GUWAHATI, Aug 22 � Bank customers in Assam and the rest of the Northeast are yet to make much use of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006 compared to their counterparts in other parts of the country. Across the region, a modest number of complaints have been registered against certain services rendered by Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Primary Cooperative Banks which are covered by the Scheme.
In Assam a total of 536 complaints were registered during the period 2011-12. Customers in Tripura made 48 complaints, while only four were received from Mizoram. The corresponding figures for cities such as New Delhi, Kanpur or Mumbai are substantially more. This was stated by BB Sangma, Banking Ombudsman for Assam and six States of the Northeast, at a press conference held in the Reserve Bank of India office today.
Sangma said that the reasons could be attributed to several factors, which include difficulty in accessibility, cultural traits of the region�s people who are not used to making complaints, or better customer service provided by banks in the region.
Over the years, the number of complaints is on the rise. In 1996 only 37 complaints were received which went up to 584 during 2010-11. However, when asked, Sangma said, �As an Ombudsman I would like to have more complaints coming in.�
Expressing satisfaction over the handling of complaints by various banks, he said that due to strict mechanisms in place, the scenario involving customer service is improving. �Some of the nodal officers in banks are even becoming proactive, as a result of which complaints are being redressed at the bank itself.�
The breakup of disposal of cases shows that during 2011-12 there were seven awards, 426 conciliation/settled, while the number of rejection was 289. The total disposal of cases during 2010-11 was 722.
Data analysis has shown that the largest percentage of cases (nearly 27.5) relate to credit cards and ATM cum debit cards. Around 20 per cent of the complaints registered are about deposit accounts. Many customers have also reported grievances on general loans.
The largest number of complaints � 45.69 per cent � has been received from customers in urban areas, whereas complaints received from rural areas account for 19.38 per cent.
To inform people about the provisions under the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, 2006, the Office of the Ombudsman regularly organizes awareness campaigns in different venues targeting people from different backgrounds, including personnel from the banking sector.