Telecom has emerged as the worst industry in terms of quality of service, with over 21% of complaints received by the national consumer helpline in 2012 being related to this sector.
The ministry of consumer affairs has for the first time nailed the service offenders across 15 sectors.
While telecom was the worst in terms of number of complaints (around 25,000 out of a total of 121,000), real estate caused more monetary loss ( Rs. 32.3 crore) — due to delays in handing over flats to owners or the quality of houses built — than any other sector.
This personal loss, known as consumer detriment, was calculated on the basis of a consumer’s evaluation of the expenses he had to incur due to poor service. In telecom, for instance, it may be the money lost on inflated bills or delayed activation.
The survey pegs the total loss caused by poor service across sectors last year at Rs. 250 crore though the sample size for calculating the loss was small.
The figure is based on the complaints received by the national helpline, which receives only a fraction of consumer complaints in the country.
Moreover, while the helpline received 1.21 lakh complaints last year, only around 20,000 were considered for calculating the monetary loss.
Real estate was followed by delivery of faulty products – such as air-conditioners, fridge and television sets – by retail stores. “Consumers had to take pains to get a replacement for a faulty appliance,” the study says.
Electronic commerce alone was responsible for losses to the tune of Rs. 12 crore. Banking and tourism were other offenders.
“The figure is a wake-up call for consumers as well as the government,” said Shri Ram Khanna, national coordinator of the helpline and former head of Delhi School of Economics.
“The so-called consumer policies are business-friendly, not people-friendly.”
For instance, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India gives a service provider’s appellate authority 90 days to redress a consumer’s complaint.