof of your communication from the bank regarding the same complaint. The ombudsman has the power to award you up to ₹20 lakh or the actual amount of loss suffered, whichever is lower. Moreover, the ombudsman can also award up to ₹1 lakh for mental agony and harassment.
Once your complaint has been lodged, the ombudsman first attempts a settlement between you and the bank. In 2017-18, 66% of the total complaints were mutually settled. If the complaint is not settled within a month, the ombudsman then allows the complainant and the bank to present their case and makes an award.
Both the complaining consumer as well as the bank have an option to appeal to the appellate authority under the ombudsman scheme. This needs to be done within 30 days after the ombudsman has decided on a particular case. Moreover, the option to approach other courts like the consumer court also remains open.