The credit customer seems to be in distress with all guidelines being drawn in favor of the issuer. Customer has no longer remained the entity of prime importance especially in the credit card business.
The resultant of all this is the depreciating customer base and inflating number of customer complaints against issuers.
The banking Ombudsman report has said that the number of complaints against credit card companies showing a regular hike year on year. The number of complaints has shot up by 74% in the year 2008-09, the report says.
"Complaints relating to credit cards continue to show an uptrend...The number of complaints pertaining to credit cards rose by 74 per cent during 2008-09," the Ombudsman said.
In the year 2008-09, as many as 17, 648 customers have lodged complaints of their woes against issuers. The same period saw a decline in outstanding cards to 3.6 million.
"Credit card issues arise, as the customers do not understand the product and charges associated with it. In some cases involving third parties, issuers can do little but to go by computer generated records," said a credit card head.
Majority of the complaints pertain to issues like problems of overcharging, issuance of unsolicited cards, issuance of free cars and charging annual fees against them, abusive calls and selling loans over phone and issuance of insurance policies.
The banking ombudsman is a solution to these problems but it is a time consuming process.
A customer is not allowed to even hold back his transactions as it is against the prescribed norms. "The money is paid to the merchant within a day of his claim," said the spokesperson at Axis Bank.
When the customer files a complaint with the card company, the company in turn contacts the service provider like MasterCard or Visa. These service providers contact the merchant's bank which in turn contacts the merchant who had swiped the card during the transaction. "These companies in turn get in touch with the merchant to address the issue," said the spokesperson for SBI cards.
There are many disputes that may arise between the customers and merchants and all the intermediaries in the process. "To avoid these disputes, the customer should always use the card at reputed places.
The person should make it a point to be present when the merchant is swiping the card. In case of online transactions, the cardholder should use it at websites that would have secure payments and good information technology infrastructure," said Subrat Pani, business head - cards, Kotak Mahindra Bank.