Considering the high costs levied by private banks for bank lockers, most respondents to Moneylife’s Survey preferred to go with a public sector banks
Moneylife conducted an online survey to study user perception on bank lockers. The survey, which closed on 20 March 2015, obtained 765 responses. Private Banks charge a fat multiple of what a public sector bank. Not surprisingly, over 65% of those who responded to the survey said they have lockers with nationalised banks (28% had lockers with private banks). However, costs apart, this may also be a reflection of the number of nationalised bank branches across India.
The respondents are educated, tech-savvy individuals, who are either on social media (Twitter and Facebook) or subscribed to Moneylife. It is also clear that an overwhelming majority (91%) of those who responded are people who already have a locker.
Locker rentals at many nationalised banks are still in the region of Rs700 to Rs800 per year, which seems extremely fair for those who have valuables that need to be stored securely. In some cases, the locker rental in a private bank is as high as Rs20,000 a year. Naturally, private and foreign banks like to woo their large customers by offering discounts on those who have fat fixed deposits (FDs) or a big 'banking relationship'.
About 60% of our respondents were willing to pay less than Rs2,000 to hire a locker, which practically shuts them out of the private bank locker market. Just over 35% of respondents were willing to pay private bank locker charges that vary from Rs2,000 to Rs6,000 pa and just over 3% are willing to pay over Rs6,000 a year. This means, although locker rentals at some banks can go up to Rs20,000, only a tiny percentage of consumers are willing to pay such charges for lockers.
Nearly 60% of the respondents said they had never been denied a locker. Only 29% were turned down initially or had conditions imposed for renting a locker. While many respondents were denied a locker because of unavailability, many people chose not to avail a locker when the banks demanded that the customer maintain a huge sum of money in FDs. In some cases, where the banks stated unavailability of lockers, they also added that lockers could be made available if the customer chooses to invest in an insurance scheme.
Importantly, nearly 40% of the respondents were unaware that banks are legitimately allowed to collect some fixed deposit as a condition for renting lockers. Over 40% of our respondents reported having been demanded a sum or purchase beyond the prescribed limit (deposit worth three years of locker rent along with charges to break open the locker in case of such an eventuality) in order to avail a locker. The amounts asked to be maintained in FDs varied from as little as Rs10,000 (which was a legitimate condition, but the respondent did not pay) and Rs25,000 to Rs10 lakh. But, by and large, most were asked to maintain an FD of Rs1 lakh only.
A quick look at the findings shows that most people are fairly satisfied with the banks’ locker service on all key parameters. Those who complain are often unaware of the rules and conditions or unwilling to take into account rising realty costs.
Almost 80% of our survey respondents were satisfied with the level of security provided by their banks to protect their valuables—like sturdy lockers, burglar alarms and CCTV surveillance.
In our survey, it was observed that an overwhelming majority (87.7%) of respondents had not purchased insurance for the jewellery kept in the locker, although most were aware that banks do not insure the content of lockers.
Over a third of the respondents do not maintain a list of items they place in the locker. That means only three out of 10 people have taken a conscious note of the exact value of the items they have placed in the locker. This can be dangerous. If something untoward were to happen, how would they even calculate their loss?