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‘Volume of complaints under Ombudsman Schemes up’

The volume of complaints received under the Ombudsman Schemes has gone up by 22.27 per cent on an annualised basis to stand at 3,03,107 as at March-end 2021, according to the Annual Report of Ombudsman Schemes, 2020-21.

Till November 11, 2021, there were three Ombudsman Schemes: Banking Ombudsman Scheme (BOS), 2006 Ombudsman Scheme for NBFCs (OSNBFC), 2018 Ombudsman Scheme for Digital Transactions (OSDT), 2019.

With effect from November 12, 2021, a Reserve Bank-Integrated Ombudsman Scheme 2021 (RB-IOS), adopting a “One Nation – One Ombudsman” approach for all customers of RBI regulated entities was launched. The Annual Report of Ombudsman Schemes for the transition year 2020-21 has been prepared for the nine-month period, (July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021), in alignment with the change in the Financial Year of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from ‘July-June’ to ‘April-March’ with effect from July 1, 2020.

During the transition year July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, the 22 Offices of Banking Ombudsman (OBOs) received 2,73,204 complaints, compared with 3,08,630 complaints during the previous year (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020).

Complaints related to (a) ATM/ debit cards and (b) mobile/ electronic banking (c) credit cards (d) failure to meet commitments and (e) non-observance of Fair Practices Code (FPC) were the top five grounds of complaints received at the OBOs.

The share of ATM/debit card complaints, mobile/electronic banking and credit card complaints to total complaints received during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 stood at 17.40 per cent (21.97 per cent during July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020), 12.98 per cent (13.38 per cent) and 12.36 per cent (9.30 per cent), respectively.

Complaints relating to credit cards, failure to meet commitments, and Direct Selling Agents (DSAs) and recovery agents increased during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 vis-à-vis July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, with complaints related to DSAs and recovery agents registering a surge of over 60.66 per cent.

The report said disposal rate improved significantly from 92.36 per cent during July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 to 96.67 per cent during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, a five-year high.

This is despite the volume of complaints handled being higher than the previous year on an annualized basis, and the human resources remaining the same, which can be attributed to end-to-end digitization of complaint processing in Complaint Management System (CMS).

The average cost of handling a complaint under the BOS decreased by 33.46 per cent, from ₹2,412 during July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 to ₹1,605 during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

The reduction in cost was on account of the increased volume of complaints handled by the same human resources, supported by the end-to-end digitization of complaint processing in CMS.

NBFC Ombudsman

The receipt of complaints at Offices of the NBFC Ombudsman (ONBFCOs) in four metro centres — Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi — stood at 26,957 during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 increasing from 19,432 complaints received during July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Thus, an increase of 38.72 per cent was witnessed, despite the current period being short by a quarter.

Complaints related to non-adherence to FPC constituted 54.75 per cent of the complaints received, followed by those related to non-observance of RBI directions (11.13 per cent), and levy of charges without notice (9.44 per cent).

The disposal rate stood at 95.51 per cent during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 as compared to 95.34 per cent July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Digital transactions

The number of complaints received at the Offices of Ombudsman for Digital Transactions (OODTs), which function from all the existing 22 OBOs, rose from 2,481 during July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 to 2,946 during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Fund transfers/ Unified Payments Interface/ Bharat Bill Payment System/ Bharat QR Code, mobile/ electronic fund transfer and non-reversal of debit due to wrong beneficiary transfer by System Participant were the top three grounds of complaint under OSDT, with share in total complaints at 51.15 per cent, 22.57 per cent, and 8.18 per cent, respectively

The disposal rate of complaints stood at 99.13 per cent during July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

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