How to get justice from errant service or goods providers?

Redressal of consumer complaints can entail approaching the insurance ombudsman, the consumer courts and even taking help of social media, RTI and police complaints. There are options available today to build pressure on errant service or goods providers so that they do the needful

 

A letter from Mohan Siroya, chairperson of the Consumer Complaints Cell, gives three examples of consumer power success using the help of the insurance ombudsman, Right to Information (RTI), social media activism and police complaints. Today, justice will be served if you are persistent in your efforts to pursue the errant service or goods provider. A consumer court may not be able to help in the absence of the postal address, but alternate means exists.


Case 1: A senior citizen was hospitalized in Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai. New India Assurance Company refused to pay the claim of Rs12,148 submitted in August 2010. It argued about the lack of the original hospital bill/receipt, even though the insured provided documentary proof of having submitted the same. The insurer wrote a letter to the hospital asking for certain documents, including the hospital bill. It was but natural for the hospital to write the word ‘Duplicate’ on the bill as the original was already issued at the time of discharge. The insurer refused to accept this and declined to reimburse the claimed amount.
 

In the complaint to the insurance ombudsman, there was a claim of not only the claim amount but also‘compensation’ for undue delay in not settling/refusing to settle the claim on a flimsy or false ground and deliberate “mental torture” caused to a senior citizen. The ombudsman passed an award granting not only of the claimed amount, but also a penalty of Rs2,000, directly favouring the complainant in settlement within three working days, failing which  a fine of Rs500 would be payable  by the company for each day of delay. Usually, the ombudsman does not levy penalty, but it did in this case on the insurance company for wrongful delay and refusal.

Case 2: A consumer had purchased two heaters, which were offered cheap on the Deal92.com website as an online transaction. The online payment was made through a credit card. When the consumer received the ordered goods they were found in broken and in non-usable condition. The consumer protested on the only ‘email’ address available demanding either the replacement of goods or refund of entire paid amount. There was no response even after reminders. The National Consumer Helpline was unable to take the complaint for redressal in absence of any postal address of Deal92.com. Mr Siroya took recourse of putting this complaint on social networking websites. That defiled their name and potential customers were cautioned. The aggrieved consumer was also advised to raise a formal dispute to deny the payment made to the online merchant and treat it as a fraudulent transaction. This was done and a temporary credit was given in his account. This was further refurbished, when a complaint was filed with the cyber cell regarding this online fraud and praying to ban the seller’s website. That made Deal92.com to act. They refunded the entire amount to the same credit card account.

Case 3:  As a consumer activist, Mohan Siroya had filed a case at the MIDC police station for having received a threat on his mobile in May 2010, “threatening me to stop lodging complaints against the companies for Consumer Cause and Protection”. This particular case he was referring for the company “Fedders Lloyd” against which a complaint was sent by him to the then Union minister for civil supplies and consumer protection, Sharad Pawar. Another non-cognisable (NC) complaint was filed by him in the MIDC police station against a firm called “Modern Tech Services” for having failed to give the contracted service for second year of the contract. Mr Siroya tried to contact the firm’s office and proprietor but all the listed phones were not working/not in existence. A written notice was sent by Mr Siroya to the postal address printed in the contract/letter head. It transpired that now in that premises some other business, by some other party, was carried out. Mr Siroya filed a complaint of cheating and fraud for having failed to give the contracted service or refund of 50% of paid amount against the firm, whose address was now ‘Unknown’.


The police was requested to find out the person in whose account the cheque/ money was paid and his whereabouts. Mr Siroya made an application under RTI to know the progress. It came in mere two words “Under Investigation”. He then appealed to the First Appellate Authority (FAA) for specific “status/progress” of investigations made, besides complaint of delay in providing information. The FAA also simply ordered “As earlier informed Under Investigation”. The order reached Mr Siroya beyond 45 days of appeal date, thus another violation of the Act without giving any reasons for delay.
 

Mr Siroya went in for a second appeal to the SCIC (State Chief Information Commissioner), who within five months, heard his appeal. On the eve of hearing date, a police constable personally came to his home to deliver a letter that said, “In first NC, the police filed a case against one Mr Gupta under Section 504, 506 of IPC.” The second NC complaint against Modern Tech Services was of civil nature and I should go to the civil/consumer court,” Mr Siroya said.


