What To Do if Banking Ombudsman Delays Resolution of Your Complaint

Elsewhere in this blog I have written that in India, it is not easy to get justice from a Banking Ombudsman. One major area of concern here is an undue delay in the resolution of complaints in the offices of Banking Ombudsman. The funny thing is that the delay is caused most of the times by the concerned banks who just do not bother to respond to Banking Ombudsman's calls for their replies. There are no systemic problem causing this delay in the banks' response to complaints. Actually the nodal officers of all the banks have live connectivity with the complaint management software that is used by Banking Ombudsman. That means, the nodal officers of banks in India are free to access / download complaints from the Banking Ombudsman site and thereafter to upload their replies / supporting documents, etc. at any time. Still, there are delays because customer service is not an area of priority for the banks. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006 requires a complaint received in an Office of Banking Ombudsman to be resolved / rejected or otherwise closed within a period of one month [Clause 12(1)]. Internally, the top management of Reserve Bank of India expects all complaints received by a Banking Ombudsman to be resolved within a maximum period of three months. And the complaints that remain pending for over three months are required to be reported to Reserve Bank of India's Consumer Education & Protection Department (Customer Service Department). In practice, however, this reporting happens between three and 6 months. Keep reading...


Why Delays in Banking Ombudsman Offices in India Go Unchecked

The top management of Reserve Bank of India monitors the resolution of public complaints in the offices of Banking Ombudsman via a Central Office Department called Consumer Education & Protection Department. Unfortunately, this reporting happens on a calendar quarter basis. Complaints remaining pending for more than three months are reported as on March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. Now consider this: A complaint received by an office of Banking Ombudsman on January 1, 2015 and remaining unresolved on March 31, 2015 will not be reported to the top management on that day because technically it will complete three months of pendency on April 1, 2015. Hence this complaint can remain pending upto June 30, 2015 before it needs to be reported as a pending complaint.

Why Offices of Banking Ombudsman in India Cannot Act Against Banks for Delaying Resolution of Complaints

To understand this, we need to know who a Banking Ombudsman actually is. The officials who act as Banking Ombudsman in various offices of Reserve Bank of India are full time employees of Reserve Bank of India having their service designation as "General Manager". There was a time when retired judges of courts in India were appointed as Banking Ombudsman but not any more. A General Manager is not really a very high ranking official in Reserve Bank of India and hence will not be able to easily take a decision against a bank just for the delay in responding to a public complaint. Bankers have connections in Reserve Bank of India that go far above the stature of a Banking Ombudsman. During my two years of posting in the office of a Banking Ombudsman, I did not see a single complaint getting decided against a bank because they did not respond in time.

How To Protect Your Rights

Whenever you submit your complaint to a Banking Ombudsman in India, make sure to keep all the records of the dates of submission etc., and respond to any and all the subsequent queries that you receive from the Banking Ombudsman. If your complaint is not getting resolved within a period of two months from the date of submission, you should get really worried. As I have written in another article on Banking Ombudsman in this blog, offices of Banking Ombudsman in India try to close as many complaints as possible when a calendar quarter is about to end, that is just before March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31. And since we already know that a Banking Ombudsman is not all that powerful in India, it will be easier for them to reject a public complaint rather than taking a decision against well-connected bankers.

Use Your Right To Information

If after submitting your complaint to a Banking Ombudsman you have not received a decision for two months, you should use your legal right to information under the prevalent Right to Information Act and ask for details of the action taken on your complaint by the concerned Banking Ombudsman. For this, you need to address a simple letter quoting the prevalent Right to Information Act, enclose a Postal Order of Rs. 10 and send the letter to the same Banking Ombudsman who has your complaint. The Appellate Authority in case of Banking Ombudsman is the Deputy Governor in charge of the Consumer Education & Protection Department. Complaints / appeals in the cases of undue delay in the resolution of a public complaint by a Banking Ombudsman should be sent to:

The Deputy Governor
Reserve Bank of India
Consumer Education & Protection Department
Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg
Fort,
Mumbai - 400 001

or

The Governor
Reserve Bank of India
Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg
Fort,
Mumbai - 400 001

Remember to be proactive if you are serious about getting justice from a Banking Ombudsman in India.