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Consumer Complaints

If you are facing any trouble with a product or service you have purchased, don't panic. You can get quick relief by sending a Legal Notice and then Filing a Consumer Complaint, if necessary.

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How does consumer complaint work?

A consumer complaint has to be filed within a time frame of 2 years from the cause of action
against the product or the goods and services.

Advice and Guidance
Our team will get in touch with you to understand your issue and advise you on your legal options.

Step 1

Drafting of Legal Notice
Our team of legal experts will send a legal notice to your defaulting seller.

Step 2

We Work Exclusively With Top Lawyers
We’ll then connect you to the best consumer protection lawyers in India to handle your case.

Step 3

Advice and Guidance
Our team will get in touch with you to understand your issue and advise you on your legal options.
Drafting of Legal Notice
Our team of legal experts will send a legal notice to your defaulting seller.
We Work Exclusively With Top Lawyers
We’ll then connect you to the best consumer protection lawyers in India to handle your case.

What is a Consumer Complaint?


As a consumer, you have several rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. If a seller has sold you a defective product or a service provider has provided inadequate service, or your rights have been affected by the seller/ service provider's actions, you can seek relief under the law by filing a Consumer Complaint. Right.

A Consumer Complaint is a formal complaint against a seller or service provider and is filed before the appropriate consumer forum (also called consumer court). The Complaint is filed when the seller or service provider fails to rectify the problem even after receiving a legal notice.

The Complaint contains details and documentary evidence about the defective product and/or service, along with the compensation and relief sought by you. Consumer Courts in India are separate from other courts, and established exclusively to provide relief to consumers and therefore, are known to provide quick and effective legal relief.

For example, if you buy a product and it stops working or does not work as advertised, and the seller refuses to rectify the problem, you can first send a legal notice. If there is still no satisfactory response from the seller, you can file a consumer complaint with the appropriate consumer court.

All You Need to Know

Who can file a Consumer Complaint in India?

According to the Consumer Protection Act, you can file a Consumer Complaint if you are:-

  • A consumer - i.e. an individual who purchases goods or avails a service for his/her personal use (but not for resale or commercial purposes).
  • Any registered volunteer organization that acts on behalf of consumers (e.g. The Consumer Guidance Society of India).
  • A group of consumers having some common interest.
  • Legal heirs of a deceased consumer.
  • Relatives of a consumer.
  • The Central or State Government.
  • The legal guardian of a consumer in case the consumer is a minor.

What are your Rights as a Consumer?


As a consumer in India, the Consumer Protection Act guarantees you the following rights, among others:

Right to Safety - the right to be protected against any hazardous or potentially dangerous products or services - e.g. malfunctioning electronics that could potentially cause injury.

Right to Information - the right to transparent information about the products or services you are purchasing - this is the reason all food products must display nutritional information and a list of ingredients, expiry date, MRP etc.

Right to Choose - as a consumer, you are entitled to have access to a variety of products and services at competitive price points from which they are able to choose as per their requirements.

Right to Be Heard - if your consumer rights have been violated by a seller or service provider, you have a right to make your concerns heard and seek redressal through the various consumer courts in each district.

Right Against Unfair Trade Practices - You are also granted various rights against any kind of unfair trade practice, such as, refusal to issue a bill, "No Refund"/ "No Bargaining"/ "No Exchange" policies, etc.

Timeline for Filing Consumer Complaint

It is important to keep in mind that in case you decide to pursue legal action, you need to approach the appropriate consumer court within a period of 2 years from the date on which the you purchased the product/ service or the date on which the product turned defective, as the case may be.

If this period of 2 years has passed, you cannot seek relief under the Consumer Act, but you may still be able to get relief from other civil courts.

Once the Consumer Complaint has been filed before the Consumer Forum, it typically takes 8-18 months to be resolved, depending on the facts, circumstances and complexities involved in each case. This may sometimes extend further in case of complex disputes.

Grounds for Filing a Consumer Complaint


You can get relief from the Consumer Court, if any of the following has happened to you:

SELLER ISSUE:
If the Seller has used any unfair or deceptive practice like:

  • False Advertisement - Making false statements about the standards of the goods or services - including quality, quantity, composition, grade, model, and style of the goods or services.
  • False Promise - Providing guarantee or warranty about the efficiency, life expectancy of the goods without any proper test or certification.
  • False representation - Making a false representation about the maintenance, refund or return of the product or service which is not possible to perform
  • Charging Higher Price - Applying extra charges above the market value or adding higher taxes rates.
  • For instance:

    • If you purchase a product with a marked MRP, but the seller charges you a higher price than the MRP from you, you can file a consumer complaint against the seller.
    • If the restaurant levies service charges without your consent or against your consent, you can file a consumer complaint against the restaurant.

PRODUCT ISSUE:
Broadly, issues in the product are of three kinds:

  • Defect in manufacturing
  • Defect in design; and
  • Defect in warnings

This means that you can file a Complaint:

  • If the product you purchased is faulty or broken.
  • If the product stops working or doesn’t work as promised.
  • If there is no warning or instruction about the usage of the product.
  • If the warning is inadequate or not properly mentioned.

For instance

  • If you purchase a mobile phone from an authorized dealer of a particular brand but find that the battery is not working as advertised and gives you substantially lesser usage time, you can file a consumer complaint against the brand.
  • If you purchase an edible product and the package only contains the ’best before date‘ and does not mention the manufacturing date, then you can file a consumer case as it is an unfair trade practise.

SERVICE ISSUE:

Any deficiency in service including:

  • Not meeting market standards of service in that market.
  • Poor customer service after purchasing a product or package.
  • Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) services not being provided.

