In today’s age, online shopping and digital transactions have become a common practice in India. Ever since Covid enforced a lockdown, the dependence on online e-commerce portals for shopping and doing other money transactions has increased. But this doesn’t come without its share of flaws as many a time consumers have to go through a bad experience due to a product they purchased or a service they paid for. In such a scenario, a person often finds himself/herself helpless about what to do and where to go.
But not anymore, as in this article, you will get to know about the ways in which one can file a complaint against the brand that has wronged them and even seek a refund for one’s losses. Before diving into how a complaint is filed, we will talk about a case where filing a complaint is totally valid.
Twitter User Vs Amazon/Apple
A Twitter user Pavi tweeted a series of posts on May 24th voicing out the injustice that is being done to him by Apple as well as Amazon.
He writes- “After series of unfortunate events, extreme anxiety and constant abuse, whataboutery and complete unwillingness to help from your customer services, this is my final call to @amazon before I take legal action.”
The user goes on to explain the case as he states that he bought an iPhone 13 blue 128GB with his savings. After he unboxed the device, he found that the volume buttons were not working. He immediately called amazon customer support and they asked him to take the device to the apple service center.
He did and their Apple service center people sent the device for further diagnostics to their Bangalore center. He informed amazon who claimed that they can open the replacement window for just 7 days and apple would obviously take more days to resolve the issue. The user claims that the events that happened after this show how corporates like amazon abuse their power.
He writes- “ apple claimed that the phone has internal accidental damage and might be a refurbished piece. They refused service under warranty and even voided the warranty as the phone has been opened up. As a parting gift, apple returned the phone with a big scratch on the front screen. Now I presented the case to amazon with the JOB sheet and a service summary from apple clearly stating that the device has accidental damage. Amazon asked me for a letter of service of denial which apple refused to give.”
The user claims that after days of verbal abuse, and whataboutery, he is pissed. He claims that the service team at amazon was ignorant, inconsiderate, and rude. They flagged his calls and refused to help him. This he believes is a clear case of corporates abusing their power. The user has tagged JagoGrahakJago and asked for help, citing that he has been mentally struggling and having anxiety attacks due to the incident. Although the Amazon Help Twitter handle has asked for more details in the replies section, no one can deny that such incidents lead to consumers suffering the most.
This is just one instance, there are many others whose voices are never heard because they have no idea how to seek justice. In such a scenario, filing a complaint and seeking a refund becomes the only way out.
Who can file a Consumer Complaint?
A consumer complaint can be filed by-
- One or more consumers
- Any registered voluntary consumers association
- Central/State Government
- Heir/legal representative of any consumer
- If the consumer is a minor, the complaint can be filed by his parent/legal guardian.
Under any of the following conditions, a consumer complaint can be filed-
- Deficiency of services
- Unfair trade practices
- A manufacturing defect in the product
Reasons to file a consumer complaint
1. Adopting unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice by the service provider.
2. defective goods, whether already brought or agreed to be brought by the complainant.
3. Deficiency in services, whether hired or availed or agreed to be hired or availed.
4. Overcharging of goods or services more than the price that may have been fixed by law or displayed on the packaging of goods or the price list exhibited or so agreed between the parties.
5. Selling or offering to sell hazardous goods or services which pose a threat to life and safety when used or availed, provided the trader could know that the goods or services are hazardous by due diligence.
Documents needed to file a consumer complaint
One needs to have the following documents as conclusive evidence to make the complaint stronger-
1. A copy of the bill, receipt of delivery, packaging of a product, and a record of online booking of the goods bought.
2. Warranty/Guarantee certificates.
3. A copy of the written complaint and notice sent to the manufacturer/seller.
How to file a consumer complaint from the web/phone?
A consumer complaint can be filed from the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) website or even from the phone app. Here are the steps-
From NCH Website
1. Go to the website of the National Consumer Helpline.
2. Create an account or sign in to your account from the top right corner. If you are not an existing member, the sign-up process is very simple. Just fill in the form, set a password, and verify your account via an OTP.
3. Choose the category of grievance you want to file.
1st is Consumer Grievance. Here, you have to choose from options like Airlines, Banking, Automobiles, DTH, FMCG, and more, and fill in details like Grievance Type, State, City, Industry company name, etc. from the drop-down menu. Describe your grievance, mention the amount of product/service and attach supporting documents.
2nd one is Misleading advertisements. Here you can report any misleading advertisement or any specific thing about the ad which is misleading. Adds can be in newspapers, TV, Radio, magazines, posters, or even online. Fill in the details from the drop-down menu. Fill in the company name and address of the company, describe your grievance and attach supporting documents.
3rd is a complaint on E-DAAKHIL. It is a portal for online and offline filing of complaints by aggrieved consumers and facilitates digital payments related to it. It was launched back in September 2020 by The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). Later this facility expanded to 23 States/UTs for respective State Commission and District Commissions. Facilitating a consumer to file a consumer case from anywhere. It’s a virtual court, as there are services like:
- filing online notices,
- downloading the respective case document link related to any filed case,
- downloading the court hearing video,
- filing the reply in writing for issues raised by another party,
- getting alert subscription messages through mail or SMS and other issues like additional filing by the complainant.
From the NCH mobile application
1. Download the NCH app on your phone from the Google play store. Currently, it is not available in the apple store.
2. sign-up to create an account or log in if you are an existing user.
3. click on the hamburger menu button (three lines) from the top left.
4. choose the category of grievance you want to file. The same three options- Grievance Registration, Misleading advertisement, and E-Daakhil are available to register your complaint.
From the UMANG Application
1. Download the NCH app on your phone from the Google Play Store or Apple App store.
2. Sign-up to create an account or log in if you are an existing user.
3. Click on the All services tab, and search the national consumer helpline.
4. Now tap on Register Grievance.
5. Here you can only register a grievance complaint against a product or service, unlike the NCH app and website. This can be done by filling in details like state, purchase city, industry, company name, etc. with supporting documents.
Protect Yourself from Consumer Harrasment
This is how you can file a complaint if you have been wronged by a product/service you have purchased. After filing the complaint, you will receive a confirmation on your registered e-mail id. In case this doesn’t help, then you will have to take help from a lawyer. If you have any other questions or queries regarding this process, drop them in the comments section below.