The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed senior State Bank of India (SBI) officials to compensate a loyal customer for “blocking” his path to the strongroom.

Gevarghese Paul, a resident of Karaparamba here and a locker-holder with the bank’s main branch here for the past 22 years, realised the hard way that loyalty at times does not pay.

In a petition filed before the consumer court on May 10, 2013, Mr. Paul explained the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the employees during a visit to deposit some valuables in his locker.

He said he was proceeding to the strongroom after signing in the locker access register as requested by the officer in charge. He was stopped mid-way by the manager, who stated that he had not paid the locker rent.

Mr. Paul contended in the court that he had already paid a caution deposit. Besides, he had not received any intimation from the bank regarding the rent till that moment. The petition had arrayed the chief manager, manager of personal banking at the main branch here, and the general manager at the head office of the SBI as opposite parties.

‘Unfair trade practice’

“The opposite parties denied entry (to Mr. Paul) to the locker room and was taking undue interest in humiliating him in front of the staff and customers present there,” the forum quoted from Mr. Paul’s petition, which alleged “negligence, deficiency in service, and unfair trade practice” by the opposite parties.

Terming the conduct of the opposite parties, who remained absent from the forum hearings, as “arrogant,” the bench said there was no reason to disbelieve Mr. Paul’s version of the events transpired in the bank.

“Complainant (Mr. Paul) was also ready to pay the arrears amount after depositing the valuables in the locker. But they denied,” the January-22 order written by member L. Jyothikumar said.

Ordering the chief manager and the personal banking manager of SBI to pay a compensation of Rs.2,000 to Mr. Paul within a month, the forum said both officials were “jointly and severally liable for the unfair trade practice which is quite evident from the facts and circumstances and of available evidence of the case”.

The forum, however, exonerated the general manager from all liabilities in the case.

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