Consumer Rights In India

One buys a product assuming that it will function as per its specifications. But when it doesn’t, then the seller gives the buyer a hard time and tries to quote some section in the bill which is in font 2, saying as per that section it is not possible to refund or replace the faulty product. Then the buyer is in a dilemma, whether to pay extra for the repair cost or file a case against the seller. In almost all the cases, the buyer chooses the former options for a variety of reasons, the most important being, who is going to visit the court for years to fight for this injustice.

In this blog entry, I am going to try and convince you to choose the latter option with my own experience.

A. On 19th Feb. 2020 I ordered ASUS laptop (worth Rs 1.2 lakh), which was delivered on 24th Feb. On 5th March. I realized that it doesn't get connected to a projector. I complained to customer care on the same day.

ASUS engineer came to check on 9th & 12th March and told that it has got some manufacturing defect. ASUS wanted to take my brand-new laptop and "repair" it. I told them that I do not trust their product and I need a refund.

ASUS declined it. There were over 15 emails & countless calls to ASUS spanning 7 months, but it seems they were adamant on repairing part.

Then I filed a complaint in October 2020 against ASUS Technology Pvt. Ltd. in Consumer court, Bandra with a request to refund + Rs. 1 lakh compensation. Once my petition was admitted by Hon. Judge, I informed the same to ASUS.

Miraculously, now ASUS wanted to initiate the procedure for a refund.

I got my money back by January 2021.

B. With the same money, then I bought OMEN HP laptop on 31st March 2021 from Reliance Digital Retail Limited, Mulund. The screen freezing problem started appearing in June 2021. I tried to call Reliance Digital Mulund for them to visit me and check the laptop. But their team asked me to come to the store with the laptop. While selling the laptop, their sales team was boasting about their post-sales customer care experience.

I went to Reliance Digital Mulund on 16th August 2021 and after checking the laptop, the technician informed me that there was a BIOS update issue that was pending and now it had been resolved after the BIOS update. That, however, did not resolve the issue.

I registered a complaint by calling HP customer care number on 18th August 2021. HP customer care executive did the Windows update and informed that the problem is resolved and closed the case. That, too, did not resolve the issue.

HP service engineer replaced the SSD on 3rd September 2021 and informed that the problem is resolved. But that did not resolve the issue.

On 14.10.2021 HP service engineer replaced the motherboard. But that did not resolve the issue.

Later HP wanted to take the faulty laptop and repair it in their workshop. To that, I said, No. I had been overly patient with HP’s trial and error. I informed them that either they refund my money or I will file a complaint in Consumer Forum, Bandra.

HP thought I was bluffing initially, so they did not pay heed to my request. But when I sent them a formal complaint letter to them, then they paid my money in full.

The conclusion from the above examples is that big brands care too much about their brand value in the market. Any reference of any consumer case in social media can hamper their product sales. Therefore, every dissatisfied consumer should approach the consumer forum. The procedure is also extremely simple.

Steps to file a complaint in consumer forum:

Step 1: Write a formal complaint letter (word file, pdf and sign) to the company and send it via speed post/registered post or courier. Please make sure you get the receipt that your post has reached the company. Refer to Annexure D for reference. I had used a lawyer for the same, but it is unnecessary.

Step 2: Wait for 1 month (after the post has reached) for the company’s reply.

Step 3: Assuming there is no reply from the company, prepare the following documents; Take the print on green paper. Sign on each page as a true copy. Also, sign at relevant sections.

a. Index (refer page A)

b. Synopsis (refer page 1 to 2)

c. Main complaint (refer page 3 to 7)

d. Affidavit (refer to page 8). No stamp paper is required.

e. List of documents (refer page 9)

f. Annexure A (Aadhaar card – photocopy)

g. Annexure B (product purchase bill - photocopy)

h. Annexure C (email correspondence with the company)

i. Annexure D (copy of the legal notice sent to the company with the postal receipt that post was received by the company)

j. Memorandum of address (refer page 57)

k. Statement of the claim (refer page 58)

Step 4: Make 4 sets of the above documents. One copy will be with you for future reference. Each of the remaining sets shall be put in hard paper folders and submitted in person to the nearest consumer forum. I had gone to Bandra consumer forum. This step is called submitting a petition to the court. They don’t give any receipt of that submission.

Step 5: After a week, you will get a call from the consumer forum clerk that you have an appointment with the hon. Judge.

Step 6: You explain your case to the hon. Judge and if he/she is satisfied, then your case will be admitted. This time the company representative will not be there. Hon. Judge will give you a date. On this date, you and the company representative will fight the case further.

Step 7: Well, this (Tarikh pe Tarikh) goes on for months or years. But mostly company initiates out-of-court settlements.

Please refer to the below links for the reference attachments.

Ajay. S. Satpute

16th March 2022