How to improve customer service at ATM kiosks?

With the proliferation of ATMs and corporates starting white-label ATMs, there is bound to be considerable deterioration in customer service. Therefore, preventive and punitive steps are required to be taken by the RBI before it goes out of hand

As per the reports that appeared in Business Line of 10th April, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has, in a survey of usage of automated teller machines (ATMs), found several deficiencies in service at the kiosks, and accordingly asked banks to take steps to set right the deficiencies observed. But it is surprising that RBI has not thought it fit to publish the results of the survey in their website so far, nor has it made known as to what instructions had been given to the banks in this regard, though it has considerable impact on the banking public.
 

Deficiencies observed according to the RBI survey:

  1. Many ATMs have often insufficient cash and hence reject request of the customer particularly during holidays.
     

  2. The ATMs booths do not display contact details for lodging complaints whenever the customer finds difficulty in withdrawing cash.
     

  3. ATM identification numbers are not being displayed at the ATM center. Every ATM should have unique identification number boldly displayed so that it becomes easier for customers to convey the exact location of the ATM.
     

  4. The most common complaint is that there are no clear guidelines as to how to proceed when the ATMs do not dispense cash, but debit the account of the customer.

These are some of the complaints that have been revealed by an official of a public sector bank to a journalist, and this has found its way in the press.
 

Apart from the problems enumerated in the aforesaid survey, there are a wide variety of other problems encountered by the public like swallowing of debit cards by the machines, not disbursing the full amount withdrawn and fraudulent withdrawals even after the loss of the ATM card is reported to the issuing bank.
 

In fact, RBI gives instructions to banks at various times, but there is no single authority to monitor compliance of these instructions. A case in point is as under:
 

On 13 April, 2009, RBI instructed banks to comply with the following for the benefit of persons with disabilities:
 

Firstly, banks were advised to take necessary steps to provide all existing ATMs / future ATMs with ramps so that wheel chair users or persons with disabilities, can easily access them and also make arrangements in such a way that the height of the ATM does not create an impediment in its use by a wheelchair user. Banks may also take appropriate steps including providing ramps at the entrance of the bank branches so that the persons with disabilities / wheel chair users can enter the bank branches and conduct business without much difficulty.
 

Secondly, banks were advised to make at least one third of new ATMs installed as talking ATMs with Braille keypads and place them strategically in consultation with other banks to ensure that at least one talking ATM with Braille keypad is generally available in each locality for catering to needs of visually impaired persons.
 

Even after five years, there is hardly any improvement in the way in which ATMs are located or made accessible to persons with disability, and nobody is monitoring compliance of these guidelines, with none to question the banks in this regard.
 

Role of National Payments Corporation of India -NPCI:
 

The NPCI plays an important role in bringing all the ATMs interconnected to each other to facilitate customers of any bank to operate the ATMs of any other bank. It operates the National Financial Switch, which connects all ATMs that has served as a boon to the bank customers, who have access to all ATMs in the country.
 

As at the end of February 2014, there were over 1.55 lakh ATMs of all banks put together, and this is expected to at least double within the next two years with India Post too jumping into the bandwagon and many corporates setting up white-label ATMs in the not too distant future.
 

But what is important is that with the proliferation of ATMs and corporates starting what are known as white-label ATMs, which are being set up, operated and owned by non-banks, there is bound to be considerable deterioration in customer service, and hence preventive and punitive steps are required to be taken by the bank regulator before it goes out of hand.
 

Centralised grievance redressal system needed
 

This sudden growth of automated teller machines or ATMs and heterogeneous ownership of ATMs, call for a streamlined, well documented and a centralised grievance redressal mechanism under the control of NPCI, who should take over the entire responsibility for redressing all grievances emanating from ATMs in a time bound manner. With the private non-bank corporates entering the fray, who have no control over the banking operations, there is bound to be disharmony in settlement of disputes, which can only be handled with an iron hand by a centralised agency.
 

