Banks must pay Rs100 a day penalty for delay in reimbursement for failed ATM transactions

In the event of a failed ATM transaction and the amount being debited from a customer’s account, the bank must reimburse the customer within 12 days of such a complaint. Otherwise, it is liable to pay a penalty. Hundreds of such cases happen daily, but very few people are aware about this RBI rule and most banks are happy to ignore it. Sharad Phadke, a Pune resident, used the RTI Act to force Bank of India to pay up

While the ATM facility is a boon to us in our busy lifestyle, it can sometimes be a bane if the transaction fails when you are trying to operate it. Sometimes, the amount is debited from your account, although in actuality you have not received the cash.

Many of us may not be aware that banks in several cases do not restore that amount to your account within 12 days of the technical snag and this is mandatory according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines. They audaciously take several weeks or months to do so and do not compensate you the penal amount of Rs100 per day, which they are liable to bear.

Pune-based senior citizen and entrepreneur Sharad Phadke has taken up the issue with a missionary zeal for the common good, after he was a victim of this apparent cheating by the Bank of India.

On 18 October 2009, his ATM transaction of Rs1,000 failed, so he tried again. The second time he withdrew cash. However, the failed transaction was also debited from his account in the Bank of India. On the same day, he lodged an online complaint with the Bank of India.

But nothing happened until 1st December, a good 40 days after the failed transaction. He made another complaint, yet the Bank of India did not pay heed. So he visited the bank personally and complained to the official on 1 January 2010.

While doing research on the Internet, he stumbled upon a circular of the RBI on its website, on 7 January 2010. He was surprised to find that the RBI under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007 had made it mandatory for all banks to restore the failed transaction amount of the customer within 12 days, or pay penalty at the rate of Rs100 per day to him.

The circular directive from the RBI dated 17 July 2009, under Section 18 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007, states:

The Reserve Bank of India has been receiving a number of complaints, regarding the non-adherence of banks to the instructions stipulated therein. Further, it has come to our notice that different banks have put in place different cut-off limits for permitting cash withdrawals from/for other bank customers. These issues have been comprehensively reviewed by the Reserve Bank of India and all banks may follow the following directives:

> Banks are required to reimburse to the customers, the amount wrongfully debited on account of failed ATM transaction within a maximum period of 12 days from the date of receipt of customer complaint.

> For any failure to re-credit the customer’s account within 12 working days from the date of receipt of the complaint, the bank shall pay compensation of Rs100 per day to the aggrieved customer. The compensation shall be credited to the customer’s account automatically, without any claim from the customer, on the same day when the bank affords the credit for the failed ATM transaction.

> The issuer bank is entitled to claim such compensation paid to the customer from the acquirer bank if the delay is attributed to the latter. By the same logic, the ATM network operators shall compensate the banks for any delay on their part.

> Each bank shall present a quarterly review of ATM transactions to its board of directors, indicating inter alia, the quantum of penalties paid, reasons thereof and the actions taken to avoid recurrence of such instances. A copy of the note along with observations of the board shall be forwarded to the chief general manager, Reserve Bank of India, Department of Payment & Settlement Systems, Mumbai.

Armed with this circular, Mr Phadke dashed off another official complaint to the Bank of India, Laxmi Road branch. On 7 February 2010 the amount of Rs1,000 was credited. Mr Phadke asked the bank what happened to the compensation for the 65 days delay? Their replies were evasive.

Frustrated, Mr Phadke decided to invoke the right and filed an RTI application at the Bank of India’s head office, in Mumbai, on 7th February itself.

His application read as follows:

“I lodged a complaint on 18 October 2009 for wrong or failed transaction. The maximum period stipulated by the RBI is 12 working days and that ended on 3 November 2009. The wrongfully debited account was corrected by reverse entry on 7 January 2010. The delay from your side was 65 days.”

Mr Phadke also attached a copy of the RBI circular and asked for the following information:

“(a) What action have you taken against the person who is responsible for this delay in ATM section of HO? Give the name and designation of the person who is responsible for the delay.

(b) Why my account was not credited on that day, with compensation? Who is the person responsible for this type of illegal act on the part of the bank? Supply me the name and designation of the person acting against the rules laid down by the government and / or the Reserve Bank of India.

(c) In how many cases till this date, that is from 17 July 2009 to 31 January 2010, was this law violated?

(d) Supply me the full list of customers at present, in numbers, in excel format, according to your regions and branches (i) who have not been paid within 12 working days (ii) who have not been paid compensation and (iii) who have been paid compensation.

(e) What corrective action have you taken from your side to avoid this type of delays?

