File a Consumer Complaint in India
We are all consumers of goods and services in some way. The time we breed on this land becomes consumers and we have the right to seek help under the Consumer Protection Act. These days we see that consumers are being deceived and abused in many ways.
Sometimes they are offered substandard goods, sometimes a smaller quantity than required, and sometimes the buyer is charged higher prices than other goods. Retailers view consumers as consumers who can afford to pay and may try to deceive them in any way they can. There has therefore been a strong need to protect consumers.
Although we have certain laws that protect consumers to some extent it is written as follows:
• Indian Contract Act, 1872
• Commercial Real Estate Act, 1936
• Safety and Food Act, 2006
• Measurement Standards Act, 1976
• Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952
• Agricultural Production (Grading and Performing) Act of 1937
• Indian Standards Institution (Certification Mark) Act, 1952, etc.
But these laws include the completion of a costly and time-consuming and costly public case that ultimately leads to a conviction.
It is therefore imperative that it be heard that a Special Consumer Act should be enacted that will provide faster and easier access to justice for consumers. The legislature did not want legal technology to be part of an action that provides consumer freedom. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, was therefore passed with due regard by the Government of India to the need to protect Consumer Protection Act.
What is a Consumer Complaint?
As a consumer, you have several rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. If the retailer has sold you a defective product or service provider has provided an inadequate service, you may want to be exempt from the law by completing a Consumer Complaint.
A Consumer Complaint is a formal complaint against a retailer or service provider and is lodged before an appropriate consumer forum (also called a consumer court). A complaint is lodged when the seller or service provider fails to resolve the issue even after receiving official notice.
The complaint contains details and written proof of a defective product and/or service, as well as compensation and assistance for you. Consumer Courts in India are different from other courts and have been established specifically to provide consumer assistance and are therefore known for providing fast and efficient legal aid.
What Are the Benefits or Remedies Available for Consumer Complaints?
• Total refund of payment made.
• Good repairs or service shortages will be remedied.
• Replacement of a defective product.
• Reimbursement of all legal costs incurred in lodging a complaint.
• Compensation for any loss or suffering (including mental pain).
• The seller may be ordered to stop trading illegally.
• The complaint may be lodged in the District / Government, where the seller resides or conducts his business, or at the place where the service was purchased or rendered.
• If the sale or purchase is made online, the location specified in terms of the dispute resolution service, on the seller's website, will be selected to lodge a complaint.
Who Can File a Consumer Complaint?
At first, it is clear that the consumer may have filed a complaint against an immoral, dishonest businessman. Clarification, in terms of Section 2 of the Act, a Complainant may:
• any registered voluntary consumer organization; or
• Central government or any national government; or
• One or more buyers, where there are multiple buyers with similar interests; or
• In the event of the death of the consumer, heir, or legal representative.
And if so, if a person wants to lodge a complaint under the Act where he or she is required to send a notice to the opposing party (seller or trader) to pay the same. If he or she ignores the notice the Consumer may go to Court.
Reasons to lodge consumer complaints
1.Unfair trading habits:
Making a very high profit is the ultimate goal of every business. However, fraudulent practices such as customer fraud, improper marking, and other misconduct continue to plague the market. Unfair trade is a broad period of time and includes cases of negligence in which municipal officials have failed to provide a warning sign during road construction.
Also, an independent contractor was found guilty of unfair trade by not closing the hole that led to the accident. Therefore, if there is any kind of unfair trading practice involved in any transaction, the buyer has the right to lodge a consumer complaint before the appropriate forum.
Mixing food and other items to reduce the rate and increase profits is considered a consumer misconduct and a crime under the Indian Penal Code. Mixing salt and sawdust or mixing ghee with "dalda" are some of the similar examples.
Even drug fraud also falls within the scope of improper consumer actions. Adultery is dangerous for consumer use and threatens health. Therefore, consumers should always complain about food adultery.
3.Short weights and scales
The general store in most cases deceives consumers by rating products below what they should actually measure. The weight scale will show one kilogram, but in reality, the product will weigh about 800 grams. These types of misconduct are considered to be the biggest threat to consumer interests.
In this generation of fast technology, everything is available online. Some misconceptions about buying goods online often try to mislead consumers by providing false information. The scope of the consumer protection act is so broad that it includes online harassment as well.
5.Failure to keep promises
If a company has made a promise then it must ensure that it will keep it. Some promises sound good but if they can't stand the promise it will lead to a lot of complaints, distrust and switching to competing companies.
6.Poor customer service
When customer service representatives are untrained and do not know how to communicate effectively with customers, they keep customers waiting too long and fail to resolve issues, which is then known as poor customer service. Sometimes representatives fail to solve simple problems and are unable to answer simple questions. When they are not able to solve their problems consumer complaints will start to creep in.
Therefore, these are just some of the reasons why a consumer may file a complaint.
Rights of Consumer
The basic rights that every consumer has and are provided for in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 by -
1) Right to be protected from unfair trade practices.
2) Right to know the goods or services well.
3) Right to be assured that goods or services are of the required standard.
4) Right to a trial for infringement.
