Members of consumer courts at the district level often talk regretfully about having to turn away complainants who fail to produce one of the most important documents required to prove that the complainant is indeed a consumer - the receipt showing that the product or service that they are complaining about, was actually paid for by them.
The Consumer Protection Act defines a consumer as a person who 'buys' any good or 'hires' any service for a 'consideration'. In the absence of any payment or consideration, the consumer does not acquire the right to complain under the law.
But unfortunately, a large section of traders and even service providers issue no receipt for the payment that they collect. Indeed, they manage to do business without receipt books because consumers in India do not know their rights or are not assertive about their rights. So, by not issuing the receipt, the businesses not only manage to evade taxes, but also prevent consumers from complaining against them - at least before the consumer court.
Well, the union ministry of consumer affairs is now making an effort to ensure that consumers get their receipts. In the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2011, introduced in the Parliament last year, it made failure to issue a bill or a cash memo, an unfair trade practice.
Under the Consumer Protection Act, a consumer has a right to be protected against unfair trade practices so he/she can complain against those who do not issue the bill, for unfair trade practice. The Amendment Bill, which is now before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, is expected to be passed in the next session of Parliament.
HS Walia: Recently, a DTH provider charged for extra cable at the time of installation of a new dish connection, but issued no receipt. When I talked to the representative of the operator, I was informed that they do not issue receipts, nor do other companies. So much so, that no receipt was issued for the initial payment for the connection. Consumers face a major problem on account of such refusal of service providers to give receipts, because consumer courts do not entertain complaints without the receipt. What can consumers do?
Answer: Once the amendments to the CP Act are passed and notified, consumers will be in a better position to deal with those who refuse to issue receipts.
On the refusal of the DTH provider to issue a receipt, I would suggest that you please bring this to the notice of the Telecom Regulatory Authority. You may be aware that TRAI has passed Direct to Home Broadcasting Services (Standards of Quality of Service and Redressal of Grievances) Regulation, 2007 and further amended it in 2009.