Archive for the 'Consumer Rights' Category

December 24: National Consumer Rights Day

December 24 was National Consumer Rights Day.

I keep getting queries about where to complain and how to complain about consumer issues from harrassed consumers on my posts about consumer rights. I try to suggest them to file an online complaint at Core.nic.in.  You can seek tips to filing a consumer court here in Interview with Amit, a consumer court case winner. Also, seek telephone counselling at The National Consumer Helpline by dialling the toll-free number 1800-11-4000.

Gujrat, on Wednesday, became first state to launch its own toll-free line for consumers. It  launched the Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) on the National Consumer Day.  People in the state of Gujrat will have to call this number  – 18002330222.

Login to Adhikaar group at yahoo here: adhikaar@yahoogroups.com to seek specific queries or advice. It is an initiative closely supported by a consumer court case winner Lt. Col. Rajesh Yadav. You can join Adhikaar group here.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas! 🙂

Update: A reader commented with this web site for online consumer court. He says after lodging a complaint with this site, they got back to him with a solution. He was facing trouble with a marin insurance from ICICI bank. Try it out! Thank you, you anonymous reader! 🙂

Related Posts:

December 24: National Consumer Rights Day
Consumer Rights: 5 Random Facts
Interview with Consumer Rights Activist: Amit

Streamload/MediaMax/LinkUp: Cheats and Offenders on Web

Fraud by Online Storage Company

I am sure, sometimes you would have wondered about backing up your files online. You thought, in case you lost files or delete files from your computer, you could stack it away safely to access it in future. If you did that, your data is in danger as mine has been lost by a online backup and storage Web site. You heard it right, I have LOST all my data due to unscrupulous online practices.

I researched well about all the available online and storage options. Here is a post from Techcrunch’s blog that says: “Streamload is the most aggresive on pricing – offering a full 25 GB free to every user.” Here is another post from Lifehacker going ga-ga about it.

Naturally, I signed up for Streamload that had by then become Mediamax. I backed up all my pdf documents online and kept deleting them from my PC and laptop to avoid the clutter. A BIG mistake in hindsight! 😦

A few days back, I try logging into Mediamax to upload more files. Mediamax had now changed to Linkup. I was surprised as I had received no information. I thought perhaps that was fine. But imagine my rude shock, when I read on home page that ONLY accounts for paid users had been moved to the new Web site! For free usage upto 2 GB (compare it with earlier free offering of 25 GB), we needed to signup again for a new account with Linkup. What about all my FILES in Mediamax? LOST!! Continue reading ‘Streamload/MediaMax/LinkUp: Cheats and Offenders on Web’

Interview with Consumer Rights Activist-Amit: Part 2

In the last part of the interview, Amit recounted his experience of fighting a consumer court case on MRP overcharging. In this part of the interview, Amit talks about being vigilant when signing a contract and other common issues such as overcharging by autorickshaws:

You have several times written in frustration on lack of awareness about rights. How do you think awareness could help the cause of consumer rights?

First, people might not understand this, but we are agreeing to contracts everyday, throughput our lives, as “consumers”. People think that contracts are fancy legal documents, written by lawyers, prepared on matters of grave importance. But that’s not true. Contract law deals with every transaction that we make in the marketplace, and as consumers we enter into what is called implied contracts. Which by the way, have the same legal sanctity as express contracts. Whether we buy goods or services, as consumers we are using contract law all the time. Therefore, it is imperative that we have knowledge and awareness of what each contract implies or expressly states.

Continue reading ‘Interview with Consumer Rights Activist-Amit: Part 2’

Interview with Consumer Rights Champion-Amit: Part 1

jaago grahak jaago logo

Today’s guest on Visceral Observations is Amit, a hardware engineer by profession. He is like us, yet more special. Because he is a concerned citizen who recently took cudgels for a consumer rights issue and won a case. Lets hear in first person about his experience at the consumer courts.

Hi Amit, Welcome to Visceral Observations!

Congratulations for winning the battle against MRP overcharging! 🙂 What was the problem you faced with vendor that led you to file a case in the consumer court?

I am a frequent flyer and fly through various domestic and international airports. It gets my gall to see the rampant overcharging that snack bars/small food outlets indulge in, with flagrant disregard to laws and rules.

Continue reading ‘Interview with Consumer Rights Champion-Amit: Part 1’

December 24: National Consumer Rights Day!

December 24 is National Consumer Rights Day in India!

jaago grahak jaago logo

Here are three guru-mantra rules for consumers.

1. Never pay more than M.R.P. MRP stands for Maximum retail price, so always bargain on MRP.

2. Always take bills for your purchase. That means government is getting the rightful tax from the shopkeeper. Also, it is a must for redressal or claims.

