Banks have the right to introduce charges as long as they are reasonable and customers have been notified well in time, AC Mahajan, chairman, Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) has said. The quasi-regulatory arm of the Reserve Bank of India is in charge of devising the banks' code of commitment to customers as well as getting banks to adhere to it.
HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and more recently State Bank of India had come under severe criticism from customers for levy of cash transaction and non-maintenance charges.
Speaking exclusively to Outlook Money, Mahajan informed that BSCBI has taken up the matter with the banks concerned. "All banks have given their responses. We believe that banks have followed the procedure that is required to be followed," he said. However, he also put in a rider. "If they do not follow the stipulated procedure and a customer feels that 30-day notice was not available to him in a transparent manner, he has a right to approach bank for refund of the charges. If the matter is still not sorted out, he can approach the banking ombudsman," he added.
Banks can introduce charges on their services in line with their business model, as long as there is no violation of the code of commitment to customers (BCSBI code) adopted by them. "However, banks have the responsibility to ensure that charges are fair, reasonable and introduced in a transparent manner," he said.
If the customer is not happy with her bank's charge structure, she has the right to move on to other banks, Mahajan pointed out.