K. Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy

Refusal to pay value of travellers cheques lost by its customer draws flak

HYDERABAD: The A.P. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission rapped the American Express Bank (AEB), New Delhi, for refusing to pay up the value of travellers cheques that were lost by its customer.

In a verdict delivered recently, the commission ordered the bank to pay a compensation of Rs. 5,000 in addition to Rs. 2. 46 lakh, the value of the travellers cheques that were lost by Mohd. Ilyasuddin Mateen of Karwan.

The bank was also ordered to pay Rs. 2,000 towards court costs.

Cheques lost

Mr. Mateen bought the travellers cheques worth Rs. 2,46,750 in September 2002 from AEB through Smart Value Forex and Travels in the twin cities.

He lost the cheques while travelling in an autorickshaw in Hyderabad and immediately notified the bank and also the police.

The bank assured him that the matter would be notified world wide to prevent encashment of the cheques.

The bank directed him to submit a claim for refund of the money, but rejected the claim in November 2002 without citing any reason.

The customer then sent a legal notice in January 2003 and moved the Hyderabad District Consumer Forum-I, claiming his money with interest and a compensation of Rs. 5,000 along with court costs.

The service provider Smart Value was also made a respondent in the case. The bank, however, argued before the forum that the claim was a false one.

Incorrect information

Requesting the forum to dismiss the petition, the bank informed that the cheques were, in fact, encashed with a signature which resembled that of the customer.

The forum rejected the bank’s arguments and ordered it to refund Rs. 2,46,750 along with compensation and court costs.

Verdict challenged

The bank had challenged the verdict in the State Commission, which found that the bank had not only furnished incorrect information, but had harassed the customer by asking for myriad documents, which were not pertinent to the transaction.

It upheld the forum’s decision and asked the bank to pay up in four weeks.