3. Remember that as a consumer, you always have right to redressal.

Here is Nita’s wonderful post about how to avoid being cheated while shopping. You will soon read an interview of another consumer rights champion on Visceral Observations.

Merry Christmas

Meanwhile, may you have a Merry Christmas today! 🙂

Here is animated wish from an e-learning company called Enspire. Keep your speakers on and enjoy!

May Santa fulfil your wishes today! 🙂

10 Reasons Why My India is Regressive

Corruption

1. Corruption: India is 83rd on world corruption index as per Transparency Index. Most bureaucrats and politicians in the country are corrupt. There is no honesty in corruption as well. In India, bribing also does not ensure that your work will be done or not. So most entrepreneurs prefer to bribe outside of India to set up an industry. 🙂

Some days back, Hindustan Times broke a story that most Indians knew in their heart. There was misuse of Red Cross funds meant for Kargil soldiers by IAS officers. We all know how various unscrupulous individuals and groups duped millions of people by asking money in name of Kargil. But the money never reached those for whom it was meant. 😦

2. Insensitivity to Environment Hazards: India has not yet woken up to the importance of conserving environment and energy.

  • We still use bulbs in place of CFLs. It is not even apparent what could be other reasons of not using CFL other than cost? Do we get poor quality of CFLs in our country?
  • People who take care of India’s recycling are poorest of the poor – ragpickers. Their effort is largely unrecognized. We should also not have manual scavengers work in such unprotected conditions.
  • Asbestos is banned in US and EU because it is carcinogenic and also an environment hazard. But as per Outlook magazine, current Indian government is considering to revoke 20-year-old ban on asbestos mining. Forget environment, what about all those workers who would suffer from lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma, a painful cancer of chest wall lining. Doesn’t this government care for its people?

Continue reading ’10 Reasons Why My India is Regressive’

An Interview with Consumer Rights Champion: Lt. Col. Rajesh Yadav

Some days back I blogged about a consumer rights champion, Lt. Col. Rajesh Yadav who won a case against ICICI bank. Here, read his first-hand account of how things went with ICICI bank debit card and consumer court.

jaago grahak jaago

Hi Rajesh, Welcome to Visceral Observations! Before we begin, let us congratulate you for winning a consumer’s battle against ICICI.

Thanks Poonam. I am delighted to have been invited to share my views on this forum and be able to interact with the enlightened visitors of the blog. I am also thankful that you through the medium of your blog have made my fight known to public at large. I am sure this will contribute towards raising the awareness levels about Consumer Rights in the society.

Let’s start with your little introduction for the benefit of our readers.

I am Lt Col Rajesh Yadav, an Army Officer from Gurgaon. I am a customer of Vasant Vihar Branch of ICICI Bank since last 9 years and have my salary account with them. I had little knowledge about consumer rights like most of us and faced the nightmare as most of us will face when a similar situation confronts us.

Continue reading ‘An Interview with Consumer Rights Champion: Lt. Col. Rajesh Yadav’

New Champions of Consumer Rights

With great pleasure I take this opportunity to announce the new champions of consumer rights. 🙂

Pepsi Bottling Plant Fined

Ankit Jain, a lawyer who takes on Pepsi. Ankit had ordered two crates of Pepsi, when he noticed that some of the bottles were only partly filled. That is when he filed a complaint with the consumer court, the Pepsi bottling amount at Noida has been fined. The point as made by Ankit’s petition is: “With the kind of shortage being there in one bottle, the bottling plants must be causing total shortage of lakh litres each day. Considering that the plant fills 10,000 bottles per minute and runs for almost 8-10 hour per day, they must be making lakhs of rupees per day as unlawful gains and causing a corresponding unlawful loss to the consumer.” You can read the interesting accounts of Ankit’s exploits here. It is notable that this lawyer has taken Nirulas (the restaurant chain at Delhi) and State Bank of India to consumer court. May we have more lawyers like him.

ICICI bank fined for Rs. 85,0000-

The second hero of the week is Lt. Col Rajesh Yadav who had a savings account with Delhi branch of ICICI bank. He was erroneously billed by the bank for an amount of Rs 45,623 on a “renewed card” that was never issued to him!! Sounds familiar? Well, consumer panel fined ICICI bank for an amount of Rs. 85, 000/- on grounds of mental agony. Did I hear you muttering, “Serves them right!” 😀

It is true Pepsi and ICICI may not become exemplary companies overnight due to these paltry fines levied on them by consumer court. But I am sure they would think twice and reconsider when faced with another Ankit Jain and Lt. Col. Rajesh Yadav.

