Appalling stories of cheating brands are fairly common in our world. What is rare is a fascinating story of a consumer who fights for his rights and sees the end of it, without giving up at any point.
Anything which involves courts, judiciary or related rigmarole is a strict no-no for most people in this country. And consumer forums, by virtue (or vice) of belonging to this family seem to have inherited this untouchability. This despite the fact that consumer forums by far are the most friendly courts in the country with probably the simplest procedures.
As the general hangup continues to haunt the consumer world in the country, it is heartening to come across consumers who were willing to look beyond the perceived hassles and actually take up an issue is the forum with a successful outcome.
Mr. Navindu Singla, was one such consumer, who with a little help from Akosha, ended up securing his due and his rights.
Mr Singla has been a regular subscriber of India Today for the longest period of time. Loyalty richly rewarded, he received a call from a Today group executive, stating that he was their “premium” customer and has become eligible for an offer under hich Rs. 30,000 worth of diamonds were being given out for half their price, that is, 15000, through its entity Bagittoday.
An offer too good to refuse, and also relying on the reputation that Today group and consequently, Bagittoday enjoys, Mr. Singla, immediately made an online payment for the same. The diamonds arrived along with some free gifts that were approximately worth Rs. 3000 or so.
However, when he got the diamonds checked, much to his horror and dismay, he found that the diamonds were actually fake, with a worth of not more than Rs. 500.
Appalled at being cheated, he immediately called up the Bagittoday’s customer care, demanding a refund as per their policy. As expected, he was greeted with a very rude response, saying that he can’t buy or refund the stuff at will.
In Mr. Singla’s own words, he wasn’t really flustered by the monetary loss. But what really bothered him was rudeness and nonchalance with which the staff of a reputed group like Today behaved with its customers.
This was the point where he came across Akosha. Akosha sent out a letter to the group to no response.
A complaint then filed with the consumer forum. Despite repeated notices, the Group chose to ignore the proceedings and did not make an appearance. An ex-parte order was then passed, ordering the Group to refund the entire amount.
Ironically despite the order, the neither Bagittoday nor Today Group responded. It was at this point, a really and justifiably annoyed Singla, in consultation with Akosha, sought the execution of the order and got non-bailable warrants issued against the CEO of the group.
This extreme step finally evoked a response and the company’s lawyer got in touch with Mr. Singla, which was promptly followed up by payment in full. The flustered Today Group did not even bother to take their stuff back before refunding the amount, leaving a relieved Singla with both money and goods (not that diamonds were worth anything but there were also some other gifts, which at least had some value).
Tadka Take 2
There are a couple of remarkable highlights in this story. The first one being the universal fact of reputed Brands cheating/harassing/tormenting their consumers–as an acceptable routine, with a discomforting nonchalance. When someone like Today Group resorts to consumer harassment, it is disturbing at more levels than one.
But then again, going by the number of complaints that flood our elder siblings at Akosha against Bagittoday, it doesn’t really look like Today Group takes its reputation too seriously.
The second and the more important point here was unruffled mistreatment and mis-behaviour by company personnel. Last we checked, customer care reps by job description are supposed to be polite.
But then, may be we reside in different worlds.
And it is this rudeness which irks most consumers (as Mr. Singla also pointed out) more than the actual loss or act of cheating.
Now, only if companies realized how effective polite customer care could be in cutting down their litigation costs.
Highlights aside, the moral of this story is fairly simple–Consumer forums do work, if approached right and with conviction. There is help out there, only if the consumers were willing to step up and claim their rights.
Stop shoving the issues under the carpet just to avoid some inconvenience. Raise your issues because unless you do that, there is no hope of them getting resolved as they deserve to be.