Really frustrated by a company’s attitude? Read this quick guide to filing a consumer complaint.
We’ll keep it short – chances are, if you are reading this, you are angry right now.
If a company provides you with a faulty product or a deficient service, you are entitled to get relief. Before you decide to file a complaint, make sure you have done the following – spoken to the company ‘s customer care, escalated the call, tried reasoning, approached the industry ombudsman (if any). If you are still not happy, read on.
Send the company a notice. A notice is a letter, hand-written or printed on plain paper which explains what exactly happened, what you are unhappy about, what you would like the company to do and what you would do in case the company does not resolve the issue. Here are some tips on writing this letter:
1. Do not misstate facts.
2. Specify all the details which would enable the company to resolve your complaint faster (who you spoke to, invoice number, request number, product id, , date of purchase etc.).
3. Do not use foul language or threaten. However, be firm.
4. Provide a 15 day period for them to resolve your complaint.
5. Make sure that you mention a line to the effect that if the company fails to resolve the issue, you would be forced to file a consumer complaint and take other action as well.
At this stage, usually the company will call you back or email you and start taking your complaint seriously. If they offer you relief, or some kind of incentives, coupons, free product or service, do consider their offer seriously.
There is also the possibility that the company will not reply to your notice or reply to say that they would not be able to solve your complaint. In such a case, you are left with no option but to go to the appropriate forum .
Process in Consumer Forums
Consumer Forums are divided into 3 levels – District Level, State Level and the National. If the total amount involved in your complaint (worth of the goods or services and the compensation you ask for) is below Rs.20 lakhs, then you will have to approach a District Forum. Typically, you have to file your complaint at the District Forum under whose jurisdiction the company or its dealer or its authorized agent carries on business. For understand where you can file your complaint, please see Understanding Jurisdiction of Consumer Forums. To find the address of a district forum, see this.
Typically it will take about 6-12months to resolve a complaint through the District Forum. If the stakes involved are high, either side may appeal and the matter may take longer. You have the option to appear before the District Forum yourself or through a lawyer. Usually people do not have the time to appear themselves, so they hire a lawyer. A lawyer can charge anywhere between Rs.2000 to Rs.20000 for a consumer complaint depending upon the complexity of the case, his/her experience, and your willingness to pay. If you would like to find a lawyer in your city, fill in the Akosha Find a Legal Expert form.
During the course of the case, you might have to appear 2-4 times in the District Forum. Don’t be intimidated by this – the judges are generally customer friendly and you are only required to state the facts.
Why don’t people file complaints?
Despite the ease of using consumer forums, a lot of customers don’t end up filing a complaint. It’s a quick cost benefit analysis – it sounds like too much time, money and effort to pursue it. Sometimes the stakes involved are not that great; also Indian customers have a chalta hai attitude. Once their issue is resolved, they move on with their lives. However, if you are really frustrated with something, it is important to know how to file a consumer complaint. And companies like ours, help you do this in a hassle free manner.
Just like the RTI, filing a consumer complaint is a powerful tool for consumers. If you are unhappy with a product or service, just follow this process and you should come out happy on the other side.
To more information, read Frequently Asked Questions about Consumer Complaints.
Have you ever filed a consumer complaint yourself? Do share your experience with us.
File your consumer complaint here.