Surprisingly, on 24th February, the compensation amount of Rs6,500 was credited to his account. “The mere exercise of filing an RTI application put the bank under pressure and it immediately released the money,” says a beaming Mr Phadke. He urges citizens not to hesitate to file an RTI application, which has become a non-violent tool to demand accountability and transparency from state and central government departments, by a mere stroke of the pen.

Thereafter, On 13 March 2010, he received a reply, stating that, “Although the complaint was lodged on 16.10.09 and it was downloaded from the website on 20.10.2009, ATM Reconciliation Team could not attend the complaint in time. Later on when ATM Reconciliation Team had taken up the complaint for redressal, the same was settled within 12 days.”

As for the customer list of those who have been paid and who have not been paid compensation, the bank took shelter under Section 8 (1) (d) and (2) of the Act that exempts disclosure of an individual’s information. The reply stated that “furnishing the details as required by you not only would violate commercial confidence, but would also cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the said individuals. Hence, it is exempted from disclosure…”

However, the Bank of India, HO, Mumbai, later replied that there were 53 people whose ATM transactions had failed in the period and the compensation paid was to the tune of Rs1,73,500 (this includes all branches of Bank of India all over the country in 2009-10). Shockingly though, in a reply to a subsequent RTI query, the bank said that it paid Rs2,90,300 between 2009 and 2011. Only four cases were registered in 2010-11, which would mean that each of these four cases were paid a compensation on an average of Rs30,000! This is, perhaps, only the tip of the iceberg of how callous banks are about reimbursing customers the amount debited in failed ATM transactions.

As for the bank using Section 8, RTI activist and expert Vijay Kumbhar vehemently states that, “These sections do not apply here as Mr Phadke is only asking for the list wherein the information pertains to who the penalty has been paid or not paid. Hence, it does not come under fiduciary relationship under Section 8—he is certainly not asking individual income tax details. In fact, making such a list public would bring in more accountability in banks regarding this grave issue.”

Subsequently, Mr Phadke requested inspection of files under Section 4, for the list of customers at the Laxmi Road branch of the Bank of India who have been paid as well as not paid for negligence of the bank, in not restoring the failed ATM transaction amount, but this was also denied to him.

Undeterred by this unsatisfactory information and denial for inspection of files, Mr Phadke filed an appeal to the Appellate Authority as well as central information commissioner, Satyananda Mishra. The hearing through video-conferencing took place on 4 November 2010. The CIC (chief information commissioner) directed the Bank of India headquarters in Mumbai as follows:

“The PIO should provide some more information…and allow the appellant to inspect relevant records, as available…”

The CIC also took this opportunity to direct the PIO “to assemble all records and documents, including circulars and guidelines relating to the various proactive disclosures at the branch, in terms of the Section 4 (1) of the RTI Act, at the Laxmi Branch and to invite the appellant to inspect the same on any mutually convenient day within five working days from the receipt of this order. We expect that the records, documents, circulars and guidelines, etc, at the branch level will be arranged item-wise against each of the 16 items listed in that section, before placing it for inspection. However, if no such disclosure has been made at the branch level, the CPIO shall clearly inform the appellant accordingly.”

Besides his own efforts, Mr Phadke put up his case on the and a former bank official and RTI activist, JP Shah, also invoked the RTI on this issue with other banks like IDBI, Bank of Maharashtra, ICCI and Bank of Baroda. While the ICCI stated it is a private bank and does not come under the jurisdiction of the RTI Act, the others provided information. From the replies it became clear that failed ATM transaction were not rare and that banks not paying compensation was also not rare.

Mr Phadke made a series of RTI applications, one of them to the RBI, asking it for copies of quarterly reports of ATM transactions submitted by banks and about the action it had taken against those banks that have not sent such reports. The RBI replied that there is no time frame for banks to send these reports and it is expected of the banks to adhere to the guidelines that were sent to them in the form of a circular. However, thanks to Mr Phadke’s efforts, the RBI has sent all banks two more circulars on 22/03/2011 asking for information in detail.

Mr Phadke says that more and more citizens must be alert about what happens to their money post-ATM failed transactions and not allow banks to get away without paying the penalty. Citizens can seek help from Mr Phadke by writing to him at [email protected].

(Vinita Deshmukh is a senior editor, author and convener of Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She can be reached at [email protected].)

TechEdc 12
5 years ago
I have Got successful credited with the failed transaction amount after 40days From Boi but still not got uptil the interest whats the procedure now can u plz tell
Dinesh Chanchalani
1 decade ago
This is absolutely superb work by Mr Phadke. Hats off, Sir!
sundaram bashyam
1 decade ago
Really a very good article. I wonder why this has not been given the much needed publicity. Atleast now, those who read this article should inform their colleagues/friends/relatives, about this.
Replied to sundaram bashyam comment 1 decade ago
I have circulated this, along with comments, to 73 persons thro' email. These are rare pieces, must be circulated by us.
w srinivas rao
1 decade ago
good article and well done sir the effort you have taken for the people and yourself.
A Kumar
1 decade ago
An excellent article with trail of actions which becomes nessary for many of us.

