From laptops and air conditioners to shoes, dresses and beauty products, these days you can buy a wide range of goods from tele-marketing channels or television channels that market goods.
However, keeping in mind the kind of complaints that I have been getting regarding some of the goods bought on these channels, I would suggest a few precautionary steps before making your purchase decision.
First and foremost, cross-check their price claims. Are they really giving a good discount as made out? Compare the price with some of the brick-and-mortar shops and even online shops. Second, find out if you can return the goods for a full refund (including couriering charges) if you are not happy with the purchase? Also, find out whether the television channel will take responsibility for the goods (in addition to the seller actually selling the goods on the channel)?
You also must find out if they have a complaint redress mechanism and if yes then how does it work? Who sits in judgement over the complaints? But most important, before placing that order, check the track record of the television channel, the seller and the product being sold. Many times an outdated product may be marketed at a great discount. See if there are any consumer complaints about any of them. In short, do due diligence before making a purchase decision. Remember, you are not actually examining the goods nor are you meeting the seller. So you need to be extra careful.
Manohar Chawla: On seeing the advertisements of a vegetable slicer on television, I ordered two of them at a cost of R3983 and received the parcel on April 8. However, when I used the machine, all the blades came off and could not be fixed. Since there was no positive response to my repeated telephone calls, I decided to make use of the ‘15-day money back offer if not satisfied with the performance of the product’ and sent the product to them by courier to their Mumbai office. However, despite repeated e-mail and telephone reminders, they have not refunded the cost of the product. Which authority should I approach?
Answer: Your best bet is to go to the consumer court. Let me warn you that the process of redress before the court is not very quick but you will certainly get justice. Let me quote the case of Asian Sky shop Vs LK Pandya (RP No 986 of 2002, decided on July 15, 2002) for reference.
Mr Pandya had placed an order for jewellery at a cost of R8,200 with the telemarketing company in 1995. However, when he received the parcels, the contents were not what he had ordered. When neither the jeweller nor the teleshopping network responded to his complaints, he filed a complaint before the consumer court. The argument of the teleshopping network here was that it was neither the supplier nor the manufacturer of the jewellery. And there was no contract of service with the consumer. So, it cannot be held liable for the contents not reaching the consumer.
The district consumer forum, however disagreed and asked Asian Sky shop to pay a total of R34,700 along with 18 per cent interest calculated from 1995 till the date of payment
Upholding this verdict, the highest consumer court in the country, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, made a highly relevant point. It emphasized that the telemarketing company had failed to act on the consumer’s complaint, forcing him to approach the consumer court for justice. And this failure on its part not only amounted to deficiency in service, but also an unfair trade practice. And it had to be held liable for both.