Now, just log in to lodge complaints

Everything from stocks to television sets can be bought online in this age of the Internet. But did you know that you can file grievances against a range of entities online as well? Whether you're an investor who was mis-sold a product or an unhappy consumer, regulators have turned net-savvy, launching online portals for redressal of complaints. Here's a brief on where to go in order to file grievances online.

Everything from stocks to television sets can be bought online in this age of the Internet. But did you know that you can file grievances against a range of entities online as well?

Whether you're an investor who was mis-sold a product or an unhappy consumer, regulators have turned net-savvy, launching online portals for redressal of complaints. Here's a brief on where to go in order to file grievances online.

Most of us are investors in one form or the other, whether you open a bank account or actively trade in stocks. It may be common knowledge that you can approach quite a few bodies – the stock exchanges, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and SEBI to lodge complaints against entities such as brokerages, trading members, listed companies and so on. Still, complaints to the BSE and NSE, for instance, have to be done in writing and sent to the right arbitration centre of the stock exchange. The investor helpline hitherto being run by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is not being extended.

Investor complaints

Enter SCORES, short for SEBI Complaints Redressal System. Accessible at http://scores.gov.in, the Web site is run by the SEBI and is a one-stop shop for all investor complaints.

You can file complaints against the gamut of entities involved in stock markets, from brokers, depositories, registrars and transfer agents to mutual funds, portfolio managers, and even the stock exchanges themselves. For instance, you can lodge complaints against companies for wrongs such as non-receipt of dividends, bonuses, letter of offer for buybacks, and much more. Grievances can be filed against.

You can also blow the whistle on insider trading or price manipulations using this site.

All it requires is for you to register on the site. And yes, registration is free. You must compulsorily provide your email address, address for correspondence and PAN for registration. An email will be sent giving login details which you should use to manage your account on the site and file complaints.

Once a complaint has been filed, its status can be tracked using your account. What's more, you can send a reminder if you feel there's been too long a delay in redressal. SEBI can also request clarifications on any complaint filed, which can be done through the Web site. Supporting documents to your complaint may be uploaded as well.

Banking and insurance

Stock market complaints apart, banks and insurance companies have the ombudsman mechanism to rectify wrongs. These two bodies do not have a mechanism similar to SEBI's to file complaints, but it still can be done quite easily.

For complaints by insurance policyholders, the IRDA has started Integrated Grievance Management System, accessible at http://irda.gov.in – go to the Grievances section. Under this system, you can either call a toll-free number (155255) or send in an email to complaints@irda.gov.in.

The procedure to lodge banking complaints is similar to that of insurance, though involving a bit more effort. Go here: http://rbi.org.in/commonman/English/Scripts/AgainstBank.aspx. The Web site allows complaints against banks and the RBI itself. So, under the ‘Complaints' section in the website, choose ‘Banks', then the ‘Banking Ombudsman Scheme' and finally ‘Addresses of Banking Ombudsman'. Based on your location, choose the email address and send an email with details of the complaint.

Insurance and banking complaints may be made only if you have already approached the insurer or banker and have not received a satisfactory response, or have been ignored or rejected. A representative such as an advocate cannot file a complaint on your behalf.

Take a look at the FAQ section in both Web sites, which go into detail about the types of complaints that can be made and what you should put into a complaint.

Consumer complaints

Well, even if you're not an avid investor, you surely will be a consumer. And there are possibilities galore that you'll feel short-changed after buying some product or availing of a service.

Suppose you bought tickets online, cancelled them later and are enduring an endless wait for the promised refunds. Log on to http://core.nic.in. This portal is for the education of the consumer and has facilities similar to the SCORE site to lodge complaints.

The portal is run by the Consumer Online Resource and Empowerment Centre (CORE), a group of 55 consumer organisations and is supported by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Consumer complaints can be filed against all sellers, whether they are for goods or services. Here too, you need to register and create an account in order to register a complaint.

Providing PAN is not mandatory, but providing a phone number is a must.

Besides seeking redressal for grievances, you can get doubts clarified, ask for information relating to consumer affairs, and so on through the site. It is not necessary to have first addressed the seller of your grievance. A toll-free number is also provided on the site for lodging complaints.

As the site seeks to be an information centre of sorts for all things related to a consumer, the more inquisitive can trawl the site to know more about a variety of topics. For instance, there are reports on topics such as gold hallmarking, consumer studies undertaken by various national and international government bodies, consumer rights and much more.

You can read up on previous judgments, glance at the entities against which complaints have been filed. The CORE group even publishes monthly progress reports, if you are inclined to check.

The only trouble with the SCORES and CORE sites, apart from aesthetics, is that they give up once in a while and you're left wondering why the link you just clicked doesn't seem to be taking you anywhere.

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