I have similar questions about the Electronic Funds Transfer Service ( NEFT). While there seem to be guuidelines on how the banks should handle it, there seem to be no guidelines in regard to the the time needed to credit the beneficiary account.
For example if my account is debited at 9 Am when should the beneficiary account be credited? What happens if it is not credited the same day? or the next day? On whom does the onus lie?

I am asking these questions only because of some real issues facted.

I hope Money life team can throw some light on these?
1 decade ago
Sri Sharad Phadke ji, it is a great job done by you and an eye opener to many bank customers like you who have suffered with the mismanagement of bankers and the Utilisation of RTI ACT. You are a real DESH BAKTH and congratulations to you.
D.N.RAO, Hyderabad
Sharad Phadke
Replied to D N RAO comment 1 decade ago
Mr. Karira is my guru, who happens to be also from Hyderabad. With his help also I could do this job.
Sharad Phadke
Replied to D N RAO comment 1 decade ago
Thanks. Apart from good words and thanks people must give information with them which can of my help
You should remember case of Krishna and Shishupal and you should help with one point also.
rahul jain
1 decade ago
atm transaction
1 decade ago
Thanks for the informormation. RBI rules must be to insist all banks to prominantly display this in their ATM centre.
Sancia Sequeira
1 decade ago
Thank you Mr. Phadke for enlightening me on the course of redressal. Two of my cheques deposited on 31/3/2011 in the BOI ATM at Opera House are still untraceable. At least I know where to head if my complaints to the Bank Heads draw a blank.
Sharad Phadke
Replied to Sancia Sequeira comment 1 decade ago
There has to be some procedure to be followed while collecting the cheques from ATM center.
Ask for rules and regulations made, process set till the clearance of the cheques, Responsibility and Accountability defined and set for this collection.
Name of the person who was assigned for this duty on that particular period. List of all record maintained while collecting the cheques. Action taken report on my complaints on so and so dates.
If no action is taken the reasons on record. and many things.
Mail your application under RTI Act, I shall correct according to my knowledge and help you if possible.
Deepak Khemani
1 decade ago
Great Going Mr Phadke, please share the copy of this RBI circular or Moneylife could put it up along with this article which can be used as a reference.
Keep it up sir and you surely deserve the compensation you received from the Bank.
Sharad Phadke
Replied to Deepak Khemani comment 1 decade ago
If you visit RBI web it is in common man section right hand side of the page. The link is:
Deepak R Khemani
Replied to Sharad Phadke comment 1 decade ago
Thanks Sir, Appreciate it.
K B Patil
1 decade ago
The simplest thing would be for RBI to have ads in all leading newspapers so that this fact is widely publicised. This fact should also be displayed prominently at all ATMs. This would be the simplest and most effective way to enlighten bank customers.
Venkatesh Parasuram
1 decade ago
Mr. Phadke, appreciate you effort to get this to the notice of common man. I shall also make sure it reaches all the people in my contact and also request them to share the information which is never disclosed or mentioned by the bank. I suggest if it can be taken further with RBI to direct the banks to place these on their ATM Centers..

K B Patil
1 decade ago
One matter of concern is that the new private banks are more intent on milking the customer. For instance, I had occassion to get my bank statements from one PSU bank and a reputed private bank. The manager in the PSU bank signed and handed me the statement in no time. In case of the private bank, the statement (as per procedure) is supposed to take five working days. For these banks, efficiency is what suits them and not their customers.
1 decade ago
Banks are not even bothered about this-and the foreign banks make it amply clear in words as well as by their conduct they are above the law of the land and do not care fot the Banking Regulation Act or RBI, etc. The proof is-not one account holder can ever meet any manager in a foreign bank, a sryle being followed by many Indian banks. This is clear from the websites of the Banks-not one sigle e-mail contact address of the CEO/CMD is ever given, nor is the relevant branch's thereby debarring any aggrieved customer from making any complaint. The Indian Bankers' Assn. is also like this-they are unapproachable, sds ids the central bank of the country-RBI. Mr. Phadke is an esception, but in fact thousands of peoplr suffer everyday in India on account of defective ATM's and gross deficiency of service of the Banks.
Sharad Phadke
Replied to Bidup comment 1 decade ago
I am not exception. I took the matter till end which people avoid.
For your rights you have to fight. Even people are not willing to to give failed transaction details to help me!
I was not asking details to take away there money but to fight for masses but I found people with failed transaction "did not" gave me any details but were happy on getting there money back.
1 decade ago
Superb Phadke, You are true Indian.
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