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Intending to protect the rights and interests of the consumer, the government has established the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, which addresses the complaints and resolves their matter.
A Consumer Complaint is a legal complaint against a service provider or dealer and is filed before the relevant consumer forum (also called consumer court). The Objection is filed when the service provider or businessperson fails to fix the problem even after getting a legal notice.
The Complaint contains details and documentary proof about the unhealthy or defective product and service, along with the compensation and relief sought by you. Consumer Courts in India are different from other courts and established only to provide relief to consumers and, hence, provide quick and valuable legal assistance.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FILING CONSUMER COMPLAINTS?
- Total refund of your paid amount.
- The defect in the goods or service deficiencies will be rectified.
- One can get a replacement for a defective product.
- Replacing the defective product.
- The compensation of all legal charges procured in filing the Complaint.
- Payment for any difficulty or loss.
- The seller may be ordered to discontinue his/her unfair trade practice.
- In the case of online shopping, it would select the site specified in terms of advantages for dealing with arguments for filing the Complaint on the seller’s website.
CHECKLIST FOR WHO CAN FILE A CONSUMER COMPLAINT IN INDIA
According to the Consumer Protection Act, you can file a Consumer Complaint if you are:-
- A customer – i.e., a person who buys goods or avails services for his/her individual use (not for sale or commercial purposes).
- A certified volunteer association works on behalf of customers (i.e., The Consumer Guidance Society of India).
- An organization of customers having a common interest.
- Legal beneficiaries of a departed consumer.
- Families of a customer.
- The legal guardian of a customer, in case the consumer is a minor.
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WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER?
As a consumer in India, the Consumer Protection Act ensures you the following rights,
Right to Be Heard – If your consumer rights have been infringed by a seller or service provider, you have the right to make your concerns heard and seek redressal through the various consumer courts in each district.
Right to Choose – As a consumer, you are entitled to have access to various products and services at competitive price points from which you can choose as per your needs.
Right Against Unfair Trade Practices – You are also given several rights against any illegal trade systems, such as rejection to issue a bill, No Exchange policies, No Bargaining, No Refund, etc.
Right to Safety – the right to be defended against any uncertain or potentially risky products or services.
Right to Information – The right to information about the products or services you are purchasing.
STEPS TO FILE CONSUMER COMPLAINTS?
STEP 1: SEND A WRITTEN NOTICE
The first step is to send a written notice to the Dealer or Manufacturer describing the problem and why you are troubled and unhappy with the service or product.
What your notice should include:
In the information, you should not:
For claims over Rs. 10,000, it is highly suggested that you consult a lawyer and give notice by the lawyer on official letterhead. This will confirm the dealer that you are serious about taking legal action.
STEP 2: WAIT FOR THE SELLER TO REPLY
Once you send the legal note, the firm will likely answer your problem. Some might suggest you a fair settlement. At this stage, you must know what fair settlement is agreeable to you. Asking a very high amount as compensation will get you nowhere as courts will not consider. If there is no answer within the specified time, typically 15 days, you have the right to request the consumer forum.
STEP 3: CHOOSE THE CORRECT FORUM
Based on the quality or cost of goods or services you have obtained to the return you claim, you can request the relevant consumer forum/commission, i.e., the District Forum, State Commission, or the National Commission. You have the choice of filing the Complaint yourself or selecting an advocate to represent you before the forum/commission. The time taken for the procedures can range between 6 to 18 months.
STEP 4: FILE A WRITTEN COMPLAINT
All Forum has a prescribed format you must adhere to while filing the written Complaint. You need to attach all the related documents verifying your Complaint, like statements, certificates, delivery requests, communication in writing (emails and messages), etc. It is required to submit the legal notice that you conformed to the seller or service provider so that the Court is persuaded that you attempted to resolve this dispute out-of-court.
STEP 5: COURT FEE FOR CONSUMER COMPLAINT
You must pay a court fee, To file a consumer complaint.
If the matter is decided in your favor, the Court will inform the seller to repay you, including all your legal costs, such as lawyer fees and court fees.
Where Do You file Consumer Complaints?
- An unhappy consumer can file a complaint immediately with the national commission or claim against decisions of the state commission in a month from the date of the order.
- The Complaint can be filed within District/State, where the dealer resides or conducts his/her firm, or in the place where the purchase was made, or the service was rendered.
- If the sale or purchase was made online, then choose the place mention in terms of services for dealing with disputes for filling the complaints on the seller’s web.
FAQs on Consumer Complaints
Anyone who purchases goods or avails service upon payment is a consumer.
It is good to hire a lawyer when the value is high or where the Complaint is very serious, such as medical negligence. Consumer lawyers are experienced in controlling these cases and know how to file objections in Court, so they can assist you in putting together a tight case against the offender.
The Court expects you to try and resolve the dispute before approaching them. Therefore, the legal notice serves as evidence of this. The notice is given to the concerned party, and then there is a waiting period of 15 days before filing a complaint with the Consumer Forum.
There are no such metrics as defined by the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. However, a fair amount is always expected to be claimed as settlement, along with the justification of why such an amount is being claimed.
The complainants BPL (Below the Poverty Line) shall be entitled to the exemption of payment of a fee for charges up to ₹ 1 lakh on the production of an attested copy of the ''Antyodaya Anna Yojana'Yojana' card.
It generally takes between 8 to 18 months to complete a Consumer Complaint case. In contentious matters, it could take a bit longer. Sometimes an out-of-court settlement is also possible, in which case issues can be resolved much faster.
Once the notice is sent to the dealer and there is no response in the specified, or the dealer rejects the statement, you can fill online Complaint on the consumer help website.
If a product or service is free or bought for business purposes, you cannot request the Consumer Court, therefore not considered a consumer.