When he signed up with a big name in the interior design business to get his apartment done up, Naresh Kumar, a resident of Omaxe Grandwood in Noida Expressway, had no idea about the problems that lay ahead. “The entire woodwork in the kitchen collapsed just within a few days after it was put up. I was promised that high-quality plywood would be used but that was not done.”
An irate Kumar then filed a case with the district consumer forum, which fined the company for the mental and physical harassment it had caused to the aggrieved party by using “inferior quality particle board and not ISI mark material as requested by the petitioner.” The company was directed to return `3lakh that Kumar had paid for the interior design work (See copy of the order above in Hindi). Even then, the company refused to honour the court order and Kumar had to file another petition with the court for the execution of its order.
Several cases have come up in consumer courts against the malpractices adopted by a number of interior design companies. As it becomes difficult to arrange for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc, many people think it convenient to sign up with a company offering a one-stop-solution to fixing their homes. “Many interior design companies set up shop in malls and new societies and throw the bait to owners of new homes, promising them beautifully done up interiors. Once hooked, the poor homeowner has to pay `2000 per room for a three-dimensional computer designed plan. Then the company sends people over to assess the homeowner’s needs and requirements, makes site-visits for measurements of rooms and cupboards and cabinets.
“The customer is impressed when plans are beautifully presented with the aid of 3D software imaging and thinks the actual work will be carried out with sincerity,” says another homebuyer who faced problems similar to Kumar’s. The company had promised to complete the interiors of his home in four months but took a year-and-a-half to do it.
There have been cases when these companies have even hiked prices after taking 50%of the advance amount from their clients. Not only that, no legal agreement with specifications, timeline and penalties is drawn up.
Avtansh Verma, a software engineer living in Greater Noida, who has also filed a petition against an interior design company in the consumer court, says that carpentry work was done offsite in his case and he could not supervise the work. “They played with the quality of material, employed workers without verifying their skills . After completing the cupboards and cabinets offsite, a team of workers came home and installed everything within 10 hours. The finish, on first glance, appeared perfect. However, defects become evident after a few days,” he says. This is the time when the consumer has to begin a long, hard battle to get the flaws rectified or to get his money back from the company.