18 Jan 2016 18:24 IST

How to resolve ATM-related grievances

Be aware of your rights as a customer to get it redressed at the earliest

If a ‘no show' of cash from an ATM after swiping your card is not bad enough, your account being debited for the cash that you never withdrew is worse. And, if the ATM is not your bank's but another's, is the money as good as gone?

It was, for one customer. Let's call him Shom.

For nearly two years, he did not receive the ₹40,000 that was wrongfully debited to his account, even when the cash never came out of the machine. And this long wait was after reporting the matter to not one but both the banks — the one with which he had an account and the other whose ATM he had used.

Shom could have been more assertive, had he been aware of his rights as a customer.

Be aware of your rights

First, a reading of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mandate in this regard shows that it is enough if you lodge a complaint at the branch where you have the account linked with the ATM card. At every bank's ATM centre, a notice board explaining this, along with contact numbers of the help desk/contact person is expected to be put up.

Second, if Shom had lodged the complaint within 30 days of the transaction, the bank is mandated to resolve it within seven days (reduced from 12 days in 2010) of receiving the complaint.

If the bank fails to recredit the account within seven days, the customer is entitled to a compensation of ₹100 a day from the bank.

Shom could also have approached the banking ombudsman much earlier, had he known this.

Nevertheless, when Shom did go to the ombudsman after two years, documents presented by the bank whose ATM was used, clearly showed that the transaction was declined and cash was not dispensed.

The bank where Shom had an account had no other explanation for the delay except to say that the required information was not made available by the other bank despite e-mails.

Further probing by the ombudsman revealed that the bank had not made any effort to contact the other bank's nodal officer or other officers to obtain information. They had simply sent e-mails to the bank's ATM Switch Centre.

Considering this as a clear case of deficiency in customer service, Shom's bank was asked to pay the disputed amount and ₹10,000 as service gesture to the customer.

Moreover, if the recommendations of the Damodaran Committee on Customer Service in Banks (2011) are accepted, customers can well see their banks offering a temporary credit of the full amount.

After all, why should we suffer for no fault of ours? Don't we have the right to get the wrong debit of funds immediately reversed?