Customers of the largest private lender - ICICI Bank face problem with the Electronic Clearance Service (ECS) mandate.
ECS is a mode of electronic funds transfer from one bank account to another bank account using the services of a clearing house set up by Reserve Bank of India. This is normally for bulk transfers from one account to many accounts or vice-versa. Under this service the customer authorizes the bank to do transactions by filling a mandate form and depositing it with endorsement of the bank. Though the ECS deduction is automatic, the bank leaves the control of deduction in the customer's hands.
A collection agent from ICICI Bank disturbed Mr Prasad Rao, an employee of BHEL, on his daughter's birthday party. The agent had come to collect Rs 22,000 from Rao for an EMI of his home loan which had already been deducted from his account three days earlier.
The ECS deductions of the bank are becoming unpredictable day by day and thereby causing nuisance to the customers who have to face embarrassment and mental torture for the reason that are ‘unknown' to the bank itself.
Mr Parasuram, a lecturer with Osmania University said, "I had taken a two-wheeler loan from ICICI Bank in May 2008. A proper ECS deduction mandate was taken from me by the bank. Till now, only two ECS deductions were made from my account, though there have been sufficient funds."
He further explains that the problem continues when one gets a call from the bank about the dues. "From the very next day, the call centre/collection executives start pestering you for no mistake of yours. I tried explaining to them that there were funds in the account and that the problem was with the execution of mandate over which I have no control," he said.
The bank has problems in their execution and it is the customer who is tagged as a ‘defaulter' with a cheque-bounce fine of Rs 250 per month. People who bear the trouble caused by these collection agents land up paying a heavier price at the time of loan closure.
Mr Raja, a software engineer with Computer Associates said, "In my loan duration of 18 months for a bike, six times ECS deductions did not happen and I refused to pay the fine. But to get a no-objection certificate from the bank, I was forced to pay that with interest for one year."
All this leads to a bad credit history for a customer along with the torture that he faces for no reasons. This leaves no option with the customers but to approach a government body that hears and investigates on their complaints.
Mr Parasuram says, "It appears that there is no way out other than approaching the Banking Ombudsman as ICICI Bank did not respond to my complaint for the last five months."
However the Banking Ombudsman of Andhra Pradesh said, "We will look into all these complaints if somebody formally complains to us as per the prescribed procedure."