The Advisory Boar
Our UPS is hooked up to three Exide Powersafe EP65-12 SLA (Sealed Lead
Acid) batteries. Normally, that gives us about six hours of backup time
for my desktop, monitor, and a few assorted peripherals. It's not often
that the mains power is off for so long (less than half a dozen times a
year, I'd guess), but that capacity has proven invaluable in the past.
For the last few months, however, the UPS has lasted for half an hour at
most, even when the batteries were fully charged. Using a multimeter, I
found that the voltage across one of the batteries fell rapidly to 10.5V
just before the UPS died, while the other two remained above 12V. Since
the batteries were still under warranty, I contacted the vendor to ask
about having them replaced (which I have had to do in the past)
Unlike last time, the vendor told me to register a complaint with Exide,
which I did after some delay due to external circumstances. An engineer
was dispatched to visit me a couple of days later, and after testing the
system, he agreed with my diagnosis: one battery was bad. He wrote up a
report and went on his way after telling me that the replacement should
arrive in a few days. Unfortunately, what did arrive the next day was
email from his supervisor, saying they couldn't
replace the battery because the charging current was "too low". (The
mail also said that I didn't have the original invoice for the purchase
of the batteries, but that was just the engineer trying to cover his ass
after forgetting to ask me for it.)
I was surprised, to say the least, because the engineer had given me no
reason to think there was any problem during his visit. I called my UPS
vendor (Compact UPS) to discuss
the problem. They had serviced the UPS a few months earlier, and assured
me that nothing was wrong with it. They told me that they restricted the
charging current to slightly less than 6.5A—which is the minimum that
Mr. Gupta said was needed—because they had experienced problems in the
past with charging Exide batteries at a higher current. Armed with this
knowledge, I arranged for a joint visit with both Exide and Compact UPS
engineers early the next week.
The UPS guy arrived first, and tested the system. The Exide guy arrived
half an hour later, and repeated the tests. Both agreed that the battery
was undoubtedly bad, and neither thought the problem had anything to do
with the charging current. (We also observed that when the mains power
was switched on, the current started out at over 5A and dropped very
quickly to 3.7A as the battery's voltage came up, making the UPS think
it was fully charged.) The UPS guy explained his take on the current
question to the Exide guy, who offered no disagreement. Both said they
were surprised that the battery had lasted even as long as it had.
But this was not good enough to change Exide's mind about honouring the
warranty. Mr. Gupta again refused to replace the battery, even though
the charging current was obviously dropping when observed because the
batteries appeared to be fully charged; and even though the other two
batteries worked fine, which seems rather unlikely if the charger were
somehow broken; and even though both of his own engineers thought the
battery was at fault independent of the charging current. I replied to
him to make these points, and he replied to say that my battery "worked
perfectly for a period of more than 10 months" (which exaggerates the
truth by a few months, but the delay in reporting the problem was my
fault entirely, not his), and that the warranty applies only if the
battery was maintained according to the conditions specified in the
warranty card, which did not cover "improper charging".
I fished the warranty card out from my records and looked at it. It does
exclude problems caused by "improper charging", but the parameters given
specify only a maximum current of 0.2CA (i.e. 13A), no minimum.
Furthermore, nobody has offered a credible explanation for how charging
at a marginally lower current could have damaged only one battery out of
three. (Remember: the batteries were nowhere near fully drained in these
tests, so when the mains power was switched on, their voltage was higher
than it would have been if they were drained, and so the charger applied
a smaller current; Ohm's law.) The
also recommends a lower charging current:
The exception is not to
use a charger (or charging setting) for SLA batteries that is greater
than 10% of the AH (C/20) capacity.
Of course, it's in Exide's interest to claim "improper charging" and
deny warranty claims, especially close to the end of the one-year
warranty period. I'm afraid this means I will no longer buy or recommend
Exide batteries again (especially after both the UPS engineer and the
Exide engineer gave me the distinct impression that it was increasingly
common for Exide to try to deny legitimate claims these days).
(formerly Global Yuasa) batteries seem like a credible replacement.
Update (2012-11-29): I
filed a case against Exide
at the District Consumer Forum ("consumer court") in August 2010. After
nearly two and a half years of monthly hearings and interminable delays
caused by Exide, I have received a
judgement in my favour.