The RBI should come out with detailed guidelines, including penal provisions for non-compliance of the directions of the NPCI, who should take the lead in meeting the aspirations of the banking public. As per the present regulations, if the amount is debited to your account but not dispensed by the machine, you are entitled to compensation of Rs100 per day of delay, if such amount is not reimbursed to you within 10 days of making a complaint. A similar system of compensation should be awarded for fraudulent withdrawals as well, unless the bank is able to prove the negligence of the customer.
 

The entire system of submitting a complaint should be made easy and simple, so that customers are not confused about how to make a complaint by giving them the facility to make the complaint instantly from the same kiosk. For lodging the complaints in the first instance, there should be a toll free telephone connection connecting directly to the centralised grievance redressal center and this should be boldly displayed at all ATM booths. And all such telephonic complaints should be recorded at the receiving end and promptly acknowledged through SMSs so that the customer is aware that his complaint has been correctly registered. This will lessen the burden to the complainant, particularly when you encounter problems with an ATM, which is not owned by the bank where you maintain your bank account.
 

There is a need to encourage more and more usage of ATMs to bring down the cost of transactions for banks, and hence it is necessary to make all ATMs as user friendly as possible and safe and secure. The recent incident of an attack on a lady bank officer in one of the ATM kiosks in Bangalore is still fresh in our memory and RBI should direct that all banks and ATM owners should take all possible preventive measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again anywhere in the country.
 

(The author is banking analyst and he writes for Moneylife under the pen name 'Gurpur'.)

Comments
sivasankaran
8 years ago
the recommendations are indeed good.we have to press hard to make them realised.let us campaign relentlessly for the betterment
S Santhanam
8 years ago
The Bangalore incident of attack on a woman in an ATM booth is still unresolved, despite all evidence of the attacker. With elections in Karnataka on, people should demand the people's representatives to get at the root of the problem and bring the culprit to the books. Similar cases are still unresolved. RBI may simply say it is a police case and not related to the banking. But, it has to answer the user of the ATM who is a client of a bank.
crmohanraj
8 years ago
I am so happy to read Mr Nagesh Kini's comment asking for Suo Moto action by RBI.That is just what is needed to stem the mounting rot of frauds as he rightly points out.

In this matter, the Can Bk Chairman, Opposite Party [OP], had the audacity to tell the court{both in District Forum as well as in State Commission}, that it is the onus of the victim to follow up with Police and obtain the Police Report and Can Bk will not do it!He does not submit to court his own investigation report on such a serious complaint. He does not want to go to Police and obtain Police Report. That is the level of arrogance, Canara Bank Chairman displays to a customer who has fallen victim to his defective ATM system.

Pushed to the corner, Victim runs around and gets the Police Report and submits it to Court as well as to OP.

Even after obtaining the Police Report OP states in sworn affidavits, both to District Forum and State Commission that the victim has failed to obtain Police Report.That is a lie.

Victim pleads to Courts for SUO MOTO action by Court for PERJURY as OP is resorting to lying under oath just to mislead the court and deny justice to victim. Despite examples set by Honourable Supreme Court by taking prompt Suo Moto action in Perjury case, Case number, pointed out by victim, court is still to take action on OP, for Perjury.That is the sad state of affairs.

RBI can make an example out of this default of Canara Bank Chairman and cleanse the rot that has set in, unchecked by Ombudsman.

Hope RBI steps in and eradicates this rot, now that esteemed Governor has recognized the problem of Banks denying justice to their customer without proving any negligence.

Regards

Mohan Raj
crmohanraj
8 years ago
This article mentions about "Fraudulent Cash Withdrawals".

Even if one fraudulent cash withdrawal takes place,that is one too many and the concerned bank has no business to be in ATM business. There should be zero tolerance for fraudulent cash withdrawal. Only with such clamp down can such frauds be eliminated. Banks should be forced to investigate such frauds and eliminate them in toto. Currently they are just dodging and do not reveal any investigation report as if their insiders are involved!

