It’s imperative banks employ a customer-friendly approach, especially towards pensioners

The need for banks to adopt a consumer-friendly approach cannot be stressed enough. Here’s a case in point. Venkat had opted for voluntary retirement from the Agriculture Development Branch (ADB) of a nationalised bank and was thus a pensioner. His pension, from the local treasury office, was routed through another branch of the said bank to his account with the ADB. There were no problems till last July, when the pension amount for that month was not deposited to his account. Numerous representations made by him in person and in writing failed to elicit a response, and a thoroughly agitated Venkat sought our assistance. We have written to the bank on his behalf and are awaiting a response.

The Banking Ombudsman’s office, whose goal is to redress grievances of banking services users in an inexpensive, expeditious and fair manner, also deals with such issues.

In a particular case handled by the Ombudsman, the complainant’s subsistence allowance was not paid for more than 10 months though the Pension Payment Order (PPO) to the bank was dispatched much earlier. The complainant also furnished a copy of the Order. The bank replied that the PPO was not received by them and only on receipt of the same would they start disbursing the pension amount. The Ombudsman asked the bank to consider the complainant’s copy of the Order and ordered for the release of the pension and to subsequently get a copy of the PPO from the authorities concerned.

In another instance, the complainant had requested the bank to transfer her savings account as well as her PPO to another branch of the bank, located near her native.

The bank closed her savings account and the pension account, and transferred the papers to the new branch. A new savings account was opened in her name and the balance in her old account was transferred to her new account. However, the bank failed to draw her pension at either the old branch or the new.

The complainant took up the matter with the bank, and on receiving no response, approached the Ombudsman. Upon inquiry, it was revealed that the bank had lost the PPO in transit due to which the pension was not being drawn. The bank stated that after obtaining the duplicate PPO, it would disburse the pension amount to the complainant. The Ombudsman observed that the customer should not suffer for the loss of the PPO by the bank and advised it to pay the pension immediately, along with arrears and applicable compensation after obtaining the certificate.

It is useful to have an independent and responsive forum that provides expeditious and inexpensive solution to consumers’ complaints.

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details / queries contact 2491 4358 / 2446 0387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in)

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