Banks can’t compel people to open FD accounts

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Banks should not compel accountholders to open fixed deposit accounts while renting safe deposit lockers. Utmost they can charge three-year rental in advance, Banking Ombudsman A. Madasamy said on Thursday.

Talking to reporters here, he said that not many depositors were aware of this provision, and they ended up changing the bank.

“Such incidents can be brought to our notice, and the goal of the ombudsman is to redress the grievances of customers in an inexpensive, expeditious, fair and reasonable manner.”

Mr. Madasamy said: “Banks might have some limitation while granting loans. However, they cannot refuse loans to students or small and medium enterprises, as has been reported in the media. After collecting all details, banks should lend credit in 15 days. Refusal to accept loan applications or delay in sanction or disbursement will attract our attention.”

To create awareness of the banking ombudsman scheme 2006, Mr. Madasamy is planning to conduct camps in rural areas in the next six months. Complaints can be made to the ombudsman in person and by mail or email ( >bochennai@rbi.org.in.) Before that, customers have to make a representation to their banks.

“However, the ombudsman will not entertain complaints filed through lawyers, cases in which verdicts have been awarded, or cases that are in court. We will definitely send a written communication in all the cases,” said Ishan Shukla, banking ombudsman secretary.

Complaints can be made on grounds of deficiency in the operation of savings bank account, delay in or denial of opening and closing of accounts, delay in collection or encashment of cheques, non-observance of RBI guidelines in the operation of ATM debit card and credit card and refusal to accept notes and coins in small denomination.

3,512 complaints received

In the six months to December 31, the ombudsman received 3,512 complaints, most of them pertaining to educational loans and credit cards. On an average, the ombudsman receives 700-725 complaints a month, and takes nearly 90 days to redress the grievances. As on December 31, the ombudsman had 427 pending cases.

“There is definitely an increase in the number of complaints. This shows that the people are aware of our institution. But make sure that complaint is lodged with us in one year from the date of representation,” Mr. Madasamy said.

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