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Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 18, 2007
Mobile phone giant Nokia, caught in a storm following its admission of defective batteries, is in further trouble. A Delhi consumer court has pulled up the company for harassing a customer by not repairing or replacing a defective set even within the warranty period. For Poonam Bhambani, her Nokia set certainly did not live up to its claim of ‘connecting people’. Within two years of its purchase, she was forced to leave the set with the service centre, most of the time for repairs. The bank executive had purchased a 72501 model handset by paying Rs. 13,450 but it had frequent problems with the display and keypad besides other serious technical glitches.

Bhambani claimed that the service centre could never rectify the problems to her satisfaction and finally after two years they gave her a ‘BER’ certificate. It means that her set was beyond repair and she could surrender the set and take a refund. To her shock she was paid only Rs. 2,760. She dragged Nokia to court for the inadequate refund money when the extended warranty period had not expired.

Nokia contended that during the extended warranty it is the insurer, National Insurance Company, who is to look after the claim and they had no role in settling the claim. But Bhambani pointed out that the insurance policy is an agreement between Nokia and the insurance company. She felt cheated as she spent Rs. 13,450 for the defective set besides the sufferings during the warranty period.

After hearing both sides, President J.P. Sharma and member Krishna K. Gupta of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (Janakpuri) ordered Nokia to replace Bhambani’s defective set with a new one free of cost. The court also asked the company to pay her a compensation of Rs. 2,000 for the mental agony and suffering she underwent.