Got a problem with your bank? Just go ahead and demand better service, says Dr KC Chakraborty, deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI). "Banks cannot deny customers service. If they make excuses, the customers should put their foot down and demand their due," he said, while speaking at the first anniversary function of Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai on Saturday.
Dr Chakrabarty said that it was up to the customer to be more vigilant and demand their rights. "Instead of running to the regulator every time something goes wrong, the customer should approach the bank directly. A bank is bound to give him service, and people have to demand it from them. Do not patronise those banks who do not do things right, no matter how big the bank might be. In case things really do not work out, change your bank", the deputy governor of the RBI said.
He criticised banks that refused to allow a customer to open an account citing the Know Your Customer (KYC) protocol. He said KYC was a set of guidelines and should not come in the way of giving services. The issue is pertinent with regard to many banks refusing to accept ration cards as identity proof. Dr Chakrabarty agreed that it was a pressing problem, especially for rural customers. However, with the market being flooded with bogus ration cards, many institutions have stopped accepting this as a precaution. He said, "Banks cannot refuse a customer who wants to open a new account. If they cannot accept ration cards as one of the proofs, then they should suggest and accept alternatives which are valid."
A packed audience at the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research listened attentively to the animated address by the RBI deputy governor.
Dr Chakraborty also spoke about signature forgery and ATM frauds. According to the existing process, in case a customer complains that money has been withdrawn from his account without his consent and through fraudulent means, it is up to him to prove this charge. "It should be the other way round", he said. "It should be up to the bank to clarify that the money is not drawn fraudulently."
The RBI has asked all banks to reimburse customers the amounts that may be wrongfully debited on account of failed ATM transactions, within a maximum period of 12 days from the date of receipt of the customer's complaint. Failure to re-credit the customer account within the stipulated period would result in the bank having to pay Rs100 a day to the aggrieved customer, the deputy governor said.
But the onus is on the customer as well, to understand the limitations. Customer service is a critical but often misunderstood area, he said. "Unfortunately, in India, the customer expects world class service with zero payment," he remarked. While the bank must be empathetic to the customer, the move should be reciprocal. "It is the duty of society at large to sensitise citizens to each others situation, so there is effective service delivery," Dr Chakrabarty said.