SBI’s home loan customers sent from pillar to post

India’s largest lender offers attractive home loan schemes to generate demand, then loses interest when it comes to processing loan requests. One such complaint against SBI exposes the situation

Customers lining up for home loan offerings better size up the uphill task ahead of them. For, even though SBI is going all out to woo customers with attractive packages, it is making them run from pillar to post before releasing even a penny.
One particular complaint by Mr Kalyan Chakravarthy speaks volumes about the troubles home loan customers go through while dealing with bank officers. His case exposes the bureaucratic practices prevalent at the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India. Between the day that SBI’s representative came to collect all the relevant documents till the loan was actually sanctioned, the complainant has been made to run around in search of various documents (among other things) over and over again, and has been yelled at by the bank officials, for no fault of his.

After waiting for two weeks without any answer since providing the documents, when he met the manager for a preliminary enquiry, the Bank referred him to a separate branch where all the loans get processed. This is where his troubles began. Mr Chakravarthy states, “When I went there to know the status, they yelled at the top of their voice as to why we always keep on following up and they would call us once the application is processed. Again we waited for a week and finally I gave up and went to the branch again. Then ironically they asked me to get an estimate of the construction done by a prescribed engineer (Mr Chakravarthy had earlier submitted a valuation report from his engineer). I had to run to that engineer to get the valuation done again, for which he took four-five days and took a fee for the service.”

After he submitted the valuation report, again nothing moved and Mr Chakravarthy had to approach the branch again. This time they demanded legal advice, again from a prescribed legal advisor. He was also asked to get an encumbrance certificate and a duplicate will of the property. Even after doing all this, and after waiting for ten more days, SBI demanded the details of his previous employment as the Bank wanted a two-year working record. Even though he had already submitted relevant IT returns for three years, his arguments fell on deaf ears.

A week later, the complainant finally got a call from the manager asking him to sign the final documents, to seal the deal. Needless to say, his troubles didn’t end here. The manager asked him to pay stamp fees, which came to a staggering 0.5% of the loan amount! The reason for this absurd demand—the Bank was worried that in case he defaulted, it would have to file a case in the court, where the Bank needs to pay the stamp duty fee. As the complainant puts it, he was already being made out to be a defaulter!

Even after paying the required stamp duty, Mr Chakravarthy was referred to another manager, who made his own new list of requirements, including another encumbrance certificate. To complete all the formalities, when the complainant tried to open a new account, his request was flatly refused, as he had made the abominable mistake of coming on a Saturday! His alacrity won him a further round of abuses. After two days, his loan was finally sanctioned, but not without the customary new list of requirements. Even after going through all this mess, the complainant still remains unsure of getting the loan disbursed!

Mr Chakravarthy has highlighted the following issues:
They (the Bank) are asking the customers to get various documents which are very crucial (like legal advice and an encumbrance certificate). I guess this should be done by them independently as in today's world it’s very easy to get a fake certificate and the possibility of a fraud is not ruled out in these circumstances.
They (the Bank) are advertising 0% processing charges, but asking the customers to bear the expenses of getting a valuation certificate, legal advice, encumbrance certificate and also the stamp duty which in my case came to around 1.2% of the amount of loan. Is this not cheating, had I gone to any private bank wouldn’t I have just paid the 0.5% processing charges and got the loan without any hassles?
With such kind of practices, won’t SBI lose the customer base and business thereby, as many customers would opt to go for private banks and avoid PSUs as far as possible?

What is the reason for taking the stamp duty from all the customers in the beginning; is SBI of the impression that all will default on payments or do they want to increase the revenue for the government from these stamp duties?
This is the response they give to educated professionals—I’m not sure about the plight of a common man who is not aware of financial jargon and procedures, forget about illiterates.
That is the alarming situation currently playing out. After squirming about low credit off-take for the most part of this year, when customers are now slowly lining up for credit, SBI is getting cold feet in expediting the processing of loan requests. Moneylife tried to contact SBI for its comments, but didn’t get any reply.

Sucheta Dalal with Sanket Dhanorkar [email protected]

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