Meet convened by RBI-constituted panel on customer service

Banks should be transparent about the charges levied by them for various services. Banks should not levy handling charges for handling cash. Vacancies in banks should be filled in order to provide better service to the customers. The staff manning the front office counters should be properly trained, especially in computer operations, in order to provide speedy service and reduce the waiting time of customers.

The above were some of the views expressed by customers at a meeting convened by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-constituted Committee on Customer Service in Banks here on Wednesday.

L. Gandhi, treasurer, Vellore District Small and Tiny Industries Association, Ranipet urged the committee to recommend an increase in the sanctioning limit of banks to a level above Rs.20 lakh to process the needs of the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). At present, the branch managers have powers to sanction loans only up to a limit of Rs.20 lakh, and this did not help the MSMEs in getting finance for working capital. Under the present cumbersome procedures in getting loans of amounts exceeding Rs.20 lakh, it took six months to one year to get the loan sanctioned, as a result of which the MSMEs were forced to get finance from external sources. He also requested the committee to increase the number of days permitted for a borrower to start repayment to avoid the financed assets being declared as non-performing asset (NPA) from 90 days to 300 days since the MSMEs in general did not get their payments on time.

Muthuswamy, executive committee member of the BHEL Ancillaries Association, Ranipet pleaded for an increase in the limits of credit insurance provided by the Credit Guarantee Corporation to MSMEs to enable the BHEL ancillaries to increase their production to match the increasing supply requirements of BHEL whose volume of production has increased ten-fold over the years.

S. Soundararajan of the Vellore District Distributors Association said that there were more than 1700 bunkwalas doing retail business in Vellore district, and they would be remitting only cash in the banks and not cheques. Levying handling charges on them would eat away their profits. Therefore, the committee should recommend the abolition of handling charges.

Reddiar, president of the Pensioners Association, requested the committee to recommend to the banks to fill vacancies to provide better service to the customers, especially the pensioners. He wanted the banks to post a staff member exclusively to furnish details of pension payment to pensioners.

M. Vengadasubbu, president, Tamil Nadu Hotels Association wanted the committee to convene meetings regularly to educate the customers on the various products and facilities provided by the banks.

Swaminathan, Regional Manager, Indian Overseas Bank, Vellore said that the counter staff constitute the heart beat of the banks, so much so that if a person manning the counter provides good service, the customer gets a good impression about the bank, and if he is indifferent, the customer gets and spreads a bad impression about the bank.

John, District Coordinator, State Bank of India said that the SBI is devising strategies aimed at limiting the need for the customer to visit the bank to make transactions.

S. Gopalakrishnan, former Banking Ombudsman and a member of the committee appealed to the bankers to acknowledge and correct mistakes whenever customers pointed out mistakes. Ninety per cent of the complaints would be solved if the clarifications sought by customers were given immediately.

Earlier at an interaction with members of women's self-help groups at the Microsate Branch of Indian Bank in Gandhinagar, some of the members narrated how they were cheated by persons who promised to provide double the money for the deposits made with them.

M.S. Sundara Rajan, former Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank and a member of the committee stressed the need for educating the poor people against the dangers of depositing money with unauthorised persons.

  • Committee urged to recommend abolition of cash handling charges
  • Plea to post staff member exclusively to furnish details to pensioners