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The Indian PM launched the integrated ombudsman scheme recently, which seeks to strengthen the grievance redress mechanism for consumers belonging to different regulated entities like banks, Non-banking Finance Companies and payment system operators. Now one can have a single point of reference to file complaints, track status, submit documents and receive feedback. This article is an effort to apprise all its readers about this newly launched integrated ombudsman scheme (RBI).
This scheme amalgamates three ombudsman schemes of the RBI. These schemes are as follows:
The scheme seeks to help in redressal of consumer complaints involving deficiency in services provided by RBI regulated entities, including banks, NBFCs and pre-paid instrument players, in case the grievance is not resolved to customers’ satisfaction or not replied within 30 days period.
The scheme also includes non-scheduled primary co-operative banks with a 50 crore and above deposit size. This scheme makes it One nation One Ombudsman approach and jurisdiction neutral.
Who is an Ombudsman?
Ombudsman refers to an appellate body which receives customer complaints if the financial institution doesn’t address the complaint within 30 days period. It may be noted that even if customers are not satisfied with the resolution or explanation provided by the financial institution, still they can approach the ombudsman.
In 1995 the banking ombudsman scheme was launched thereafter, it has went through 5 revisions and also forms the basis for the launch of the Ombudsman scheme for the NBFCs in 2018 and Ombudsman Scheme for Digital transactions in 2019. The present integrated scheme was made on the basis of the recommendations of the committee set up by the Reserve Bank to review the ombudsman scheme.
An Internal Working Group with 10 members (8 ombudsman, one officer each from the legal and consumer education and protection department) was made to have a detailed review of the Ombudsman Schemes of the RBI. The committee made some recommendations, with one of them being to converge the existing ombudsman schemes into a single integrated RBI Ombudsman Scheme. The three schemes evolved over time and had specific grounds of complaints which acted as a limiting factor and which led to uneven redress across the customers of different entities and comprised of different compensation structures.
In order to increase the transparency and consumer awareness, the committee had suggested to broad base the grounds of complaints and incorporate a detailed negative or exclusions list for rejection of the complaint.
The central theme of this scheme is based on One Nation-One Ombudsman. The executive director in charge of consumer education and protection department of the Reserve Bank will be the appellate authority under this scheme. It will have a portal, an email ID and one address for customers to lodge their complaints. This scheme has removed the need for jurisdiction of each ombudsman office. This scheme is jurisdiction neutral. Further, a centralized receipt as well as a processing centre has been set up in Chandigarh for handling of complaints in any language.
The responsibility of representing the regulated entity and providing the information relating to the complaints filed by customers against the regulated entity will be of the principal nodal officer in the rank of a General Manager in Public Sector Bank or equivalent. The regulated entity shall not have the right of appeal in case where an award is issued by the ombudsman against it for failure to furnish a satisfactory and timely information or document.
Moreover, a multi-lingual number shall provide relevant information on grievance redress and assistance for filing of complaints.
You can file a complaint with the Ombudsman by these ways:
The benefits of this scheme are laid down below:
No more you have to chase different institutions regulated by the RBI to resolve your financial grievance as now you will have a single point of reference to file complaints, track status, submit documents and receive feedback. The Integrated Ombudsman Scheme (RBI) seeks to provide cost-free redress of customer complaints with deficiency in services by entities regulated by the RBI, if not resolved to the satisfaction of customers within a period of 30 days.
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