Unhappy with your bank? Go to the Banking OmbudsmanThere are many instances of painful losses that banks cause to us on a daily basis. In such instances, who do you complain to? The answer is not the RBI itself, but an authority set up by the RBI, the Banking Ombudsman.

Banking Ombudsmen are one or more officers in the rank of Chief General Manager or General Manager of RBI and they are usually appointed for not exceeding three years at a time.

What sort of complaints can you raise?

We give you a few common types of complaints below. (For the full list, go to the section on the RBI website.) 

  1. Delay in the payment or collection of cheques
  2. Non-acceptance of notes and coins
  3. Non-adherence to prescribed working hours
  4. Failure or delay in providing a banking facility promised in writing by the bank and its direct selling agents
  5. Complaints by NRIs in relation to their remittances, deposits or any other matters
  6. Levying of charges on the customer without adequate prior notice
  7. Account debited but cash not dispensed by the bank’s ATM
  8. Less/excess cash dispensed by ATMs
  9. Threatening calls/inappropriate actions by recovery agents
  10. Unauthorised online fund transfer
  11. Refusal/delay in closing accounts

How do you complain?

You can submit a complaint by post or email in the format specified in Annexure A. As per the format, you must mention the bank’s name and address along with your own and the details of your complaint. You have to submit the complaint to the Ombudsman office in whose jurisdiction your billing address is located. You can get a full list of Ombudsman Offices and their addresses/contact details here.

However, before you approach the Ombudsman, you must first submit your complaint to your bank in writing. If the bank’s answer in unsatisfactory or if it fails to answer within 30 days, you can approach the Ombudsman. You cannot approach the Ombudsman if you have moved in Court or Tribunal on the same grounds as those mentioned in the complaint.

What does the Ombudsman do?

At first, the Ombudsman will try to resolve the matter through mediation and conciliation. It may call meetings of both parties and encourage them to reach an agreement on the issue. If this does not work, the Ombudsman can issue:

  1. Directions to the bank to take a specific action to redress the complaint
  2. An award up to Rs 20 lakh
  3. An award for costs incurred by the complainant up to Rs 1 lakh (on account of the loss of the complainant’s time, expenses incurred by the complainant, harassment and mental agony suffered by the complainant.)

Once the Ombudsman reaches a decision, you have to indicate in writing whether you accept it or not. The decision only becomes effective once you indicate your acceptance.

If you do not accept the Ombudsman decision, you can file an appeal with the Appellate Authority within 30 days of the Ombudsman’s decision. The bank can also appeal the Ombudsman’s award within 30 days of your acceptance of the award.

What other remedies do you have?

  • You can approach the District Consumer Forum (colloquially known as the Consumer Court) forum or other relevant authority under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
  • You can approach a Civil Court under the Indian Contract Act, 1872.
  • If the bank or one of its employees has committed a fraud against you, you can file a complaint with the police under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with cheating.
Neil Borate

Neil Borate is Deputy Editor, RupeeIQ. He can be contacted at neil@rupeeiq.com.