Exide was ordered to replace the faulty battery and compensate me for
court costs and the harassment I was subjected to (in the view of the
Update (2013-01-08): Exide replaced all three batteries and sent
me a cheque for the compensation amount.
with trying to have a faulty Exide battery replaced under warranty,
Hassath and I didn't want to let the matter slide, and decided to
approach the consumer court.
Under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, a number of quasi-judicial
bodies empowered to deal with consumer grievances have been set up at
the district and state level, under an apex body in Delhi called the
National Consumer Dispute Redressal
Commission; in this case, the East Delhi District Consumer Forum
was the most appropriate forum for our complaint.
We spoke to someone at the DCF on the phone, and were told to bring two
copies of our petition to them the next day. We spent a couple of hours
preparing the petition (following an example on the NCDRC web site) and
assembling a paper trail to establish our case (warranty cards, reports
of the inspection, email correspondence). We stopped by the Post Office
to get a blank Postal Order for INR 100 (the filing fee), and submitted
all of this documentation to the (very pleasant) officer at the DCF the
He asked us to pick a date for the initial filing, and we decided on the
tenth of August—which happened to be when the warranty of our batteries
expired. We were told to appear in court at 10:30 on that morning, for
the case to be brought before the Forum and admitted (or thrown out).
We went to court this morning, waited around for a while, and were quite
surprised to hear my name called first (the invoice for the purchase of
the batteries was in my name, so it was my name on the petition). Two of
the Forum's three judges in attendance, and they were handling cases in
parallel. I was called by the (stern-looking, but very kind) lady judge,
and asked to explain the case. She listened to me, reviewed the petition
briefly, and told me to add the battery vendor as an opposing party in
the case (our petition named only Exide). Fortunately, I had a complete
extra set of all the documentation with me, and she allowed me to just
scribble an extra name and address on all three copies.
In the end, she assigned a date one month later, and ordered notices to
be sent to the two opposing parties. Now we have to turn up in court on
the new date, and we'll see what Exide does by way of opposition.
I was scheduled to appear before the
District Consumer Forum
today, and was curious to see what defence Exide would mount, if any.
When my case was announced, I went up to the bench and identified
myself. It turned out that the opposing parties (Exide, and the dealer I
bought the batteries from) had not even been notified about the case!
Their copies of the paperwork were still sitting in the file.
Blah. Next appearance: end of October.
After my farcical
last appearance before the
District Consumer Forum, I wasn't expecting much from today's hearing.
To my surprise, however, someone from Exide (an ordinary bloke, not a
lawyer) was present today. The (lone) presiding Forum member asked for
our names, noted our appearance in the file, gave the Exide guy a copy
of the complaint (it turns out that the notification sent by the DCF is
only a summons to collect a copy of the complaint), and told us to come
back a month later. I didn't need to do anything at all.
I'll have to wait until the end of November (at least) to find out how
Exide will respond to my complaint. At this rate, I will need to buy new
batteries long before the court decides whether Exide should replace the
old ones or not.
Today was my fourth appearance before the District Consumer Forum. I
expected Exide to respond to my complaint, since they sent someone to
collect a copy a month ago,
but they weren't there. The judge (the lady who had initially accepted
my filing) said she would hear my evidence ex parte at the next
hearing in early January. If it's compelling enough, I guess a default
judgement will be issued in my favour, and Exide will proceed to ignore
that as well.
I usually read a book while waiting for my case to be called, but
watching the proceedings can be quite entertaining. Some lawyers argue
at length for the reduction of symbolic fines, with no success. Others
come prepared to rant and rave about injustice to their clients, but
stutter and stumble when questioned about the facts of the case. One
case was attended only by two people from the same opposing party.
Every once in a while, people are reprimanded for talking in the
And while the case drags on, the UPS batteries are now completely dead,
and we have been forced to order three (slightly cheaper) 42AH batteries
to replace them.
I was #20 in a very long cause list at the District Consumer Forum this
morning. In my
previous appearance, I was asked
to file evidence ex parte because no opposing parties appeared in
court despite repeated announcements.
