Not revealing the inherent drawbacks of a product is unfair trade practice, the Mumbai Suburban Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ruled in a case last week.
The forum made this observation while directing a retailer, Next-E-Mart India Limited, to pay a customer Rs 25,000 as compensation for luring him to purchase a plasma television set but withholding crucial information pertaining to inherent drawbacks of the technology. “Non disclosure of facts to the customer not only establishes the deficiency in service but also establishes the adoption of unfair trade practice,” said the bench comprising forum president JL Deshpande and member DS Bidnurkar.
Chembur residents Sunil and Madhuri Kunthe had purchased a plasma television set for Rs 56,000 with some other electronics from the retailer’s Chembur showroom in April 2007. They alleged that the sales personnel at the shop did not mention the drawbacks of plasma technology, and did not hand over a user manual before the purchase.
The Kunthes said they were under the impression that the product came with the usual guarantee and that the manufacturer would provide back-up service.
The couple said when the items were delivered at their residence, it found that the manufacturer had clearly mentioned three specific drawbacks of the technology in the brochure and also that every customer be made aware of these problems.
The couple contacted Next-E-Mart and asked for replacements worth the price of the television set. They approached the consumer forum after waiting for few days for a favourable reply from the retailer.
The Kunthes sought a compensation of Rs 1 lakh apart from a refund of the amount paid for the television set.
The forum allowed the complaint by directing Next-E-Mart to refund the cost of the TV, but reduced the amount of compensation to Rs 25,000, saying the compensation the complainants sought was exorbitant. “No doubt, there must be mental agony for such unfair transactions but mental agony can not be counted in terms of money,” the forum noted while reducing the compensation.