Whenever you buy an appliance, make sure that you collect a proper receipt with all details duly filled in. Also collect the warranty card and get it stamped by the dealer. If the product ever malfunctions, complain and note down the name of the person you spoke to and the time at which you did that. If there is no response, file a written complaint and take an acknowledgement for it.
If someone attends to your complaint, get a receipt on the rectification done and the payment made. In short, keep a record of every transaction, every complaint. If, at any time, you need to lodge a complaint about the product before the consumer court, these will come in handy.
In fact, they will constitute crucial evidence. You would also do well to get the opinion of an expert to examine the product and give a certificate about its defects and attach this with your complaint.
In short, make sure that you have a strong case to back your allegations when you file a complaint. Or else, you may well lose your case. Let me quote a recent case decided by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to underscore the points I have made.
This particular case had its origin in the television set bought by Mr Kamal Kishore in 1988 for R2,200. Mr Kishore’s allegation was that the set stopped working within just two to three days of purchase and despite his repeated complaints, the set was neither replaced nor repaired.
The consumer court at the district level ordered the manufacturer and the dealer to jointly take responsibility for the defective set and replace it with a new one within a month.
However, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission set aside this order on the ground that there was no proof to show that the consumer had ever complained about the set or that the product had stopped working within a few days of purchase.
The State Commission observed that if the consumer had complained, there should be some proof of it—if he had sent the complaint in writing, there should be copies. In the absence of any proof to show that he had complained, the Commission was inclined to believe that no such complaint had been made.
Commented the Commission: “The allegation of manufacturing defect in a machine is not to be taken as a gospel truth on mere statement but it is required to be proved beyond doubt by means of a credible documentary evidence.” It also pointed out that an expert’s opinion could have helped, but even this was not provided. The National Commission too agreed with this view in its order (Kamal Kishore Vs Electronic Corporation of India, RP No 3092 of 2010, decided on Jan 17,2011).
Pavitra Dev: Recently, I paid a steep price and bought some carved wooden chairs from a shop. Within a month, one of the legs of the chair gave way and I have been asking him to replace it, but he says he will repair it, but not give me a replacement. What can I do? I do not have a cash receipt.
Answer: In the absence of proof of purchase, it is difficult to lodge a complaint against him before the consumer court. The best option is to try and persuade him to give you a replacement. You can also write a formal letter to him on the subject and see if he will respond, accepting that he had sold the chair to you. The next time you buy anything, please ensure that you collect a cash receipt for the payment made.