In this connection I repeat below my comments in a similar article of Madam Sucheta, elsewhere as that comment is relevant for this article also:

"This is a nice and helpful article by our respected Sucheta.

It is very wonderful of the Governor of RBI, to have asked banks to limit customer liability in case of losses due to hacking and phishing, unless they can prove deliberate customer negligence.He must have come to know of many such cases being prevalent.

Canara Bank is a great defaulter on this score. Their ATM security system is flawed.I know of a case where the Canara Bk Debit card is with owner, PIN number is known only to him and yet three consecutive withdrawals to the tune of rs 21000/- have been made. Can Bank has the video footage, showing the culprit who did the hacking the RBI Governor is talking about.

Can Bk refused to reinstate the amount. Victim went to consumer court,District Forum. Chairman, Canara Bank is the Opposite Party. Court asked the OP of the bank to produce the enquiry report and video footage. Can bk kept silent. Court ordered reinstatement of amount.

Instead of being customer friendly, Canara Bank has gone on appeal, to State Commission with out producing any proof, just to harass the victim. One year is over and Canara Bank is likely to keep asking adjournments and keep dragging on the case.They have nothing to lose. Chairman will keep getting his salary and perks. Poor customer of the Bank is the loser. Does Canara bank care?

Canara Bank is a very customer unfriendly bank even as it is running a bogus ATM system which lends itself to fraudulent withdrawals. RTI has revealed that in 2013 alone CanBK had more than 340 of such fraudulent cash withdrawals of their ATM debit cards.More than one a day!
Data for 2014 must be even more alarming.

I wish Ombudsman steps in and calls for all the investigation report of each and every fraudulent cash withdrawal of Canara Bank, debit as well as credit cards and take suitable action. The Chairman of the Canara Bank needs to be hauled up and some stringent action taken against him for his unfriendliness towards his customers and dragging them to courts without proving any customer negligence as Governor is pointing out.

It is very sad that Canara Bank indulges in such misbehavior and Ombudsman is silent.Hope RBI steps in and rectifies this pathetic situation.

If the Canara Bank Chairman cannot ensure zero occurrence of fraudulent cash withdrawals,he has to be ordered to shut down his ATM operations, forthwith.

I will be delighted to give all the proof to RBI".

Regards

Mohan Raj
Nagesh Kini
Replied to crmohanraj comment 8 years ago
Canara Bank's action of preferring appeals and not complying with the Consumer Forum directive is most customer unfriendly and needs to be severely condemned. That even the Chairman is playing ball makes it all the more serious.
This is a fit case for the RBI as Banking Regulator to act suo moto in demanding all papers as well as corrective steps in the face of mounting frauds.
Nagesh Kini
8 years ago
The fact remains that the ATMs have delivered tremendously by doing away with having to carry cheque books and ease of cash withdrawals, balances updating and various payment options for the bank customers at the same time more benefits for the brick-n-mortar banking sector by bringing about reduction in space and manpower requirements and less of customer foot falls at branches.
The suggestions made by Gurpur are extremely valid.
Nagesh Kini
8 years ago
The fact remains that the ATMs have delivered tremendously by doing away with having to carry cheque books and ease of cash withdrawals, balances updating and various payment options for the bank customers at the same time more benefits for the brick-n-mortar banking sector by bringing about reduction in space and manpower requirements and less of customer foot falls at branches.
The suggestions made by Gurpur are extremely valid.
Nagesh Kini
8 years ago
The fact remains that the ATMs have delivered tremendously by doing away with having to carry cheque books and ease of cash withdrawals, balances updating and various payment options for the bank customers at the same time more benefits for the brick-n-mortar banking sector by bringing about reduction in space and manpower requirements and less of customer foot falls at branches.
The suggestions made by Gurpur are extremely valid.
Free Helpline
Legal Credit
Feedback