In the hearing, the SCIC upheld delays under the Act and also for suppressing the available investigation progress/report on record. The Authority also agreed with the interpretation that in absence of a party whose whereabouts are unknown, is covered under ‘Fraud’ and thus the police is supposed to take cognisance of the same.
 

The SCIC further gave two specific directions—to summon the SPIO (State Public Information Officer) in person to explain “Why penalty under Section19 (8) (g) and Section 20 (1) should not be levied on him”, failing which orders will be passed under Section 20 (2)”. “Another landmark relief for me was that the concerned offices should furnish me an opportunity to inspect the information so far available on record on all such files free of charge. After two days, police started investigating about the address of the payee through the banking channels,” Mr Siroya stated.


The police machinery worked overtime, gave Mr Siroya updated information in both the cases, one through the CBI, as Fedders Lloyd Co was from Delhi. The other one they traced through the banking channel in Mumbai and made him to refund Rs1,000 in cash.
 

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    User

    COMMENTS

    RAM CHANDER

    2 years ago

    BE AWARE OF THE http://www.dealsshock.com as delivering the fake products . I HAVE COMPLAINED AGAINST IN POLICE AS THE ISSUE BY EXPOSING THIS ON LINE IS NOT TAKEN UP BY ANYONE .. ONLY THING IS WE CAN WRITE DOWN HERE . MANY TIMES I HAVE PUT THE COMPLIAN. BUT NO ACTION S TAKEN UP. DEALS DONE AND PROMILA ENTERPRISE IS WORKING IN COLLABORATION WITH http://WWW.DEALSSHOCK.COM. MY MOB. NO. IS 8053300895 AND MAILID IS [email protected] I HAVE RECEIVED THE CALLS FROM MANY CLIENTS WHO HAVE BEEN DUPED .

    RAMESH VASWANI

    6 years ago

    I AM BEING DEPRIVED OF MY RIGHTFUL DUES BY LIC OF INDIA.
    THE BRANCH MANAGER AGREED THAT HE WILL PAY LUMPSUM (SURRENDER VALUE)INSTEAD OF ANNUITIES, MERELY BY SIMPLE APPLICATION. BUT THE AMOUNT QUOTED WAS SO LOW THAT THE RATE OF RETURN FOR 5 YEAR POLICY COMES TO 0.003% P.A., WHICH INDICATED THAT THERE WAS SOME ERROR IN CALCULATING THE AMOUNT TO BE PAID. BRANCH MANAGER TRANSFERRED, NO RESPONSE TO THE MAILS SENT, NOT EVEN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. MAILS SENT TO HO, TOO WENT UNRESPONDED. CAN I FILE RTI ?

    REPLY

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to RAMESH VASWANI 6 years ago

    Mr Ramesh Vasvani
    Yes, U must . Shubhsya Shighram .
    Also go on LIC website and express your disgust by way of "Feed Back".

    Mohan Siroya

    nagesh kini

    In Reply to RAMESH VASWANI 6 years ago

    Suggest you file a complaint with the Insurance Ombudsman for relief.

    ashwin bahl

    6 years ago

    Impossible task as far too heavy and time consuming,too much paper work, wheels of justice simply do not move at all, a simple case of checque bouncing case takes years so what can we expect from these bodies also?

    nagesh kini

    6 years ago

    My experiences with the Insurance and Income Tax Ombudsman have been quite rewarding.They are relatively quick and professional in the disposal, much better than Consumer Forums that are already clogged and lawyer-date driven.
    It is time our people approach the Ombudsman for faster justice redressal.
    That Maharashtra and Goa have no Insurance Ombudsman is another matter.

    REPLY

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to nagesh kini 6 years ago

    Sorry Mr. Nagesh , your statement that Maharashtra and Goa does not have the Insurance OMBUDSMAN is not true. My very story of triumph was created by the Omb.M & G .
    Mohan Siroya

    nagesh kini

    In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 6 years ago

    please see my response below to arun's comment.

    Resham Thakur

    6 years ago

    I totally agree with Mr. Raj Pradhan. we should have more inter active sessions on consumer & general grievance redressal mechanism. It's high time Money Life Foundation should start an aggressive grievance redressal & anti corruption forum.

    Jai Hind !

    ashok patil

    6 years ago

    Generally Higher officers of all companies are worried about their company reputation. Hence they will take complaint very seriously and solve immediately.

    But employees who are directly in touch with customers are not consumer friendly and behave without social responsibility and accountability.

