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NCP, Left crusade against banking malpractices

Our Banking Bureau  |  Mumbai 

If not by will, at least chance has brought the (NCP) and the Left together in their
While the Left is opposing opening up of the financial sector, the is fighting it out with credit card issuing banks for charging high interest rates and sending not-so-pleasant recovery agents.
All India Credit Card Users' Association, led by the (NCP) leader Vijay Kamble, today staged a protest rally against major credit card issuing banks "" Citibank, ICICI Bank, HSBC, ABN Amro and Standard Chartered Bank.
The association has alleged that these banks have been charging high interest rates on cards. It was also protesting against the recovery techniques employed by these banks.
The procession taken out by the association damaged nine branches of credit card issuing banks.
A customer from Dadar, in central Mumbai, on the condition of anonymity said her husband, who was unable to clear credit card dues worth Rs 3,000 in February, started getting phone calls from recovery agents of the issuing bank.
Finally, the bank sent recovery agents to her home. "These agents abused the lady present at home and took possession of the television set," said the customer.
Senior officials from leading foreign banks categorically denied the allegations.
"We do not resort to such illegal means to recover credit card dues," said a senior foreign bank official.
The bank, at the time of issuance of the card, gives a booklet explaining the interest rate structure and other details. It is the responsibility of the customer to read the details and pay the dues on time, he added.
Vijay Kamble, vice-president, Maharashtra, alleged that the interest rates charged by the foreign banks were very high (2 to 3 per cent) compared to international rates. "We are also protesting against the recovery techniques used by these banks," said Kamble.
We have written letters to the finance minister P Chidambaram, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor to look into the matter, he added.
Patil has assured the association that he would call a meeting of all the top executives of the banks to discuss the issue, said Kamble. The Association has decided to stage similar protests in other cities also, he added.
Recently, credit card issuing banks have also been under the Reserve Bank of India (RBI's) lens following growing customer complaints.
RBI in January had called a meeting of card issuing bank's and Indian Banks' Association (IBA), the premier bankers body to formulate a regulatory mechanism for cards.

First Published: Fri, March 11 2005. 00:00 IST