5) Right to seek redress in the event of damage.
6) Right to consumer education.
If any of these basic consumer rights are violated then it is the consumer's responsibility to lodge a consumer complaint. Consumer appeal will not only benefit the consumer but also benefit the community as a whole.
Types of errors you can complain about
• Poor work
• Unauthorized construction
• Construction of illegally acquired land
• Cheating on bookings
• Alteration of land use, zoning plan, buildings with the approval of the grantors
• Hidden charges
• Advanced external development costs
• Project cancellation
• Total deductions
• Delivery delays
• Third-party fertility
• Failure to issue a certificate of completion
JURISDICTION OF THE FORUM/COMMISSION MANAGEMENT
Under the Act, the following are three levels of Consumer Court in which the consumer resolves his or her dispute:
1. District Consumer Dispute Resolution Forum (District Forum) - This is established by the State in each region with the approval of the Central Government.
2. State Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission (also known as the State Commission) - This is established by the State Government in all provinces with the approval of the Central Government.
3. National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (Known by the National Commission) - This is established by the Central Government.
With regard to the mandate of the above forums / Commissions:
1.Territorial Jurisdiction: Has the power to control the area in which the residence/business of the opposition party has acted and where the action has taken.
2. Pecuniary Jurisdiction: Powerful in relation to the number of goods or services.
Upto Rs. 2,00,000 / - of the relief sought, the appeal is lodged before the district court.
From Rs. 2,00,000 / - to Rs.1,00,00,000/ -, the State Commission has the authority to hear an appeal.
When the claim exceeds Rs.1,00,00,000/ - then the National Commission takes action.
An appeal lodged before a consumer court at the District, State or National level must be supported by all relevant documents and fees prescribed in terms of the Act which compares with public suits. The average time to lodge an appeal is two years from the date the action was taken.
The remedies available to the complainant are as follows:
• Errors/deficiencies in goods and services.
• Changing goods & services.
• Refund of the amount paid for services/goods.
• Compensation for loss or damage received by goods and services.
• Compensation for damage to the team.
State Commissions have the power to deal with appeals against orders passed by District Councils within 30 days from the date of the order.
The second appeal was made to the National Commission against the orders issued by the state commission and the last appeal was made to the Supreme Court of India against the orders of the National Commission.
How do you file Consumer Complaint?
STEP 1: SEND A WRITTEN NOTICE
The first step is to send a written notice to the Merchant or Manufacturer explaining the problem and the reason why you are not happy with the product or service.
Must have your notice:
In the notice, you should not:
For applications over Rs. 10,000, it is highly recommended that you contact a lawyer and send a notification through an attorney, to the official letterhead. This will show the seller that you are willing to take legal action.
IMPORTANT TIPS IN CONSUMER NOTICE:
1) Consumer notice must be sent by registered mail only either by Registered AD or Speed Post and proof of delivery must be kept for future reference and proof.
2) The name and address of the service provider as stated in the receipt must be clearly stated at the time of sending the consumer notice.
3) The name and address of the buyer must also be specified directly in the buyer's notice.
4) If the service provider has a website, site, and complaints section, please subscribe to the same content on the said site.
STEP 2: WAIT FOR THE SELLER to respond
Once you have submitted a legal notice, it is likely that the company will respond to your case. Others may offer you compensation. At this stage, you should know what compensation is acceptable to you.
Claiming a higher price as compensation will not get you anywhere as the courts will not please you. If there is no response within the stipulated time, usually 15 days, you are entitled to attend the consumer forum.
STEP 3: CHOOSE A Correct FORUM
Depending on the amount of goods or services you have purchased or the compensation you want, you can go to the relevant consumer forum/commission, ie, Regional Forum, State Commission, or National Commission.
You have the opportunity to lodge a complaint in person or to appoint a lawyer to represent you in court. The duration of the trial may be between 6 and 18 months.
STEP 4: CONSUMER COURT fee for Consumer Complaint
To file a consumer complaint, you must pay court costs:
If the case is decided in your favor, the Court will show the seller to compensate you including all your legal costs, such as court fees and attorney's fees.
Step 5: After that, you should write down your complaint setting out the facts needed to find a reason to do something.
Step 6: At the end of the appeal you must submit your signatures. In the event that any other person is authorized to lodge a complaint, the complaint must be accompanied by a letter of authority.
Step 7: Do not forget to specify the name, description, and address of the complainant and the name, description, address of the opposing party or the parties to whom assistance is sought.
Step 8: Copies of all documents supporting your allegations. In this case, you can write down a copy of the purchased goods bill, warranty, and confirmation documents as well as a copy of the written complaint and notice made to the trader asking him to fix the product.
Step 9: You can also claim compensation costs that are directly to blame in the complaint. In addition to compensation, the buyer can also claim a refund, damages, costs, and interest rates. You should give the split of the money mentioned under different headings but remember to apply for compensation or other relief in terms of the amount of the forums.
Step 10: Explain in your complaint how the case falls within the jurisdiction of the forum.
Step 11: The complaint must clearly state what assistance is available to the other person.
