Judgements from consumer forums across India
• Britannia fined for selling packet with less than printed weight
Ahmedabad consumer forum has fined Britannia Industries for selling biscuit packets that weighed less than what was printed on them. The forum also asked the company to deposit Rs 25,000 in the Consumer Welfare Fund as a fine and pay another Rs 6,000 to Lalji Patel, the complainant.
Patel had moved the forum after finding that the four biscuit packets he purchased in 2012 weighed less than 122.5 grams, which was the printed weight on them. He verified the actual weight with a local ISO 9001-certified laboratory.
Patel had contended that the four packets of biscuits that he purchased weighed 104 grams, 112 grams, 114 grams and 117 grams, respectively. The consumer forum in its order stated that the difference in actual and printed weights on the packets was not negligible and was more than the maximum permissible error, and hence declared Britannia guilty of ‘unfair trade practice’.
The company had argued that it had sophisticated manufacturing plants where the biscuits were packed in order to maintain the international standard. The variation in weight could have been caused due to transportation and weather conditions. The court, though, found this unjustifiable.
• Airtel found guilty of overbilling
Bengaluru consumer forum has ordered Airtel to pay Rs 5,000 as compensation for overbilling a customer and forcing him to pay the inflated bill by abruptly disconnecting his service. The customer had
opted for a particular plan that had a clear credit limit. However, Airtel charged him beyond the set limit and disconnected the number citing non-payment of bills as reason.
While looking for more internet data and additional talktime, R Murali bought one 1,999 plan from an Airtel outlet in May 2016. The plan promised free local and STD calls including roaming, unlimited SMS and 7.1 GB of internet data. However, within two weeks of usage, the user received a text from Airtel stating he had exceeded his usage limit. Puzzled, the 44-year-old customer called the Airtel executive who convinced him that the new package would kick in within a few days and the discounts would come into effect.
In June 2016, Murali was shocked to receive an email stating his Airtel bill was Rs 9,979. Murali contacted the Airtel helpline and raised a query about how could the 1,999 plan go beyond the cap without the customer receiving any alert. Although the company executives admitted to a possible mixup and assured Murali of sorting out the issue, they only barred all his services within a few days. This forced him to lodge a formal complaint at the forum.
• Aakash Institute penalised for poor service
Convinced that Aakash Institute had failed to provide the services it promised, Ahmedabad consumer forum has penalised the institute and asked its Ambawadi branch of to pay Rs 20,000 to the complainant along with eight per cent interest from 14 September 2017 till the date of payment. It also asked the institute to pay the legal cost of Rs 5,000 besides Rs 5,000 for causing mental harassment.
In a complaint filed by Devesh Dand, father of a Class 10 student, it was stated that the student was to take coaching for Class X ICSE board exams and paid a registration fee of Rs 5,750 in April 2017. While enrolling, the student was told that coaching would begin on an immediate basis. However, the classes were delayed by over a month and eventually started with only two students. Also, the classes focused on CBSE and Gujarat board curriculum and not ICSE, for which the student had enrolled. All complaints made to the institute by the student and his father went in vain. Aggrieved, Dand filed a formal complaint at the forum.
• SBI to compensate for issuing recovery notice for settled loan
In an interesting ruling, Nagpur district consumer forum has directed State Bank of India (SBI) to pay compensation to a customer for sending him a recovery notice for a loan that was already repaid.
“This decision will have long-lasting impact on banks for sending recovery notices even after loan was paid and paying no heed to requests of the consumers. The forum found deficiency in service by SBI and directed bank to pay Rs 5,000 towards mental harassment and Rs 2,500 as litigation costs to the consumer,” the lawyer representing the consumer said in his statement to the media.
V Sahasrabuddhe had availed a loan of one lakh rupees from SBI’s Dharampeth branch in Nagpur. However, he could not repay the loan on time, resulting in the loan being transferred in SBI’s Stressed Assets Recovery (SAR) branch. The SAR branch offered a one-time settlement scheme, which he accepted and thereafter repaid and settled his loan.
However, in 2015, the bank’s Dharampeth branch, from where he had availed the loan, sent him a notice for recovery, along with a warning that action would be initiated against him under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act. After receiving the notice, Sahasrabuddhe visited the bank branch with his loan-settlement documents and requested for a no-dues certificate, which was declined by the branch.
After hearing both the parties, the forum observed that after the loan was paid in one branch, the demand for repayment by another branch amounted to deficiency in service. It held SBI liable to pay the costs for litigation and mental harassment.