Every complaint that goes before the Banking Ombudsman is put through the following checks to determine whether the case can be taken up or not.
The first in the check list of course is whether the complaint comes under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
The second question is whether it is a ‘first resort complaint’—in other words whether the consumer has first tried approaching the bank for redress of his complaint.
The third is whether the complaint has been filed within the prescribed time limit — that is one year from the receipt of a reply from the bank.
The other issues that will be considered are (a) whether the complaint has been handled by the Ombudsman before, (b) whether it is pending before any other tribunal or forum or law court and (c) whether there has been any decision on the dispute by any other court or tribunal or forum.
A large number of complaints get rejected at this stage simply because the consumer is unaware of some of the conditions governing the filing of complaint before the Ombudsman.
One of the most important pre-requisites is that the consumer first try the in-house complaint redressaly forum provided by the bank. It is only on failing to get any satisfactory response that he or she can avail of the redress mechanism provided by the Ombudsman.
Unfortunately, there is not much consumer education
on this front and as a result, many consumers end up with a rejection slip from the Ombudsman.
Of course, they can re-send the complaint after completing the formalities and in some cases, the Ombudsmen say that while rejecting the complaint, they also send a copy of the complaint as well as the rejection letter to the bank concerned and some banks do respond at this stage and sort out the problem.
But there is no statistical data on how many such cases get resolved in this fashion.
In 2007-2008, as many as 7,950 complaints were sent back because they were ‘first resort complaints.
This number constituted 40 per cent of the total
number of 19,735 complaints rejected.
The number more than doubled the next year — 18,187 complaints were ‘first resort ‘complaints.
The total number of rejected complaints too went up phenomenally, indicating lack of consumer awareness about the scheme.
The total number of such rejected complaints during 2008-2009 was 43,115.
So always remember to seek redress from the bank first. And when you do send in your complaint, give your complete address and contact details. Consumers also need to remember that they cannot file the complaint before the consumer forum as well as the Ombudsman. If you are unhappy with the decision of the Ombudsman, then you can reject it and file a case before the consumer court but you cannot file the complaint simultaneously before both the forums.
Amit Joshi: My complaint to the Ombudsman on a home loan issue has been rejected by the Ombudsman on the ground that I have not approached the bank first. Now, I have sent several e-mails to the bank, but the bank is not responding. Even my e-mails have bounced back.
What do I do?
Send a hard copy of the complaint to the bank’s Nodal officer.
The RBI has mandated that every bank nominate a nodal officer for redress of consumer complaints.
You can get the contact details of the Nodal officer from the bank. Send your complaint by registered post, acknowledgement due.
If the bank does not respond within a month, re-send your complaint to the Ombudsman, but while doing so, make sure that you show proof of having complained to the bank first. And always remember to give your complete address and contact details. So also that of the bank.
Do you have any problems? Send in your queries to