    Hence, first try to solve disputes at sale's point. If it is not solved, directly write a complaint to Highest officer of the company.

    If it is not solved then approach Regulatory body, Ombudsman or consumer forum/commission.

    Before filing a complaint, first buildup a file to prove your case with evidence, so that manufacturer or service provider can't escape from the clutches of law.

    REPLY

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to ashok patil 6 years ago

    Thanks for Comments Mr. Ashok Patil . I am sure that normal redressal procedure is not applicable to ONLINE SELLERS/TRANSACTIONS. AND THERE IS NO STATUTORY REGULATOR FOR THEM . THE ONLY REMEDY , the Consumers have at present is file a complaint to National Consumer Protection either by phone or on web or file a case in the Consumer Forum ,provided one has the POSTAL ADDRESS of the seller .
    And we are talking of not the MNCs of repute but 'Fly by Night" online sellers who have mushroomed in dime and dozens.

    Mohan Siroya

    arun

    6 years ago

    Getting your consumer complaint admitted in Mumbai State Commission and District Forums is a nightmare.

    My friend had come from Solapur to file a complaint against an insurance company in the State Commission. His complaint was rejected because he did not follow the 45 point check list. He went back to Solapur and prepared the complaint again and came to Mumbai to deposit his complaint. His complaint was again rejected because he had mentioned the names of the OP. When he pointed out that the names of OP are a requirement in 45 point check list. The clerk said that this is technical matter and he will have problems later on. He went back to Solapur and again prepared new set of papers without name of OP and came back to Mumbai to submit his papers. Again the documents were rejected because he was required to put a cover page with defined format. The clerk gave him the new format sheet and that was placed after making copies. The complaint was again rejected this time because the claims were not written separately in separate paper. My friend had written the claims in continuation just after the complaint statements as we usually do in all cases filed all over India. The consumer went back and prepared the case papers again and came to Mumbai to submit. After much hue and cry the case papers were accepted.

    The clerk then told the consumer to come for admission hearing. My friend went back to Solapur and then came again to Mumbai to attend the admission hearing. This time the file was with judge. The judge asked him to prepare the file as per the sequence with index paper as first page and submit again. He also asked him to keep a lawyer to make things easy.

    The consumer went back to Solapur and returned again after making the index paper properly. This time the judge asked him to remove the names of the staff of the OP from the complaint. My friend told the judge that when he is preparing the affidavit of evidence he has to mention the correct facts and correct names, without which the affidavit will not be effective. The judge fired him for arguing and asked him to prepare the full documents again.
    Now the consumer has gone back to Solapur and is in double mind whether to file the case or not.

    It is real shame that when cases are accepted through normal procedure in all the courts in India, Mumbai consumer courts want to make things difficult for consumers so that they do not file cases.

    Previously the Mumbai courts invented a novel way by forcing complainants to make cases in Marathi with english translation as mandatory requirement. But this was scrapped off when there was resistance from many social workers and activists.

    To be on lighter side...my friend told me that it is much easier to get train reservation to Mumbai despite high season but not possible to get the case admitted in consumer court. He has wasted thousands of sheets of papers, printing inks, wasted a lot of money in xeroxes, traveling to Mumbai from Solapur but failed to get his case admitted to the State Consumer Commission.

    Now I doubt whether he will return back to the State Commission to file his case.

    REPLY

    nagesh kini

    In Reply to arun 6 years ago

    Arun's friend is not the only one.
    The Consumer Fora are as bad as any court. They are lawyer driven. In my case against the then Indian Airlines, their lawyer obtained adjournment on the grounds of the air crash at Aurangabad that has nothing to do with the commercial matter of refund against lost ticket.

    If an Insurance Ombudsman has now been appointed is another matter. We were told by the Secretary that there was none since Oct,2012.

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to nagesh kini 6 years ago

    THERE IS POINT FOR CLARIFICATION.
    Thee are vancancies caused by retirement or resignation and even in the Government /Semi-Government levels, replacement takes time as with SICs under RTI act in so many states.
    THe peculiar thing about Insurance Ombudsman is his salary or the entire financial burden of his office is borne by the Association of Insurance Companies( only Nationalized ones)against whose interest he makes an award. So when the Govt.itself takes its own sweet time for appointments ,they may take more liberties.But that does not mean that the Office of the Insu. Ombudsman has stopped accepting cases. Definitely the pendency of cases will be much larger for want of disposal; hence more waiting time for complainants.

