You are here

Consumers vs. Corporates

Submitted by Karthik on 4 October, 2012 - 12:44

In the last month or so, a number of feel-good stories have cropped up where consumers have stuck it to the corporates. First up, there was the case of a lawyer winning a Rs. 9 refund from MTNL after a protracted 18 year battle.

In 1994, an advocate took on MTNL for charging extra service tax on his telephone bill. The case slowly inched forward in the high court and then the Supreme Court, but he didn't give up. Eighteen years later, he got his due: an MTNL refund cheque for Rs 9 that he received earlier in August.

"It was a matter of principle," said Sanjay Kothari, the proud recipient. "MTNL is a public body and if they wrongly charge consumers, they must refund it. Otherwise, it is a case of unjust enrichment."

And Kothari is not done yet. He has filed a contempt petition over MTNL's failure to refund the extra tax to other customers as the Bombay high court had ordered in 2010.

MTNL has to refund Rs 9 each to 1.8 lakh people

Then there was the case of Nivedita Jana vs. Dell which was decided in a consumer court.

The South Mumbai district consumer disputes redressal forum has asked Dell to return Rs 32,500 paid to buy a laptop, plus Rs 12,700 for mental agony, to Versova resident Nivedita Jana.

Jana purchased a Dell laptop in 2011. The computer was bought in India but offered only US warranty. Moreover, the piece turned out to be defective.

Jana approached Dell service centres in Mumbai but was turned away saying her warranty was not valid in India. Observing that Dell indugled in unfair trade practice, forum president S B Dhuman and member S S Patil ruled the laptop was sold without a valid warranty and directed the company to compensate Jana in a month.

In the last month or so, consumer courts have decided against Spice and Nokia as well for providing faulty hardware, poor service, and the ride of irresponsibility that we are all familiar with. What is heartening to see is that the bench has also awarded compensation for "mental agony" in many such decisions.