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Get free replacement for defective models

If a product model is defective, a company should recall and give all its customers an option of free replacement or a refund.

delhi Updated: Jul 30, 2011 22:34 IST

It's amazing how manufacturers in India convert every situation to their advantage. They sell a defective model and when a consumer complains, they make this 'magnanimous' gesture of changing the model.

Not free of cost, as they should, but at a considerable cost to the consumer, because the model offered is far more expensive than the one purchased by the consumer, who is asked to pay the difference in price. Or pay a 'discounted' price for the new model.

I have received a number of e-mails from readers on this subject and my advice is: Please remember that you have a right to a defect-free product. Demand a replacement free of cost or a full refund.

Malathi Sundararajan: In April 2009, I bought a 15 litre water heater. Within six months, it started leaking. Following my complaint to the service centre, the company replaced the drum as well as the coil, which were damaged.

From then on till June 30 this year, the problem has occurred four times and the company has not been able to resolve it despite repeated replacement of the two parts.

Now they are asking me to buy a new model as the one that I had purchased has been discontinued. Water heaters are expected to last many years, but here I am being told to purchase a new one in just two years. I would like to know the various remedies available to me in this case.

Answer: From what you say, it is obvious that the product suffered from manufacturing defects. Or else, it would not continue to leak despite several repairs and replacement of parts. It also seems like the company discontinued that particular model because of inherent defects.

The company should have been honest with you and replaced the defective one with a defect-free model. In fact, if the model was defective, it should have recalled it from the market and given all the customers an option of a free replacement (with a different model) or a refund. Even now, it is only fair that you get a new model free of cost.

First and foremost, I would suggest that you collect some crucial information pertaining to the defective model. Google search the model and I am sure you will come across other consumer complaints pertaining to it.

Put together this information, it will help you establish the fact that the model was indeed defective. Armed with this information, write to the company asking for a replacement free of cost and without any delay.

If they fail to act, you will have to file a complaint before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, seeking a free replacement and also compensation for the harassment caused to you and costs of litigation.

The information pertaining to other consumer complaints will come in handy here to establish the fact that the product had inherent manufacturing defects and despite knowing it, the company continued to repair it, instead of giving you a replacement.

Such a behaviour will also call for punitive damages (Under Section 14 (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, the consumer courts can also award punitive damages in such circumstances as it deems fit ). You could also get in touch with these other consumers and all of you can file a class action suit.

In the meanwhile, keep all papers pertaining to the repeated servicing of the geyser safe. So also product brochures pertaining to the product - particularly their claims about its quality.

I would also suggest that you talk to some experts and get their opinion in writing on the quality of this product. This would also come in very handy in your case against the manufacturer and the service centre.