Product Returns in eCommerce: Inputs on Issues
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Dept of Consumer Affairs more
On Mon, 20 May 2019 11:11:38 +0530 Dept. of Consumer Affairs (Government of India)
The recent 3 case of exchange : (i) I bought one Prestige electric kettle 1.5 L from Rathor Sons , Visakhapatnam. The quality was so poor that the handle melted away. I narrowly escaped being electrocuted! The inner base plate was of inferior stainless steel and was developing grey and black spots. The party referred my case to their agent in Vijayawada, but the agent did not respond for a month. Having lost some 7 months in this tussle, I went to court .The case is in progress. (ii) I then bought a Butterfly electric kettle of 1.5 L online from Amazon.con. This inner base plate of this kettle also has turned grey and black spots are appearing. I complained to the party/ Butterfly. They told me to take it to their technician in Akkayyapalem, Visakhapatnam. The technician kept the kettle for some 9 days without intimating me of the action taken to repair the kettle.I then went to the technician 12 km away and asked him why he has not responded.He replied rudely that the model of Butterfly kettle is not available with him and he has no idea how to repair the kettle! I gave this feedback to the Butterfly company. They have not responded. (iii) In Jan. 2019 , I purchased a set of 3 trouser pieces of Raymond make in an exhibition that was organised by the Andhra University in its grounds. The seller, an agent of Raymond, said that the same cloth will cost Rs 3000/- more in the Raymond showroom. This false bait was taken by me in good faith. When I gave the black piece for tailoring in the Raymond showroom, they returned the cloth saying it is an inch or so LESS in width than the standard width! I filed a complaint with the District Consumer Forum. The case is not yet registered.The Forum wants to know what is the standard width of trouser pieces of Raymond. I went to Raymond showroom and asked them to give in writing what is the standard with.They refused saying they have no authority to give such a certificate. I then complained to the Raymond company online. They have simply asked for the voucher copy twice and then shut up!! Two reminders have been sent to Raymond.They are not responding.Hence, next week I shall request the Forum to register my complaint and proceed with the case. It is for the O.P. to clarify what is the standard width. I am getting the documents in order. Another major fault noticed is that the black piece is NOT of Raymond; it is stamped with the seal of Grasim!!
From the above facts. it is evident that the customer service in India is simply third rate. And the main reason is the soft approach taken by the courts to the consumer complaints. Instead of the C.P. Act 1986 protecting the consumer, de facto, it has become a Merchant's Protection Act and is in favour of the merchants!! I have had a harrowing time pursuing the 30 consumer cases, but I am also determined to win and teach the merchants that, come rain or shine, I will not leave then and bring them to justice. The major flaws in the implementation of the C.P. Act 1986 are:
(i) The cost and compensation awarded is not worth the candle! Does it make sense to award cost
of Rs 2,000/- at the the Forum stage after some 20 hearing when each hearing costs Rs 300/- by way of transport by car plus Rs 1,000/- for the stationery , stamps , board etc. Or in the state commission an award of cost of Rs 10,000/- after 25 hearings, when each hearing costs not less than Rs 4, 500/- for travel by train in 2TR A/C and otto / taxi expenses from Vizag to Hyderabad/ Vijayawada plus Rs 2,000/- towards stationery and postal charges? I don't know why the courts are so frugal in this matter. Why should the courts be so soft towards the delinquent parties? The complainant is not a beggar. He wants justice with reasonable cost and compensation for the efforts taken to bring the merchant to justice. No consideration is given by the courts for the tremendous efforts and time one has to put in to plead the case. (ii) Even if one wins, the merchant does not pay up in time/ 2 months. The complainant has to start the circus again!! Even though the Sec. 27 of the C.P. Act 1986 specifies penalties and cost for non-compliance with the Orders of the Commission/Forum, the Forum is not levying the penalty or imposing imprisonment as specified in Sec. 27. This is making mockery of the rule of law.
(iii) It is seen that courts are again soft in granting repeated adjournments to merchants. Regulation -11 of the C.P. Regulation 2005 prescribes Rs 500/- penalty for each adjournment. But this is not imposed. After 3 adjournments , and if one insists, a paltry Rs 100/- is given as charity! How is this justified? Each trip to attend the hearing at Forum level costs Rs 300/- by car and at the commission level Rs 4, 500/ - , and still more at the National Commission level.
Why is the consumer protection act so effective in the US or UK? It is because the laws are strict and sweeping discretion by the judges is not allowed. I wish to narrate a good case when I was in the UK in 1997. A garden fountain pump purchased a few months back had stopped running. I opened the unit and saw there was ingress of water that had caused a short-circuit. My brother rang up the supplier and lodged a complaint. You will not believe, the supplier apologised and said that a new pump would be sent within 7 days. And sure enough, it arrived in 7 days time. The supplier did not even insist on return of the damaged pump! Such is the high level of customer service in the UK. Similarly, in 2010, I bought one woolen jacket in Reading, UK. I went to return it after 15 days. Without asking any question I was given cash refund across the table!! I was on cloud 7 that day.
Govt. departments in India behave so stubborn and grossly arrogant, and prefer going to court even when they are clearly at fault. This attitude is due to the fact that their own money is not spent in the litigation; it is the tax payers money. The govt. must pass a legislation that in consumer cases, if the govt. deptt./company loses the case, the chairman of the deptt./company must pay for the cost of litigation from his own pocket. Because, the chairman is the approving authority for entering into the litigation.Why the BSNL, RINL/VSP and APEPDCL went to court? Simply because their money was not at stake. And their advocates got a chance to make tours and stay in 4-star hotels at the cost of the tax payers. Is it not stupid of the government to allow such wastage of public money?? Such irresponsible governance can happen only in India --- a country of morons--- where there is no accountability, no responsibility and only authority which officials like to enjoy day in and day out.
I have made a list of some 50 points that need improvement/amendment in the C.P. Act 1986. Why do I have to make these 50 suggestions? Because there is no think tank in the government to improve the work procedures. Our laws are archaic and not changing with the changing times. I shall be getting this printed in the form of a book titled "Legal Battles Lost and Won". It will also contain a false criminal case that was foisted against me , but I fought and won after appealing in the higher court. Two gratuity cases and one case from the UK are also there. All these cases expose the corruption that goes on behind the scene, and it is pure luck / providence if one gets justice. But this may take 1-2 years time as I am busy with my technical book that is being published on royalty basis in the UK.
Why are our lower courts so dirty and stinking? Toilets are jammed. There is no water in the toilets...... shabby, torn curtains are hanging, even the table cloth on the judge's tables are not clean, passenger lift, if provided, rarely works! What has happened top our judicial system? I visited the Birmingham Court in 2012 in the UK and was so impressed to see --- it was like a 4-star hotel with squeaky clean furniture, wall - to- wall carpets, cushion chairs for all ( no wooden benches as in India) a smart receptionist to guide litigants, no crowd because all litigants have been given separate timings and due to this the court halls are quite small. We have to learn a lot from the UK, because the UK once ruled the world and even though it is 1/13 the size on India it ruled over us also for 200 yrs. It was because of the superior knowledge, good systems of governance and military might. We have to improve on these fronts if "Achchey Din" is to become a reality. more