For Instance:

  • If you engage an online service provider for a particular service which is to be completed within a certain time, but if this is not done due to lack of timely responses from the service provider, you are entitled to file a consumer complaint.
  • If you engage an online service provider who promptly follows up with you up until the point of payment but does not carry out the requisite work in a timely manner after payment is received, you may file a consumer complaint against the service provider.

Where to file a consumer complaint?


The Forum you have to approach is decided based on the value of the goods & services purchased and the compensation you are claiming. If the total amount is:

  • Less than 20 Lakh Rupees - you should approach the District Forum.
  • Between 20 Lakh - 1 crore Rupees - you should approach the State Commission.
  • More than 1 crore Rupees - you should approach the National Commission.

The Complaint can be filed in the District/State, where your seller either resides or conducts his business or in the place where the cause of action arose, i.e. the place where the purchase was made or the service was rendered.

If the sale or purchase occurred online, then the place mentioned in the terms of service of the seller’s website for dealing with dispute shall be chosen.

How to file a Consumer Complaint?


STEP 1: SEND A WRITTEN NOTICE

The first step is to send a written notice to the Seller or Manufacturer explaining your problem and the reason why you are unhappy with the product or service.

What your notice should contain:

  • All the facts with relevant details like dates, times and amounts - this is a legal record of your dissatisfaction so state everything that has happened so far.
  • Any complaint and/ or reference numbers.
  • Names of the representatives of the Seller that you have been interacting with.
  • Maintain courtesy and politeness at all times.
  • State the amount of your claim clearly.
  • Provide at least 15 days for the other party to reply to your notice.
  • State that you will approach the Consumer Forum if your issue is not resolved.
  • Address the Notice to the correct party/parties.
  • Send the notice through registered post and record the acknowledgement of receipt.

In the notice, you should not:

  • Use foul language.
  • State anything which is factually incorrect.
  • Use threatening language.
  • Be vague about the amount you want to claim.
  • Forget to mention the reference/ invoice/ complaint numbers.
  • Demand excessive compensation - it is important to be realistic and get a speedy resolution.

For claims over Rs. 10,000, it is highly recommended that you consult a lawyer and send the notice through the lawyer, on the official letterhead. This will indicate to the seller that you are serious about taking a legal action.

STEP 2: WAIT FOR THE SELLER TO RESPOND

Once you send the legal notice, it is likely that the company will respond seriously to your issue. Some might offer you fair compensation. At this stage, you must know what reasonable compensation for the bad service or product is. Demanding a very high amount as compensation will get you nowhere as courts will not entertain it either. If there is no response within the stipulated time, which is usually 15 days, you have a right to approach the consumer forum.

STEP 3: CHOOSE THE CORRECT FORUM

Based on the value of goods or services you have purchased or the compensation you are claiming, you can approach the appropriate consumer forum/commission, i.e., the District Forum, State Commission or the National Commission. You have the option of filing the complaint yourself or appointing an advocate to represent you before the forum/commission. The time taken for the proceedings ranges between 6 to 18 months.

STEP 4: FILE A WRITTEN COMPLAINT

Each forum has a prescribed format you must adhere to while filing the written complaint. You must attach all the relevant documents supporting your complaint and claim like invoices, receipts, delivery challans, communications made in writing (emails and SMS also), etc. It is important to submit the Legal Notice sent to your Seller or Manufacturer so that the Court is convinced that you have tried to resolve this dispute out-of-court.

STEP 5: COURT FEE FOR CONSUMER COMPLAINT

To file a consumer complaint, you must pay a court fee:

  • District Forum - Rs.500
  • State Commission - Rs.2000
  • National Commission - Rs.5000

If the case is decided in your favour, the Court will direct the seller to compensate you for all your legal costs, including court fees and lawyer fees.

Remedies Available


You will get the following relief once your complaint is proved:

  • A full refund of the amount you have paid; OR
  • The defect in the goods or service deficiency will be rectified; OR
  • Replacement of the defective product
  • AND
  • You will be reimbursed for all legal costs incurred for the notice and complaint including court fee and lawyer charges.
  • Additionally,
  • You will get compensation for your loss and injury suffered.
  • The Seller may be ordered to discontinue his unfair trade practice.
  • If the goods are hazardous, the Seller may be ordered to discontinue the goods and manufacturer will be ordered to stop.

The Complaint can be filed in the District/State, where your seller either resides or conducts his business or in the place where the cause of action arose, i.e. the place where the purchase was made or the service was rendered.

If the sale or purchase occurred online, then the place mentioned in the terms of service of the seller’s website for dealing with dispute shall be chosen.

FAQs on Consumer Compliants

It is good to hire a lawyer in cases where the value is high or where the complaint is of a very serious nature, such as medical negligence. Consumer lawyers are experienced in handling these cases and know how to file complaints in court, so they can help you put together a tight case against an offender.
It generally takes between 8 to 18 months to complete a consumer complaint case. In matters that are contentious, it could take a bit longer. Sometimes, an out of court settlement is also possible, in which case, you can get relief much sooner.
There is no such calculation in the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, but you are always expected to claim a reasonable amount as compensation and justify as to why such amount is being claimed.
Once the notice is sent to your Seller and there is no response within the time prescribed, then you can file an online complaint at https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/
The Court expects you to try and resolve the dispute before approaching the Court. Therefore, the legal notice is proof of this - you need to first give notice to the concerned party and then wait for a period of 15 days before filing a complaint with the Consumer Forum.
If a product or service was free, or purchased for commercial purposes, then you cannot approach the Consumer Courts, but you may be able to get relief under another law.
The complainants who are Below the Poverty Line (BPL) shall be entitled to the exemption of payment of fee for complaints upto ₹ 1 lakh on production of an attested copy of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana card.

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