Recently, a friend related her bad experience with a tailor - she had bought two expensive suit lengths for her son and given it for stitching. The finished product, however, was so bad that despite several repairs, the suit was ill-fitting. "I have paid a steep price for the fabric and also for tailoring and the result is very distressing and I do not know what to do," she said.
For those facing similar problems, I wish to quote the case of Sri AC Modagi Vs Cross Well Tailor and Others (revision petition no. 75 of 1990), wherein the highest consumer court in the country — the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission — clarified that consumers can sue tailors and seek compensation under the Consumer Protection Act for any deficient service rendered by them.
This case pertained to a pair of pants given for stitching by Mr Modagi. When the tailor delivered it, Modagi found them unfit to wear. The tailor carried out several repairs, but that only made matters worse.
When the tailor refused to give him the cost of the fabric and the stitching charges, Modagi filed a case before the consumer court. The order of the apex consumer court in this case comes to the rescue of many consumers like Modagi because here the court looked at the fundamental question of whether a consumer court can adjudicate over such cases at all.
The tailor's argument in this case was that stitching clothes was in the nature of 'personal service' and the tailoring charges collected by the tailor were like 'wages' paid towards such a service. Since 'personal service' attracts the exclusion clause under the Consumer Protection Act, consumer courts cannot adjudicate over complaints against tailors, he contended.
Dismissing such a point of view, the National Commission made it clear that a 'personal service' pertained to a master and servant relationship, which was totally different from a tailor-client relationship. Unlike in a master-servant relationship, here the tailor was independent of any supervision or control of the consumer while he was cutting the cloth or stitching it.
The tailor was bound to obey the direction given by the consumer about the design, but no further. Thus, the service rendered by the tailor was a professional service and not a personal service, the apex consumer court held.
However, I must make it clear that in order to go to the consumer court, you must have a receipt for the work undertaken by the tailor.
Sonal Thakur: I had given a fully embroidered fabric to the tailor to stitch. The fabric cost R650 and the tailor charged me Rs 190 for stitching. However, when he gave it, I found that he had completely spoiled it. I returned it to him for alterations, but that did not help and the dress fits badly. Worse, during repair, he has torn the fabric at a few places and some of the threads of the embroidery have also come out. I bought it to wear to college but now I cannot even wear it at home. What do I do?
Answer: Please ask the tailor to pay the cost of the fabric and the tailoring charges or to get a similar fabric and stitch it for you, free of cost. Also, inform him that you have an option to go to the consumer court if he refuses.
I would also suggest that you get together some of your friends (if the shop is located near your college) or other residents (if he is near your home) and take them along to impress upon the tailor that he will lose clients if he does not redress your complaint. Hope it works!