HDFC Bank put country’s reputation at stake: National Consumer Commission
Severely criticising HDFC Bank for refusing to assist an Indian couple who were “trapped in Thailand and Singapore”, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) made this observation: “The bank has got no love and respect for India. The reputation of India was at stake. Knowing full well that Indians were trapped in a foreign country, it was the bounden duty of the manager to swing into action immediately. "He committed an egregious mistake for taking no action for 10 days. It exposes the sloth and callousness on the part of the manager. This shows negligence, inaction and passivity on the part of the bank.
"Foreigners always complain that due to procedural delays, they do not want to have business relations with this country. The lackadaisical approach by the bank is surprising. The bank manager did not make any effort to straighten out the problem.”
The bench headed by Justice JM Malik made the observations while asking the bank to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the Indian couple who were stuck in Thailand and Singapore as the bank did not activate their debit card for 10 days in 2008. The apex commission enhanced the compensation from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh.
In 20018, Chandigarh residents senior advocate Mohinderjit Singh Sethi and his wife Rajmohini Sethi decided to travel to Singapore and Thailand for 10 days. Before their departure, they had deposited Rs 1.5 lakh with HDFC Bank, and had taken assurance and promise by the bank officials that their card would be operational overseas. However, when they reached Singapore, they were not able to use the card. When the couple contacted HDFC Bank manager Rajinder Patheja, he told the couple that due to a minor issue with some details given in the forms, the bank was unable to de-block their ATM card.
After much difficulty and struggle, the couple reached India and filed a case against the bank at the district consumer forum, which awarded a fine of Rs 50,000. Unsatisfied with the verdict, the couple approached the state consumer forum, which refused to enhance the compensation amount. Finally, the couple approached NCDRC, which overruled the previous verdicts and ordered HDFC Bank to pay a fine of Rs 5 lakh for the inconvenience caused to the couple. In its order, the apex consumer commission said the bank was at liberty to take action against branch manager Rajinder Patheja and at least Rs 50,000 may be deducted from his salary, out of the said compensation.