Digression: filing evidence
It took me a while to understand how to file evidence. I asked in the
office at the Consumer Forum, but was told only to go to Karkardooma
District Court, where "someone would help me". I went and stopped the
first lawyer I saw (black coat, white shirt), and he was kind enough to
look over my complaint and tell me exactly what I needed to do: compose
an affidavit that restates my complaint as a deposition, and have it
attested by an Oath Commissioner (and not just a Notary Public).
I found several Oath Commissioners sitting in a hallway, and one of them
pointed me to a "computer guy" who would print out my affidavit for him
to attest. I had my complaint on a USB stick, and it took only half an
hour or so (after the many lawyers ahead of me had finished their work)
to cut-and-paste the details of my complaint into a previous filing. I
paid INR100 to the computer guy (INR15/page for not-quite-7 pages), and
INR10 to the Oath Commissioner.
I then prepared three complete sets of the affidavit with all the
evidence (which were "annexures" in the original complaint, but turned
into "exhibits" at this stage).
When I was called to appear today, someone from Exide was present. As I
had suspected might happen, it turns out that Exide's counsel did appear
in court the last time, after I had already left. They filed a response
to my complaint, of which I received a copy only today.
The response begins:
The instant Complaint is a gross abuse of the process of law and has
been filed by the alleged Complainant with the sole purpose of
harassing and pressurizing the Answering Respondent to submit to its
unreasonable and mischievous demands. The instant Complaint is based on
false, frivolous and baseless facts solely to suit the illegal designs
of the alleged Complainant.
It continues on for a long time in the same vein, alleging repeatedly
that I have "unclean hands", and making "vehement" and "categorical"
denials of everything in my complaint (including a couple of facts of
I have been asked to file a rejoinder at the beginning of March.
I shall think about how to proceed.
At my last hearing, where
I filed my evidence and collected Exide's response, I was asked to file
a response on the 2nd of March. As it happened, that was a holiday, and
the court was closed. I called up the office the next morning, and was
eventually told to appear on 18th April instead.
I showed up today, and found myself #1 on the cause list. When I was
called up, a lawyer from Exide (not the guy who wrote the response, but
someone on his behalf) appeared as well. I filed my response and gave
him a copy. The next hearing is a month later. Exide will file their
evidence and give me a copy.
I wonder how many more two-minute appearances are in store.
I wrote about my Consumer Court hearing on
2011-04-18, at which I
filed my response to Exide. The next hearing was on 2011-05-19, but I
forgot to mention it here. Exide was supposed to file their evidence,
but they did not do so, and thus lost their opportunity to do so. The
next hearing was set for today, for "arguments".
I asked a lawyer friend, who said it probably meant oral arguments; so I
prepared accordingly. But, after sitting through forty-odd cases, I was
asked to submit written arguments. But someone from Exide (the affable
but largely clueless chap who has appeared before) was there, trying to
file the evidence they failed to at the last hearing. I was asked if I
had any objections, and said no. The evidence was duly accepted. Not
surprisingly, it's just a rehash of their earlier response, and says
Now I have a month to prepare a written argument.
Exide and I were to file
written arguments in today's hearing. I filed mine (which was all of two
pages long), but Exide sent someone to say that their lawyer was ill and
to ask for an extension. This request was rejected without fuss, and the
next hearing was set for oral arguments (after which only the judgement
It wouldn't surprise me if Exide tried to file arguments at the next
hearing (just as they filed their evidence late), but if so, I will
object to their tardiness and repeated failure to comply with court
Today's hearing at the district consumer forum in my complaint against
Exide was for oral
arguments. Unfortunately, only one judge out of three showed up, and no
quorum was possible while hearing arguments, so they decided to adjourn
all arguments to early November.
(Exide didn't show up to today's hearing, at least not by the time I
left. So they don't know the date of the next hearing.)
My date for oral arguments in the
case against Exide was
the 10th of November (yesterday), which was a national holiday. I called
the consumer forum to find the revised date, and they asked me to appear
Exide was represented by the same chap, with
the same story: their
lawyer was ill and could not attend. I had expected them to try to file
written arguments, but they didn't have any. Fortunately, the two judges
present were not inclined to postpone matters further. They asked me to
state my case, which I did; and they put it up for judgement.
Now I have to wait for the judgement to reach me by post.
