20 Sep 2023 6:15 AM GMT
Recently, the Additional Bangalore Urban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission bench comprising of Shivarama. K (President) and Chandrashekar. S. Noola (Member) held ICICI Bank liable for causing undue harassment to a 68-year-old senior customer over a meagre 35 paise credit card debt on his closed account. The bank failed to close the customer’s account despite several...
Recently, the Additional Bangalore Urban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission bench comprising of Shivarama. K (President) and Chandrashekar. S. Noola (Member) held ICICI Bank liable for causing undue harassment to a 68-year-old senior customer over a meagre 35 paise credit card debt on his closed account. The bank failed to close the customer’s account despite several requests, causing significant distress to the customer.
Brief Facts of the Case:
Mr. P.V. Ramesh Kumar (“Complainant”), a 68-year-old senior citizen from Bengaluru, decided to close his ICICI credit card account and made a formal request to the bank for its closure. Throughout his history as a cardholder, the Complainant had consistently cleared his credit card dues on time. Despite his formal request for closure, the Complainant found himself subjected to persistent harassment by the bank's collection agents, who continued to demand payment for what they claimed was an outstanding balance on his closed credit card account. This harassment continued unabated for a staggering two-year period, causing significant distress to the senior citizen.
In September 2021, the ICICI Bank (“bank”) notified the Complainant that there was an outstanding credit balance of a mere 35 paise on his credit card account, along with an annual maintenance fee. Following the bank's instructions, the Complainant made a payment of Rs. 595 on September 17, 2021, in an attempt to clear the dues. However, the bank officials allegedly insisted that he owed an additional Rs. 6,000, claiming it was still due, despite his payment. Aggrieved, the Complainant filed a consumer complaint in the Bengaluru 3rd Additional Urban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission against both the bank and the officer in charge of the credit card division.
The bank argued that, as per the terms and conditions of the credit card agreement, any payment less than the full amount due would result in appropriate charges and interest being assessed on the account. The bank contended that the Complainant’s credit card account had a credit balance of 35 paise and an annual fee was charged for the card, as per the statement dated January 24, 2020. They asserted that the Complainant opted for more reward points on April 28, 2020, which resulted in a redemption charge of Rs. 25 and GST of Rs. 4.5, leading to an outstanding balance of Rs. 29.15 as of the May 25, 2020 statement. The bank claimed that, because the outstanding balance was less than Rs. 100, no further statements were generated, and no charges were imposed until January 25, 2021. On that date, an annual fee of Rs. 500 and GST of Rs. 90 were levied on the credit card, leading to an overdue amount as per the statement of Rs. 619.15. The bank argued that the Complainant made a cash payment of Rs. 595 on September 17, 2021, which included interest of Rs. 73.61, GST of Rs. 13.25, and a late payment fee of Rs. 1000, plus GST of Rs. 180. Consequently, they claimed to have zeroed out the card's outstanding balance on April 25, 2022, as a goodwill gesture.
Observations by the Commission:
The District Commission observed that the bank failed to submit their version within the stipulated statutory period. Furthermore, the bank was unable to substantiate the existence of the outstanding amount. The District Commission held that a mere balance of Rs. 0.35 was manipulated by the bank into a bill amounting to Rs. 595, which occurred despite the complainant’s request for the cancellation of his credit card.
The District Commission noted the undue harassment suffered by the Complainant, who had paid the due amount in good faith. Consequently, the District Commission awarded him compensation of Rs. 5,000, taking into consideration the financial hardships, mental agony, and inconvenience endured by the senior citizen.
Case: P.V. Ramesh Kumar Son of Late P.V. Jayaram vs The Officer Concerned, ICICI Credit Card Care Officer
Case No.: CC/74/2022
Advocate for the Complainant: Somashekar Associates
Advocate for the Respondent: JM Patil
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