The recent HDFC and Axis Bank unilateral move to charge Rs.150 extra for every fifth transaction in a month whether by ATM or branch has evoked severe criticism while ICICI has long been doing it stealthily. How the private banks can do it? They know how to evade the RBI rules and ask RBI many times as who should be sent for inspection at their location.
Last month HDFC had sent a mail to a customer informing him that he is being enrolled as "Preferred Banking Programme" and he would be charged a fee for it but the customer could not see DECLINE button as it was down in the mail and he could not click on it.
So, the dubious way of fleecing a customer is the only option for HDFC which has been brow-beaten in the demonetisation drive of the government recently. Axis was in the headlines for its derailing efforts to legalise the black money during the drive. So, the only way to recover the losses was to enroll customers in some fictitious program and charge them heavily. Some of them were not even aware of the fact that their bank is actually cheating them for years.
If it had been in the US, the banks would have been hounded but in India everything is possible. The customary annual RBI inspection in each and every bank premises is often rotten with decline in standards. It is beset with chosen few who are sent at the request of the receving branch and to expect them to find out loopholes is beyond question anyway.
Why is it that once the most-revered Reserve Bank of India has been loosing its grip over the banks. Does it know how its counterpart in Japan is exercising its grip as firmly as it was before the war? Once you allow a breach to pass the rules, it is an unending accommodation feigning ignorance.
Even the other regulator TRAI is coming under radar of late for its new blinking policies. Under its hoods, Airtel has been charging ignorant customers heavily and very fact that it charges Rs.100 as penalty on late payments is an instance. In no other sector, such huge penalty is collected unilaterally and Airtel receives millions of rupees in the form of collection of late fees. What’s the difference? Even TRAI doesn’t want know lest it has to act.