Online shopping website Flipkart has been fined for delivering the wrong product, with the consumer court dismissing the company’s argument that it was only an intermediary between buyers and sellers and could not be held responsible.
The district consumer disputes redressal forum, Panchkula, asked Flipkart and the seller of Nintendo DS, a handheld dual screen game console, to pay Narender Kaajla, a sector 20 resident, Rs 10,000.
On December 5 last year, Kaajla had placed an order for the Rs 3,000 gaming console for his son, but received New Super Mario Bros DS Games, a video game chip, instead.
Kaajla told the consumer forum that after receiving the consignment, he sent a mail for the product to be taken back and the amount to be refunded, but it yielded no reply.
Kaajla said he later sent the product to the address mentioned on the package. He said he also contacted Flipkart on its toll-free number and was told by a representative that the company was looking into the matter and would refund the money “as soon as possible”. The money never came, Kaajla said.
The consumer court, under president Dharampal, observed that the Kaajla’s refund claim was rejected on the ground that the 10-day period after delivery of the product had been over, but added that the complainant should have been made aware of that.
“Had it been so, it was obligatory on the part of Flipkart to intimate the complainant with this condition, but it has failed to produce any evidence to show that such type of condition/policy/intimation has ever been issued to the complainant either at the time of receiving of order/money or at the time of delivery/dispatch of the product,” the court ruled, asking Flipkart to also refund the Rs 3,000 (price of gaming console) with 9 % interest.
‘Not responsible’ claim rejected
Flipkart had told the court that it could not be held responsible for the delivery of a wrong product as it only provided an online platform for buyers and sellers and that its business fell within the definition of an “intermediary” under the information technology (it) act. Hence, Flipkart added, it was not covered under the consumer protection act.
The court, however, dismissed the submission. “…company is engaged in the business of providing services through its internet portal to interested buyers and sellers by acting as a means of communication between them and bringing into existence contracts of sale and purchase of movable goods.
“If this is the declared business interest of Flipkart it cannot be permitted to claim that it is providing purely gratuitous service to its customers, without any consideration. It is certainly not the case that it is a charitable organisation involved in e-commerce with no business returns for itself…”
The court also said online shopping portals could not absolve themselves of responsibilities after delivering a product and that it was the “bounded duty of the companies to satisfy their customers”.
“Because any consumer… does not give any liberty to usurp the money either by sending wrong items or defective product,” the court ruled.