Well, now I have decided to make people aware of a very important right they have so that they are not exploited every day by anybody. Before moving further, I wanted to ask you a question - what are consumer courts and how are cases registered in a consumer court? So, make you understand better, Consumer courts are nowadays,more commonly known as Consumer forums and are only meant to serve and resolve the issues of ‘we’ consumers. A consumer can have multiple issues against organizations like malls, banks or any other organization that provides services to consumers.
So, now my next question is what is the need for simple people like us to go to a consumer court? According to the Consumer Protection Act 1986, any organization that fails to deliver its services as promised or violates any other consumer rights are obligated to be questioned by the Consumer Courts/Forums set up by the government.
Though these forums are set up to protect the consumer rights, they cannot do so until and unless the customers can generate or present with proof that they were harassed or exploited by a particular seller. Proofs can be anything- bills or other documents, videos, etc. So, what are the documents that need to be submitted to validate the complaint?Anything that supports the allegations made by the customers that can help make the judiciary in the consumer courts to give the verdict in favor of the customers can be provided as a proof.
But how can a consumer who has been harassed or exploited by a seller file a report against the crime committed? It is essential to distinguish between the cases which can be resolved using alternatives and the ones which cannot be because no one would want the unnecessary burden of a court case on their shoulders.
Now, the next question is ….are there alternatives to resort to, other than visiting the consumer court? There are various alternatives available which can be used instead of filing a consumer complaint. Cases like defective mobile devices or any other electronics goods need not always be the fault of the retailer instead can be there right from the manufacturing of the product. In such cases, consumer complaint can be avoided and the manufacturer can be contacted directly if the product is in the warranty period.
One of the victims have recently given a consumer tip that helped her a lot:
Consumer Tip: It has been my experience that companies are quite sensitive to any negative feedback posted as a web page article, be it your own website or even a consumer-oriented website, e.g. MouthShut. After posting separate negative reviews about Pepperfry and Infibeam and informing them, I was able to get the required refunds (although for Pepperfry I could not get the full shipping costs).
Well, talking about so much facts related to the consumer and the consumer rights, but where is the role of the government? Has the government facilitated the ease of registering and filing complaints in the consumer courts? Apart from the consumer forums, the government has also created online sites and portals to open complaints. CORE website National Consumer Helpline and the National Consumer Helpline- 1800 11 4000 are a few means that can be used by a customer as an alternative to filing a consumer complaint.
Today, you can very well see how much is the company as well as the government in favor of our consumers. Gone are those days when consumers could do nothing against the dominant retailers because they needed their services. With the increase in online marketing, things seem to get worse as the concept of “What-you-see-is-what-you-get” is never completely followed. It is time to put a stop on this reign of terror of the retailers, online or otherwise, to do what they are supposed to, serve the customers.
Now, let's move ahead and so if you are with me at this phase of the article let’s discuss the steps a consumer needs to follow in order to file a consumer complaint- and believe be these are simple !!
1. Some simple questions need to be cleared before moving ahead ….Is the subject of complaint less than Rs. 100,000? District consumer forum is the right place to go to. These forums are established by the State Government in each district and currently, there are 610 District consumer forums up and running.
2. While filing the complaint, print the details of the complaint along with the address of the organization against which the complaint is being filed. The address can be obtained from the official websites of the organization.
3. What else is the question …?
A verified affidavit must be submitted along with your printed complaint in order to prove that you are the person you are claiming to be and that you take full responsibility of the complaint you are filing in your sane mind.
4. So what do I need to pay for it? Find out the amount to be paid while filing these complaints (mostly Rs. 100) and create a Demand Draft in the name of the President of the respective District/ Urban Consumer Forum.
5. Posting the complaint along with the verified affidavit might require a total of Rs.40 worth of stamps as per the current standards set by RPAD (Registered Post Acknowledgement Due).
6. After posting the complaint to the District/Urban Consumer forum, wait for the acknowledgement. The acknowledgement might be sent through post requesting a visit to the office or in a call to inform the consumer regarding the case number. This acknowledgement might take a few days to arrive.
7. Along with the case number, the consumer will also be informed about the date on which the first hearing is to take place and the address of the District Forum the consumer must report to. Always file the complaint when you don't have any plans to leave the city in the next few days or weeks. Missing out on the days of hearing will cost you.
8. The first hearing is pretty basic. The judge will ask the consumer regarding the details of the complaint and provide the Opposition Party a period of 30 days to prepare for the next hearing where they must come up with the summons/copy of the complaint.
9. Now, there are a number of things that can happen next. Either the Opposition Party will decide not to show up in the court, in which case they will be deemed as ex-parte after a second consecutive no-show, or they will try to resolve the matter out of the court by getting in touch with you. Also, the Opposition Party might appear in the court, in which case the hearing will take place and after listening to both the sides, the judge will come to a decision.
10. In the case of settlement outside the court, if both the parties are satisfied with the outcome of the settlement, the court only makes you sign an agreement and doesn't ask for details of the settlement and only maintains a record of it.
These are some basic steps a consumer must know about. Fagnum believes that having knowledge about your rights as a consumer and acting upon them will not only resolve an issue but make you and the seller a better citizen of this country! Follow these simple steps and believe me justice is not far away from you. This is how the consumer courts are at your doorstep to protect the rights of our consumers and to not let big MNC‘s cheat their consumers and believe them blindly!!