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to arun 6 years ago

    My full sympathies with this "Unfortunate Consumer" and as replied by RAJ, thanks for sharing this experience.
    Just one more suggestion. Let the consumer put his complaint on 'National Consumer Protection' Portal .

    raj

    In Reply to arun 6 years ago

    thanks for sharing the experience.

    Joseph Fernandes

    6 years ago

    I have an issue with Timtara dot com, the online shopping portal from whom I ordered Softel snack maker and prepaid online Rs1400/- a year ago, precisely on 20th March 2012, but they did not deliver and cancelled the order unilaterally and have not yet refunded my money inspite of several calls and emails.
    Joseph Fernandes Mumbai

    REPLY

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to Joseph Fernandes 6 years ago

    Dear Mr. Fernandez

    Please approach the Consumer Complaints Cell with all details and authorise them to tak up your case. EID is [email protected]

    Dilip Davda

    6 years ago

    Flipkart– false claims of 24x7 customer support.

    Flipkart, claims to be the major distributor for Nokia product with 24x7 customer support system is a humbug online portal. I had a very bad experience with my recent order (OD 30303012312) of Nokia Lumia 620 with it. After my order, I got a mail for shipment of my goods on 12.03.13 with a tag line of delivery within 2-3 days which should have come to me by 15.03.13, but till 20.03.13 I did not have. On repeated reminders to them, I got mails after two days for another assurance of delivery by 19.03.13 and that too did not materialized. Thus my order did not got completed even after 2+3 i.e. 5 days and when I kept reminding them, they claimed that it has been lost in transit and on 20.03.13 eve I got mail for fresh shipment on 20.03.13 for which the delivery was promised by 23.03.13 and in that note, they mentioned as “Return” for earlier shipment which I could not understand. Due to assurances of delivery on two occasions i.e. on 15.03.13 and 19.03.13, I had to keep myself free at home with no fruitful results and lost some work assignments. Thus, I found no 24x7 customer support as they claimed for my order and I found lot of communication gap and totally adamant behaviors of their call centre personnel. Thus my experience with Flipkart has turned out to be a Flopkart. One should be careful while booking any product with this portal.

    By Dilip Davda, Thane.

    REPLY

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to Dilip Davda 6 years ago

    U R right MR. D Davda. Consumers should be cautious and careful before doing any "ONline Transaction".
    I would be interested to know , what is the "Status" of your purchase today.
    Mohan Siroya

    manoharlalsharma

    6 years ago

    At the cost of TIME,which is so costly and Loss-of money which is hard to earn.
    Choice is Your's/thanking yuo

    TIHARwale

    6 years ago

    in the past couple of years i had issues with SBI, IICICI,HDFC, LIC etc in all instances complaints lodged as Aam Aadmi thro proper channel failed to get response. SBI even updated that issue is resolved but then wrote to Chairmen of these organisations believe it or not the very same organisations got in touch with me and ensured resolution of the issues 9 it is for the organisations to examine why they failed to respond when issue was raised as a commoner.

    Airtel however never bothered to resolve the complaint their on line complaint facility is a big fraud, since it involved Rs 200/- only i didn't find it worth pursuing. if Airtel wants i can forward the entire email correspondence.

    IRCTC is the best as regards settling a failed a transaction.

    Sandeep

    6 years ago

    Wow! Thanks for such a useful and empowering article.

    -Sandeep

    MOHAN SIROYA

    6 years ago

    THANKS A TON TO SUCHETA DALAL, TRUSTEE AND MG. EDITOR 'MONEYLIFE FOUNDATION', THE EDITOR TRUSTEE DBASISH BASU FOR GIVING THIS A PLATFORM AND OF COURSE TO RAJ PRADHAN, WHO MADE A 'FEATURE STORY' ON THIS .
    I AM SURE, THIS WILL GO A LONG WAY IN 'AWAKENING THE OTHERWISE SLACK CONSUMERS IN SLUMBER TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS' WITH UNDEING ZEAL AND DETERMINATION.
    KEEP IT UP THE CURSADE MONEYLIFE.

    REPLY

    Rajesh Kothari

    In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 6 years ago

    I think it is time we all consumers get a platform where we can share contact details of top personnel of all errant organizations.

    Once such contact details are in public domain, it will be easy for consumers to get quicker redressal of their complaints.

    Also, employees will think twice before giving evasive reply because he knows that consumer has option of reaching his higher-up.