Step 12: The law provides for a maximum of two years from the date of cause of action. In the event of a delay in lodging an appeal, please specify a delay that may be approved by the Tribunal.
Step 13: You are also required to submit an affidavit and complaint that the facts stated in the complaint are true and correct.
Step 14: The complainant can lodge a complaint in person or through his or her authorized representative without the involvement of any lawyer. An appeal may be submitted by registered mail. At least 5 copies of the complaint must be submitted to that forum. Otherwise, you must send additional copies to each opposing party.
For regional forums
Up to Rs 1 lakh: Rs 100
Between Rs 1-5 lakh: Rs 200
Between Rs 5-10 lakh: Rs 400
• More than Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh: Rs 500
For state forums
• More than Rs 20 lakh but less than Rs 50 lakh: Rs 2,000
• Over Rs 50 lakh up to Rs 1 crore: Rs 4,000
For the National Commission
• A standard amount of Rs 5,000
Where can you lodge a complaint?
District Consumer Dispute Resolution Forum (DCDRF): Known as the "Regional Council" established by the State Government in all State states. The State Government may establish more than one Regional Forum in a region. It is a regional court with up to 10 million cases
State Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission (SCDRC): Known as the "State Commission" established by the State Government in the State is a state court with jurisdiction of less than 100 million.
National Consumer Dispute Resolution Commission (NCDRC): Established by the Central Government working on more than 100 million issues
After the Submission of the complaint is successful, the complainant will be provided with an electronic number known as Complaint Number. The same number can be used to track the status of an appeal until the problem is resolved.
One can even raise multiple complaints using the same verification log. The consumer can track the same with online mode. Following the progress of the complaint and its subsequent resolution, both the goods & service provider and the consumer will be able to track the progress of the complaint.
* Many complaints can be filed using the same record on IDs and can be tracked online.
* Messages sent to this product and to the consumer are also available for viewing to track progress.
* Complaints may be lodged in both Hindi and English languages.
Consumers need to know more about their rights and need to resist bad practices by retailers.
This blog/article is an attempt to educate consumers on how to lodge a consumer complaint and take action against retailers who engage in these unfair trade practices. We all need to be careful and careful about the quality and quantity of goods we buy from retailers and it is our job to spread awareness about consumer rights in the community.
UPDATE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
Mentioned below are some of the important feature of the new Act 2019
Protect E-Commerce Purchases: The New Act now includes consumer who buys any goods, whether through offline or online transactions, electronic means, teleshopping, direct selling or multi-level marketing. The previous Act did not specifically include e-commerce purchases, this gap has been built by the New Act.
E-Filing: The New Act provides flexibility to the consumer to file a complaint with the District Consumer Commission or State Consumer Commission from anywhere, home, office or anywhere else.
Unlike the current practice where the consumers are required to file a case only at the place where the product was purchased or where the seller of the product has his registered office.
It also has provisions for consumers to file complaints electronically and for hearing parties through video-conferencing. This is to avoid inconvenience and harassment to the consumers.
Creation of the CCPA: CCPA is the Central Consumer Protection Authority set up by the Central Govt. It promotes, protects, and executes the rights of consumers. The Director-General leads the investigation wing, which conducts inquiry or investigation into consumer law violations.
It has been granted powers to take suo-moto actions, recall products, demand reimbursement of the price of goods or services, terminate licenses, and file class-action suits if a consumer complaint affects more than 1 (one) individual.
Product Liability & Penal Consequences: The New Act has introduced the idea of product liability and brings in its scope, the product manufacturer, product service supplier, and merchandise seller, for any claim for compensation.
The term product seller is defined to incorporate someone who is concerned in putting the product for an advertisement purpose and as such would include e-commerce platforms also. The defense that e-commerce platforms simply act as platforms or aggregators won't be accepted.
There are increased liability risks for makers as compared to product-service suppliers and product sellers, considering that under the New Act, makers are going to be liable in product liability action even wherever he proves that he wasn't negligent or dishonest in creating the express warranty of a product.
Certain exceptions are provided under the New Act from liability claims, such as, that the product vendor won't be liable where the product has been ill-used, altered, or changed.
Unfair Trade Practices: The New Act introduces a broad definition of Unfair Trade Practices, which includes sharing of private data given by the buyer in confidence unless such disclosure is made in accordance with the provisions of any other law.
Penalties for deceptive Advertisement: The CCPA might impose a penalty of up to INR 1 Million on a manufacturer or an endorser, for a false or deceptive ad. The CCPA may additionally sentence them to imprisonment for up to 2 years for the same.
Just in case of a subsequent offence, the fine might reach INR 5 Million and imprisonment of up to 5 years. The CCPA may also forbid the endorser of a deceptive ad from endorsing that specific product or service for a period of up to 1 year. for each subsequent offence, the period of prohibition might extend to 3 years.
The New Act fixes liability on endorsers considering that there have been numerous instances in the recent past wherever customers have fallen prey to unfair trade practices under the influence of celebrities acting as brand ambassadors.
In such cases, it becomes necessary for the endorser to take the concern and exercise due diligence to verify the truthfulness of the claims created in the ad to refute liability claims.