Friday, August 29, 2008

Dictatorial and Illegal refusal of IDBI Bank to solve complaints

As an activist and as the Chairperson of Consumer Complaints
Cell(CCCell), Marol, Mumbai I had submitted various complaints of the
Banks' small account holders of Marol branch; viz; for increasing
paperwork, deposits in triplicate pay in slips, asking elaborate
personal details for each deposit, frequent account no changes
converting the existing 4/5 digit numbers to 16/15/14 digits (all
entries in English), absence of any designated "help
officer/desk" at the branch, coded /non-decipherable entries of
deposits in the pass books, absence of grievance redressal procedure on
the notice board, absence service charge details in transparent
manner etc etc.as required by the various circulars-guidelines,
directions issues by the RBI from time to time. as back as in Dec.
2007..Initially, these were submitted to the branch Manager . Since he
was unable to redress or reply, these were forwarded to the CDM, IDBI
Bank with a copy to G M- Customer Service , RBI and The All India Bank
Depositors Assciation (Mumbai ) .AIBDA supported the same for suitable
redressal . We received a reply from one Ms. Balwani – Head
customer services at the central office of IDBI replied in complete
denial mode, vague assurances and elusive or no justification but
maintaining that the Bank is following all the guidelines issued by the
RBI.

As the complaints/grievances could not be redressed, the issues were
escalated by us , by the Customer Service Head- R BI and AIBDA to the
Department of Banking Operations and Develpement (DOBOD), who in turn
also referred the matter to The Banking Ombudsman –RBI with copies
marked to CMD IDBI Bank. While the Banking Ombudsman, remained silent
and unresponsive, a protracted correspondence from me and the denial
mode replies of the CS- IDBI followed . While the Dy. GM DOBOD denied
that there were no such guidelines issued by RBI to under which the
Bank was following such practices causing immense inconvenience to the
small account holders, the Ombudsman still kept stoic silence.
Thereafter IDBI CS head,asked for specific cases/proof of any such
"anti customer" practices with individual account numbers etc.
Two specific customer complaints, one about the delay in renewal of
existing FD and asking for an elaborate form to be filled in again
as an harassment tactic,and other of "Intelligible entries in the
pass book, with proof of Xerox copies were then furnished to them, with
copies to all RBI authorities.

On receipt of the same, Dy GM DOBOD RBI wrote a letter to the CMD,
IDBI Bank on June 24, 08 pointing out the specific directive
instructions of RBI to all banks, concerning two vital areas amongst
others,viz: "….To avoid inscrutable entries in pass books and to
ensure that brief intelligible particulars are invariably entered in
pass books/statements of account".

Second vital area was pointing out a recent circular which
"….advised banks to ensure that a suitable mechanism exists for
receiving and addressing complaints from customers/constituents with
specific emphasis on resolving such complaints fairly and expeditiously
regardless of the source of ghe complaints.". Lastly, the DY G M
RBI wrote " Keeping in view the above instructions, we request you
to suitably redress the grievances of the Consumer Complaints Cell,
Mumbai.".

Instead of the CMD to whom this "Compliance" letter was sent,
the same IDBI Head C CC, sent a reply, which I/We received on 17 th
July. It was as usual ,vague, evasive and in denial mode. Here are
excerpts of some interestingly specified replies , "…the bank
has taken up the matter with concerned department and ensure that the
system gives intelligible details to the customers" (This accepts
as if the IDBI systems department is not under IDBI CMD ) "…
that the bank has a robust redressal mechanism and customer grievance
redressal policy is also in place". But what outraised us was the
statement dished out by the said CC Head , relevant portions of
which are :

" In respect of these two mentioned cases we do not find they have
been referred to the Branch" This was a white lie. But the
subsequent statement even challenged the bonafieds of this Consumer
Complaints Cell by asking "… whether it is registered (where?) and
registration number of the same. Pl. also confirm if the customers
(Above two?) have authorized you to take up their complaints with the
bank and the relevant authority letters"

On 28 th July, I as the chairperson of CCCell, wrote back to CMD IDBI
. I put the relevant portion in brief .That the referred grievances
were not taken up with the Branch level officers was a white lie. The
undersigned ( My self) had personally met an officer and the branch
Head asking for specific clarification in the above referred
complaints and specific cases; and that the officers had expressed
their inability to help and explain the queries or redress the
grievances. Then I also mentioned the names of specific officer and the
branch head to whom approaches were made. As for the registration of an
voluntary organisation working absolutely free and without any
obligation of membership,for the people, there is no specific
requirement of registration under any law. Yes, I /we have taken
AUTHORIZATION LETTERS from the bank customers to take up their
grievances /problems with the bank and Xerox copies of such letters
were enclosed for bank record. Further that the undersigned is well
known in the bank as well as the people of Mumbai as a Consumer
Activist and the present /past bank officers have redressed grievances
put forth by me/us in the past.. that so far the bank branch has not
made any efforts to redress the complained grievances ,by explaining
queries or rectifying the systems. CMD was specifically requested to
do the needful and also take appropriate disciplinery action against
those defaulting officers of the branch who are named to whom the
approach was made .The copies (with enclosures) were marked to all the
concerned RBI officials ; with a request that if the bank still fails
to solve/redress the customer grievances /problems; then the
regulating authority/Ombudsman must initiate an enquiry to ascertain
the veracity of the above unsolved customer grievances/complaints for
which myself/CCCell are ready for scrutiny.

While we are still waiting for the reply of RBI authorities, I/we have
received a reply dt.Aug. 12, from the IDBI CC head ,against whom an
action for shielding the negligent officers was asked for, replied to
us that since CCCell is not registered , complaints of customers
taken by it, can not be redressed and that I/can direct the customers
who are having any grievance against the bank, may approach the bank
directly for redressal .In other words the bank will not redress the
grievances even if I am or CCCell is authorized by customers. This
amounts to denial of a fundamental right of consumers to authorize
some one to represent them. Even the consumer Courts have recognized
such a right of a consumer in the consumer Protection Act. Even the
instruction letter of Dy GM DBOD RBI says that the bank should redress
the customer grievance regardless of the source from whom it is
received. But the bank is stoically refusing to recognise this
fundamental right now just sitting on a false prestige of not
bruising the egos of defaulting officers. The top management must not
allow this happen I am also an account holder of this branch and as per
this ruling, as an individual account holder I can get the redressal of
these grievances for my self. But I am not doing that as I am concerned
for bank customers at large who are suffering and has to fight for all.

While I /We are taking this up with regulatory authorities, AIBDA,
Ombudsman etc. for instituting an investigation in the entire matter
and remedies available under RTI will also be pursued; I call upon all
the karmayogis, people for social Cause, SS Global members , NGOs and
all others who agree with the cause , I/Cell is fighting as a matter of
principle and right, to also voice their opinion and support so that a
cumulative moral pressure is built up for the DICTATOR BANK. You may
voice your opinion on the bank website www.idbi.com
and the sebsite of www.rbi.org.in
or may write on the following addresses :-

Chairman & Managing Director—IDBI Bank Ltd.

IDBI Tower, WTC complex, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai 400005

OR the G M Customer service Department, 1 st flr. Amar bldg. Sir P>M
Road,

Mumbai 1 OR the G M _ Department of Banking Operations and
Development ,Central Office RBI ,WTC complex, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai
400005

But please, also ensure that you mark a copy of your opinion/support to
us on our emailed:
cccell@hotmil.com OR
mohansiroya@hotmail.com .

Mohan Siroya

Chairperson—Consumer Complaints Cell




yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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