Cheated by a seller? Check where you can lodge a consumer complaint in Chennai

GUIDE TO CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW

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A month ago, Saritha Kumar of Nungambakkam ordered a designer saree from an online store. She paid the cash of Rs 10,000 online and waited for a month. The delivery never reached her. Upon suspicion, when she read reviews from other customers on the store’s Facebook page, Saritha realised she had been cheated just like many others before her. She was shocked to know that even the store’s address and phone number were invalid. 

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Had Saritha researched about the store before ordering the saree, she would have saved the money. Either due to carelessness or ignorance, a lot of consumers face similar experiences as Saritha. That brings us to an important question:

What are the duties of a consumer?

  • Select a shop that has been in business for a considerable period of time.
  • Make sure you have full information regarding quality and price before making the purchase.
  • Ensure you get the receipt, warranty card, instruction manual and other literature from the shopkeeper. Also, in case of gadgets, or electronic devices, go through the instruction manual carefully. A receipt with a store’s seal will be a necessary document should a situation arise where you wish to file a legal suit. 
  • In case of gadgets or electronic goods, ensure that the seller has a service centre in your city. 
  • Before buying a product, please ensure you have all information about the return/refund options. 

How can you complain?

According to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a consumer can lodge a complaint with the state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission within two years of purchasing a product / availing a service. Some companies may specify a timeline in their refund or return policies, but a senior advicate who deals with consumer cases said, “The law prevails. The policy is internal to the company.”

For more details on who can qualify as a consumer and the kinds of relief he may seek, check this out.

Here is a simplified step-by-step guide describing the procedure:

  • On noticing the defect in the commodity/service provided, the consumer has to approach the concerned organisation (Public or private) requesting for rectification/change of commodity / return of money, in writing.
  • If you are sending a mail, write to the dealer and request them to revert within 15 days. In the case of non-responsiveness or uncertain answer, forward the mail to the service centre and later to the manufacturer. 
  •  Print out these emails and send a post to the concerned parties. (dealer, service provider and manufacturer).  Do not miss to get the acknowledgement. It is an important procedure because if the concerned parties refuse to accept the post and it is returned to you, the post would be an important proof to submit in court.  
  • Call up the state consumer helpline (044 – 28592828) in the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Consumer Protection Department for help. The call centre assistants are available between 9-30 AM to 6-00 PM on all working days of Government of Tamil Nadu. They will help you in filing a complaint and forwarding it to the concerned party. Remember, a letter from a government body can be effective.
  • The final step to fight exploitation you faced as a consumer is to approach the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Check out the state commission’s website to know who can file the complaint and the fees prescribed for the consumer. 
  • It is important to know the site of the cause of action. For example, if you have bought the product in Chennai, you should complain in the Chennai District Redressal Forum, regardless of where you are presently located.

It is important to note that the Indian Parliament gave its nod to a new Consumer Protection Act (passed in both houses) in August 2019, which provides for a simpler dispute resolution process, mediation and e-filing of cases.  Under the Act, the consumer will be able to file cases in the nearest commission under the jurisdiction of which he resides. However, this law is yet to be notified by the central government.

Important points of contact

Here are the addresses and contact details of the two District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums (DCDRF) in Chennai: 

Chennai North 044 – 25340083

chennai.north@gmail.com

Frazer Bridge Road, (Behind TNPSC), V.O.C. Nagar, Park Town – 600 003.
Chennai South 044 – 25340065

chennaisouth.dcdrf@gmail.com

Frazer Bridge Road, (Behind TNPSC), V.O.C. Nagar, Park Town – 600 003.
  • Do not hesitate to approach the commission. “A lot of citizens are not comfortable to visit courts; hence the consumer court is called a commission and the judge is called the President,” said T Sadagopan, President,  Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Centre.
  • You can also approach organisations working on consumer issues for help. 
Consumers Association of India  – 044 244 94575

Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group – 044 24660387 

Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Centre – 9444220440

Know the law

You can be your own lawyer in a consumer dispute case. 

You can file the complaint on plain paper, including these details:

  • Name and address of complainant and opposite party
  • Date of purchase and amount paid
  • Particulars of the goods/service
  • Explicitly mention the complaint – whether it is about a defect in the product, an unfair trade practice, charging above MRP, etc
  • Documents to prove your claim, like receipts and copy of communication with the trader
  • Relief sought
  • Signature of complainant or authorised agent

At hearings, you can argue the case yourself, or have an authorised person/agency – not necessarily a lawyer – represent you. But even if you decide to fight it out yourself, it is better to consult a legal professional at the outset, or an organisation working on consumer issues.


Laasya Shekhar
About Laasya Shekhar 172 Articles
Laasya Shekhar is Senior Reporter at Citizen Matters Chennai. She tweets at @plaasya.

3 Comments

  1. Will complaints on quality be addressed
    Even that is cheating right ?
    Please facilitate loading of pics too A visual impact makes a great difference

  2. After all the publicity input Saving milk, the consumer continues vto pay R’s. 3/-more per half litre packet. Argument of vendor that order is applicable only to Saving outlets. If so why all the publcity?
    Most of street food stalls are openly using domestic gas cylinders for selling tea/coffee and other food products.
    When will the vigilance machinery of the Govt. function to put an end to this?

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