What If My Cheque Gets Lost In Transit?
A cheque deposited in a bank can be rejected for reasons ranging from an incorrect date to a spelling error. Then there are the numerous cheques that are lost in transit you put it in the drop box, but it never turns up for processing at the bank branch. In both the cases, you learn of the problem when the money has not been credited to your account even after a month. The customer care executives have been known to wash their hands off the matter by asking you to issue a new cheque.
But did you know that RBI has directed all commercial banks in the country to return dishonored instruments to the customer within 24 hours? According to a circular issued by the Indian Banks' Association on orders from the apex bank, "In respect of cheques lost in transit or at the paying bank's branch, banks should immediately bring it to the notice of the account holder so that he can issue a stop payment instruction. He can also take care that other cheques issued by him are not dishonored due to the non-crediting of the amount of the lost cheque.
Since the onus for such a loss is on the collecting banker, not on the account holder, customers are not only expected to be reimbursed for any ensuing expenses, but are also entitled to the interest for the time taken to obtain the duplicate cheque.
Typically, a photocopy of the deposited cheque is enough to prove a deficiency in service. The pay-in slip does not bear any bank endorsement, so customers should not rely on these alone. Should you have a cheque-related grievance, you can file an online complaint with the banking ombudsman (https://secweb.rbi.org.in/BO/comp ltindex.htm). However, you will have to wait for a month for the bank to reply to your complaint.
Says an ICICI Bank executive:
"The lengthy redressal process can be avoided if the customer is more aware. An outstation cheque should not take more than 15 days to be processed, while a local cheque should be cleared within 48 hours. So, if you monitor your account during this period, you will notice things are amiss early on and can issue a stop payment instruction immediately. Unfortunately, a random check among five leading banks reveals that you are unlikely to have the associated fee waived. However, some banks do not charge this fee if you issue the instruction through Net banking.
As far as dishonored cheques are concerned, RBI also takes customers to task. If cheques drawn on a particular account are dishonored four times during a financial year for want of sufficient funds, banks are allowed to deny a fresh cheque book to the customer. However, they have to alert the customers on time. Says an RBI official: "The cheques dishonored due to insufficient funds have to be returned to the customer along with a memo clearly stating the reason.