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to Rajesh Kothari 6 years ago

    Mr Kothari
    Thanks for the good "Suggestion" . "Wesites,On line sellers", who are transparent and fair, do give the contact details .They are available on the concerned portal of the seller.
    Those who have not given , they come in "Fraud" category, and the Consumers should never deal with them online and part their hard earned money.

    Vaibhav Dhoka

    6 years ago

    Police or regulators none acts.And consumer forum is time consuming.

    Dev

    6 years ago

    If a person is a habitual offender he is termed as Goonda.

    If a business concern is a habitual offender of consumer laws what should we call them? What action can we take against these firms?

    Most of the business houses are not worried when you file a consumer complaint. For them it is a usual matter and they have appointed lawyers on permanent basis to represent them in the consumer forums!!

    I request activists to please file RTI in consumer forums of their places and find out the "habitual" offenders.

    REPLY

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to Dev 6 years ago

    A FEW DAYS BACK, ON BAHALF OF CONSUMER COMPLAINTS CELL, I HAD PUBLISHED A LIST OF A FEW ONLINE SELLER WEBSITES ON FACE BOOK AND LINKEDIN ,DIVIDING IN 3 CATEGORIES,VIZ; RELIABLE, NOT SO RELIABLE AND CHEATS. POTENTIAL ONLINE BUYERS CAN TAKE CAUTIONARY MEASURES ACCORDINGLY.
    IF SO DESIRED, I CAN RE-PUBLISH THAT LIST ON 'MONEYLIFE' TOO.
    tHE WARNIN WAS BASED ON THE EXPERIENCE WE GOT WHILE DEALING WITH ACTUAL CONSUMER COMPLAINTS.
    MOHAN SIROYA
    MOHAN SIROYA

    Rajesh Kothari

    In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 6 years ago

    Mr Mohan,

    We appreciate your tenacity in pursuing errant organizations. Hats off to you.

    Few suggestions:
    1. Please publish the list of websites here in this comments.

    2. Publish contacts details of top officials of major offenders.

    3. On Internet writing in all CAPS is considered equivalent to 'shouting' loudly. So, please write in normal letters.

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to Rajesh Kothari 6 years ago

    Thanks for your praise ,suggestion and even criticism is welcome.

    jaykayess

    In Reply to MOHAN SIROYA 6 years ago

    Sirji,
    You are an inspiration to all aggrieved customers. But I have one small request - please do not use all CAPS in your replies!

    MOHAN SIROYA

    In Reply to jaykayess 6 years ago

    Agreed Sir. But let me assure you that it was not an intention to "Shout Loudly". Perhaps it was a wrongful "emphasis" bring due importance to points.

    Air India asked to pay Rs50,000 to woman passenger

    The carrier was directed to pay Rs50,000 as compensation to a woman flier for causing her inconvenience by not loading her luggage in the flight

    State-run carrier Air India has been asked to pay Rs50,000 as compensation to a woman passenger for not loading her luggage during her flight to Abu Dhabi from New Delhi in 2007.

     

    New Delhi District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum asked the carrier to pay the compensation on a complaint filed by Sandhya Sharma.  In her complaint, she claimed that she suffered great difficulties due to loss of her suitcase during the travel. The suitbase was delivered to her three days after she reached Abu Dhabi.

     

    "Although some compensation of 300 Dirham was given to the complainant by airlines, it is not sufficient for the inconvenience suffered by the complainant. Considering the complaint, we award Rs50,000 in toto as compensation for the inconvenience suffered by the complainant including litigation cost," the bench presided by CK Chaturvedi said.

  • User

    COMMENTS

    PRABHAT

    6 years ago

    IT IS SUGGESTED THAT WHILE AWARDING COMPENSATION , THE DEFENDENT MUST BE ORDERED TO DEPOSIT EQUAL AMT. TO GOVT. FUND AND ALL THIS AMT. MUST BE CLAIMED FROM ERRING OFFICIALS SO THAT IT MAY NOT HAPPEN IN FUTURE . IT WILL HELP IN REDUCING NO. OF CASES.

    United India Assurance Penalised for Frivolous Petition

    Public sector insurer United India Assurance has been ordered by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to pay punitive costs of Rs25,000 to Surinder Pal, in addition to the claim amount of Rs1,10,000 with interest at 9% from 28 April 2006.

    NCDRC held that the insurer appealed against the order of the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission “only to...

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