complaint against Tata Motors, to pay 60K as compensation for mental agony-true consumer story
Important: We are running this story against Tata Motors because it embodies 2 very important burning issues when it comes Brand behavior in instances of consumer complaints-(1) Stalling attitude to frustrate the crusading consumer and wriggle out of the issue (2) Not abiding by the consumer forum awards, in part or in full, unless forced through execution orders and/or threatened with arrest warrants.
We have always maintained that cars and automobiles are the ultimate symbol of human aspiration in this country. by implication, the issues involving cars also end up symbolizing and encapsulating the bulk of issues faced by consumers in the country.
When Chetan Gill, from Chandigarh approached us with his story, we initially thought it to be one of the consumer forum triumph stories that we routinely cover. However, as we talked to Chetan, we figured his case was way more layered, capturing a lot of nuanced issues that were relevant to consumers of all sectors in general and not just automobile consumers. Chetan pointed out concerns that we had been highlighting for long, albeit Chetan’s concern were more weighted as they derived from his first-hand experience with the consumer forum.
Below is a brief background of what happened in Chetan’s case.
Chetan had intended to buy a Tata CS from an authorized Tata Motors Dealer, Joshi Autozone in Chandigarh. Upon recommendation from the dealers that a Dicor engine is better than TDI, he bought a car in June 2008, with a warranty extending upto December 2009.
The car began troubling Chetan in the first month itself, emitting abnormal noises and stalling when the air-conditioner was switched on. A complaint was lodged with Tata helpline and it was only after that the dealer, Joshi Autozone agreed to examine the car. They, however, failed to either identify or rectify the fault. It was evident that there was a manufacturing defect in the product which had been sold by Tata Motors and their dealers.
When Chetan filed a complaint, Tata Motors refuted the claim of there being any manufacturing defect. Car was declared defective from the first month of its purchase and had gone to the workshop on at least 15 occasions and was also examined by an Expert Committee of Punjab Engineering College as ordered by the District Forum which had listed the multifarious defects. The Chandigarh District Forum awarded Rs.20,000 as compensation for mental agony and harassment.
What happened after this point is what makes this particular case interesting from Brand behavior perspective. Tata did not go into appeal, either hoping to resort to the age old stalling tactic to wriggle out of the trouble or happy to be let off lightly.
Relentless Chetan, however, went ahead and filed an enhancement appeal and the Chandigarh State Commission modified the District Forum’s award, ordering compensation of Rs. 50, 000 for mental & physical harassment, litigation charges of Rs. 10,000 and most importantly, repair of all the defects and if the defects are not removed to the satisfaction of the complainant then refund of full price of vehicle. What is even more appreciable is the fact that the refund was supposed to be in full, not taking into account any depreciation in the value of the product.
Tadka Take 2
As of today, despite Chetan’s victory in State Commission, Tata is yet to fulfill the later part of the award, that is repair the defects or refund in full. Cheatn is determined to see the end of this and is planning to opt for execution of the awards and get warrants issued against concerned Tata personnel if required.
Selling a defective product in itself is problematic, a cardinal error for any Brand, especially if it is as reputed as Tata. But. such instances could still be forgiven, as instances of human error, only if Brands were gracious enough to accept their mistake and take measure for its immediate rectification. In most such cases, what bothers us much more than the actual issue is the attitude of the Brands towards the aggrieved consumer. Stooping to stalling tactics in a bid to frustrate and get rid of the aggrieved consumer, is a fairly common and despicable practice among most Brands. Extremely disappointing when consumer happiness is supposed to be supreme for any responsible Brand, worthy of its reputation.
What has also become an extremely disturbing trend, going by the complaints that we get, is Brands avoiding to abide by the award of the consumer forums unless forced through execution orders and warrants. As was seen in this case, where Tata followed the award but only partially, stalling the rest. This is pure disrespect, not only towards the consumers but towards the legal system of the country. Brands really need to introspect and stop considering such cases as one of instances or aberrations. Trying to avoid a legal decree is serious misconduct and any Brand that chooses to indulge in such a practice is severely jeopardizing its credibility in more ways than one which may come back to haunt them when they would be least expecting it.