Dec 072014

Banking ombudsman’s report says Habib Bank Limited tops list of worst banks in Pakistan in terms of customer services
HBL termed ‘super bad’ in ATM, charges claim reversals
233 of total 1,091 complaints lodged against HBL in 2013, ombudsman granted Rs26m of Rs28m worth claims to complainants

The profit-conscious banks appear to have been doing little or nothing to better serve their customers constituting, what the central bank says are only 12 percent of the country’s 184.35 million population.

In its Annual Report 2013 submitted to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor under Section 82-G of Banking Companies Ordinance 1962 (BCO 1962), the banking ombudsman observed that the number of banks-related complaints is increasing in the country.

Ever since its institution, the ombudsman’s office has seen the number of formal and informal complaints skyrocketing from 844 (on May 2, 2005) to 28,558 (on December 31, 2013).

Besides including cases of frauds and corruption, the complaints pertain to consumer products, advances, loans and deposits, service rules, staff matters, ATMs, service inefficiency, delays, gross dereliction of duty, utility bills, lockers, Zakat deduction, lost cheques, foreign currency account, exports, misleading advertising and breach of confidentiality.

Of the total complaints received, 18,375 were formal and 10,183 were informal. Formal complaints are those submitted in writing under BCO 1962 while informal complaints are lodged without following the set procedure.

According to the report, the banking ombudsman was able to resolve only 7,478 of 28,558 complaints – 6,870 through reconciliation and 608 by passing orders.

A yearly account reveals that the customers submitted 4,238 complaints to the ombudsman during 2013. This number depicts six percent growth over 3,998 complaints the ombudsman had received in 2012.


A bank-wise breakup puts HBL in the worst place in terms of customer complaints. During 2013, the ombudsman’s office received 233 complaints against the bank, the most against any bank. The complainants claimed over Rs 8.494 million against the bank and were granted over Rs 8.397 million in 107 cases.

Clubbed with 97 complaints forwarded from 2012, the number of public complaints against HBL accumulates to 330 with claims of Rs 28.061. The ombudsman declared 167 claims worth Rs26.649 million granted while declining 128 and rejecting seven others.


“HBL has tons of instances like this! It is super bad in ATM and charges claims!” tweeted Sohail Ragadia in response to a participant’s complaint on social media that a relation had to bear double charges in a shopping mall when he used HBL’s debit card.

“That’s happening a lot with HBL debit cards these days. Agha’s has stopped accepting debit cards altogether because of this,” added Khurram Husain, a columnist and economic journalist.

HBL’s link was “totally down” with the bank having placed notices outside its branches, claimed Mohammad Yar Khan.

“The same happened with me. I went to my branch, filled a form and submitted it. It took a week to reverse the charges,” tweeted Asadullah from Main Boulevard Gulberg Lahore.

Qaiser Khan, a cashier at Shell’s fuel station in Shreen Jinnah Colony, attributed most of debit card-related complications to the banks’ link-down, low balance or other online problems.

HBL, however, is not the only poor service provider in this “machine-driven market capitalism”, as tweeted by Manzoor Isran.

Akmal Shahzad tweeted: “HBL ATM machines are performing transactions horribly slow, looks like HBL is going 2 sponsor Shutdown call of IK @HBL”

“On other news… #HBL service remains the same —- Pathetic. @HBLPak you got me all excited with the launch the other day… :-/,” says a tweet by Sarah Dawood.

“Thanks to a complaint made with the State Bank, HBL has in 2 days reversed a charge of Rs29,960 which it initially had said was not its fault,” said Omar Quraishi in his tweet.

“#HBL spent millions on their internet banking launch. The same millions they should’ve spent ensuring the website actually worked,” said a tweet by Maheen, another disgruntled HBL customer.

According to the ombudsman’s report, United Bank Limited (UBL) comes second with 215 complaints (Rs12.34 million claims) against it whereas the number of complaints against Standard Chartered Bank is 87 (Rs18.47 million claims).


A region-wise breakup shows Karachi being the worst city in terms of banking services with 237 or 22 percent of the total 1,091 complaints. Lahore follows with 214 or 20 percent of the total complaints.

According to the report, province-wise, Punjab witnessed 396 or 36 percent customers lodging complaints, Sindh (sans Karachi) 163 or 15 percent, Balochistan 42 or four percent and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan 39 or three percent of the total complaints.

The ombudsman also carried over some 730 unresolved complaints from 2012, taking the total number of complaints in 2013 to 1,821.

Monetary claims against this total amounted to over Rs 164.351 million. Declining 818 and rejecting 46 others, the ombudsman granted 819 claims worth more than Rs 158.206 million, the report adds.

As 2014 nears its end, it is yet to be seen how many complaints the ombudsman will carry forward into the next year.

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