P.S: I was really sad when no one responded to my questions in my post Consumer Awareness II. But these two pieces of news cheered me up. It means the voice of consumer is not dead. There is still some hope. Amen! 🙂

Consumer Rights-5 Random Facts

Without a preamble, I will launch into 5 random facts about consumer issues: 🙂

1. Ever thought campaigning against banks that overcharge you in name of penalty charges, watch this interesting video called The Whistle Blowers:

2. Okay, so you have read about several children falling off in main holes, some being killed due to heavy iron gates of colonies falling on them. It is chargeable under consumer courts as negligence of civic authorities and resident welfares since it is their responsibility to maintain main holes and gates. True, you can not bring a child back by filing a case but you can save other children by making these civic bodies sit up.

3. Did you know that you are entitled to refund or change even if the bill for the defective product you purchased has “No guarantee” written over it. The consumer court rules that writing “no guarantee” on bill does not mean anything because bill is provided after a purchase is made. Rather, the seller should make the defect implicitly clear to the purchaser before the latter decides to buy it.

4. How well do you read the fine print when buying a credit card or do you know what to look for in a label while buying a cloth? Even the sales guys at fabric stores are not well aware about the products they are selling. You could start with this awareness.

5. Recent Nokia recall of BL-5C battery is perhaps the first recall that Indian has recognized on such a large scale. In other countries, such recalls are common place. People refer to them when buying a product, first-hand or second-hand. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) works with the industry to ensure the safety of consumer products. It has toll free numbers where consumers call to report product-related accidents and injuries. CPSC makes it mandatory for the manufactures to report any complaint or information in its knowledge that could jeopardise consumer safety. Failure to do so invites legal action. On the basis of these reports and investigations, CPSC asks the manufacturers to recall the product. In India, we do not have any such body. There is no such product liability law. Can’t we do with them?

Consumer Rights Awareness II

My last post about consumer rights invited a lot of debate and criticism. Some of it justified, it is these justified thoughts I will handle in this post.

The last post was only a build up on consumer rights awareness, I had given an example of an experience that we all face with credit cards. I gave a possible solution that, possibly, we are not aware of. Think of it, we are privileged in the sense we have access to useful information something that is not as easy to someone who lives in rural areas. Most of them are not aware of their consumer rights. (Yes, Right to Information Act has not penetrated yet.)

Let’s take a rural example I read in The Telegraph. India is supposedly agriculture-based countries, yet we witnessed a sad phase of farmer suicides in the recent past. Farmers rarely file cases in consumer courts for their defective seeds, fertilizers, or pesticides, but when they do, it is on priority as it is about their livelihood. Justice was delivered to them by consumer courts in 14 long years! No prizes for guessing that they must have withered away long before justice arrived at their doorstep.

Imagine if Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was well known and well exercised, it would have been implemented as a fast and inexpensive method just as it was envisioned, and then it would have made a hell lot of difference to these farmers. The consumer courts have huge backlogs. Recently Supreme Court ordered the consumer court to award 10, 000/- to each complainant to whom justice was not delivered in the stipulated time of 90 days. (To be honest, I don’t think it worked.) I think it is also not working because people who choose to exercise this right are very few. Very few voices are raised and heard on the issue.

Granted farmers are not going to read this blog, but we can perhaps campaign online about speedy priority-based trials on free web sites such as petition online. There have been some individuals who have raised a voice and set a precedent. Someone won a court case that gave way to the judgment that mental agony faced by the consumer needs to be compensated as well. Thank that individual who laid that precedent for others to reap the benefits. We need more such individuals who set such precedents. Complaining/suing may not stop a company to swindle its consumers but they will think twice to do it next time.

For me, awareness about consumer rights is the first step. There will always be need for new laws, but if we don not exercise the existing ones, we would not be sure what we want in new laws to make them succeed. If we complain we are too busy to campaign, I do not think any new law can help and protect our rights as a consumer.

Jaago Grahak Jaago

Jaago Grahak Jaago

Last but not least, my friend Ramesh, who being a management graduate has a business perspective in mind, shared his candid perspective on the issue. He argues that awareness about consumer rights could be first step in cure of the consumer maladies but where is the protection to these maladies? Why do companies swindle their consumers in the first place—is it money or resource crunch, or our government policies toward these companies? Click Consumer Issues-Other Perspective to read more about what he wrote.

Though the vocal consumer in me did not agree with his viewpoint, but I was forced to think about it. Perhaps he has a point. Few government rebates to companies that meet consumer satisfaction may result in better consumer service.

But then I read about this documentary called The Whistle Blowers at Hindu. It raised a point as said by the documenatry makers: “Our stand is when they can provide zero-pesticide drinks in Europe, why can’t they do it in India when they have the resources.” I refuse to believe that if these companies would provide pesticide-free water in our country, they would cease to make profits.

Accountability to Consumers

Accountability to Consumers?

What do you think? Is it possible to expect accounbtability of the corporates to the consumers?


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