On November 10, 1989, Ms Meenal Telrandhe was cooking in her kitchen when the pressure cooker exploded. One of the injuries left a permanent mark — a disability on her right hand.
In response to the complaint filed on her behalf by a consumer organization, the manufacturer argued that the accident was the result of her failure to follow usage instructions and it could not be faulted
for it. The consumer organization, Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, contended that if only the safety mechanisms in the cooker had worked, it would not have blown up.
Eventually the consumer court held that the manufacturer had failed to prove misuse and it concluded that the cooker was defective.
Keeping in mind that the victim was 30-year-old civil engineer and a mother of two small children, the consumer court had awarded her a compensation of R 1 lakh.
It also asked the manufacturer to replace the defective cooker and pay her medical bills amounting to Rs 38,000. (TT Private Ltd Vs Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, FA NO 243 of 1993, NC order dated June 18, 1996) I quote this case to emphasize the responsibility of the retailer and the manufacturer towards the safety of the products that they sell.
More recently, in the case of Chemisol Adhesive Pvt Ltd Vs Shri Dhanaji Shankar Dalvi (RP No 3050 of 2009, decided on March 29, 2010), the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission underscored the duty of the manufacturer and the retailer towards ensuring the safe use of products that they manufacture and sell through proper warning labels and usage instructions.
Those who fail to do so will have to pay for the consequences, the commission held.
Dr Lalit Tanwar: I bought a pressure cooker from Karol Bagh. But it was not working properly and when informed of it, the shopkeeper asked us to come back for a replacement after Diwali. When we went he just took our bill, our address and said an engineer from the company would visit us. But no one has turned up till now. I want to lodge a complaint with the consumer court, but do not know where it is.
Answer: The retailer's behaviour speaks volumes about his customer relations. He should have attended to your complaint immediately and not asked you to come back when it suited him! Because of his action, you not only could not use the pressure cooker but also had to visit the shop twice and still could not get satisfactory redress.
If you have a residents' welfare society, please inform the members of the way this shopkeeper has behaved so that others are forewarned.
The welfare society can also threaten to boycott the retailer unless he mends his ways and redresses your complaint satisfactorily.
You can also inform him in writing of your intention to go to the consumer court if he does not immediately give you a replacement.
Meanwhile, do not take any chances with a malfunctioning pressure cooker. It could be dangerous. I would suggest that you also write to the manufacturer about your complaint. For information on the location of the consumer court, you can call the consumer helpline number 1800-11-4000.
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