Now, an ombudsman for digital transactions

This scheme is for grievances relating to service given by entities other than banks

Transfers through Paytm, UPI, BHIM or other electronic/digital means have become common in recent times. More so, after demonetisation forced even the reluctant to adapt to technology. But it is not that things can never go wrong here. Problems can be plenty — from failure to load money onto wallets to credit to the unintended account or non-refund of cancelled or failed transactions. To deal with such grievances, the RBI has recently brought out an ombudsman scheme for digital transactions. Here’s a lowdown:

What is covered?

This scheme is applicable for grievances arising in relation to payment service provided by entities other than banks. Pre-paid instruments, mobile/electronic transfers, UPI/Bharat Bill Payment System/UPI or Bharat QR Code are covered under this scheme. Complaints can be on grounds such as failure in crediting merchant's account within reasonable time, failure to load funds within reasonable time in wallets/cards, unauthorised electronic fund transfer, failure to act upon stop-payment instructions within a timeframe or violation of the RBI directive on fees and charges, if any, on digitial transactions.

Registering a complaint

You cannot register a complaint with the ombudsman as soon as you encounter a problem. Your service provider acts as your first point of redressal. You can move to the ombudsman only if you have made a written representation to the service provider and the latter has either rejected the complaint or not responded to it within a month, or you are not satisfied with the response given.

However, you must approach the ombudsman within one year of receipt of reply from the service provider or within 13 months of filing the compliant (in case you have not received a response).

The complaint must be made in writing (along with supporting documents), giving clearly the name and address of the complainant and the service provider, the facts of the case, the loss caused and the relief sought.

It can be sent by post or by email to the ombudsman, 21 of whom operate in the country across different states. (https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Content/PDFs/AAOOSDT31012019.pdf). The complaint must be made to the ombudsman in whose jurisdiction the branch or office of the service provider complained against is located. Else, if the services are centralised, it can be filed in the jurisdiction in which the billing address of the customer is located. There are no charges or fee for registering a complaint.

Redressal

Once a complaint is accepted, the ombudsman can resolve the problem through conciliation or mediation. Otherwise, an award will be passed directing the service provider to perform his obligations and/or pay a compensation. The compensation amount for any loss is limited to the amount arising directly out of the act of the service provider, or ₹20 lakh, whichever is lower. This will be over and above the disputed amount.

Besides, the ombudsman can award compensation not exceeding ₹1 lakh to the complainant for mental agony and harassment. If you are satisfied with the award, you must send a letter of acceptance within 30 days of the receipt of the copy of the award. If you are dissatisfied, you can appeal to the Deputy Governor in charge of the department of the RBI implementing the scheme or move to consumer/regular court.

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