At my last appearance
before the district consumer forum, my oral arguments were admitted
and I was told to expect a judgement by registered post (I called up a
few days later to find out how long it might take—a month or more).
Yesterday, I received the following:
With reference to your complaint, dated … you are hereby
informed/directed as under:
i) That the complaint is not maintainable before this Forum.
ii) To appear before this Forum on 27/1/12 11.00 a.m. to complete the
formalities / to reply to some querries [sic].
iii) Your complaint has been forwarded to Distt. Forum 12/12/11 for
further necessary action.
I don't understand how (ii) and (iii) can go hand-in-hand, or what
further action may be necessary, but the "not maintainable" part is
Perhaps I will be told the rationale on the 27th.
I went to the consumer forum today, expecting nothing more than the last
rites for my case, considering the
notice I received. But
when I was called up, the president of the forum listed the case for
arguments (i.e. to be handled right at the end). I mentioned the notice,
but they said that since the bench had changed, the matter would have to
be heard again. (The president was the one who was present when I first
appeared, and not the one who admitted my arguments. The other two
members were the same.)
When I was finally called up again, the Exide guy appeared once again to
say that their lawyer was unable to appear, and asked for another month.
I protested that the said lawyer had not appeared for four months, but
they scheduled oral arguments for a month later. No problem, it gives
me some time to prepare.
As I was leaving, the Exide guy ran after me and asked for my phone
Why?, I asked.
Our lawyer asked me to get it. He
wants to discuss a settlement.
Oh, does he indeed?
In my last hearing at the
consumer forum, I was asked to present oral arguments again today. The
Exide chap also asked me for my phone number so that the lawyer could
discuss a settlement. He never called.
I wondered if they'd try to spring it on me in court today, and that's
exactly what they did. Their lawyer (the same one who wrote the response
to my complaint) waited until the last possible moment to ask me what it
would take to settle, so that when my case came up for hearing, he could
say he wanted to discuss a settlement, and I would be unprepared.
I protested to the bench that it was a delaying tactic, but that made me
look unreasonable (just as he wanted, I'm sure). I eventually did agree
to another hearing in two weeks to see if we can reach a settlement.
When he asked me what I wanted, I referred him to my complaint, which he
dismissed as being
always exaggerated. I said I wanted all three
batteries replaced, plus compensation amounting to a bit less than what
I had originally asked for. I also said I was very offended by what they
had said about me in their response (
unclean hands etc.), and he
just a part of litigation.
Anyway, he went off saying he would try to
bring some harmony
between Exide and me. Meanwhile, I will prepare my oral arguments again,
based on what I learned from listening to a somewhat disorganised lawyer
presenting hers in court today. I learned a lot about what not to do,
and what the forum members look for.
Exide's lawyer, who had asked for an extra two weeks at the
today asked for another three weeks because the Exide head office
in Kolkata has not yet approved my offer for settlement.
The forum members took a dim view of this delay, and grilled him a bit,
upon which he promptly changed his story and claimed that my offer was
unreasonable, so he didn't know yet if it was possible to settle or not.
They finally agreed to give him a last chance at reaching a settlement.
Really final hearing in April.
After the court's stern admonishment to Exide at the
last hearing, I really
thought today was the day when my arguments were finally going to be
heard (since Exide has made no attempt to settle in the meantime).
But I didn't expect today's strategy. The lawyer sent his minion to say
that he was "on his way", so my case was passed over. Then I was called
again at the end, when he had still not arrived. I requested the bench
to hear my arguments, but they said it wasn't possible today (apparently
because only two judges were there, and the panel's composition would be
changing again). So they gave me a date one month later, and I
left… and two minutes later, the Exide lawyer walked in. But even though
I saw him and turned back, the two judges were already getting ready to
leave, and weren't inclined to tarry.
I had a hearing today. Nothing happened, as usual. The bench were all on
vacation, so they gave everyone a date in October for the next hearing.
adjournment at the last
hearing, I went to court this morning expecting only a new date for
the next hearing.
Exide was, once again, represented by the minion rather than the lawyer.
I asked if the lawyer would turn up at all, and was told that he was "on
the way" (as always). My case was passed over, to wait for the lawyer's
arrival. When I was called again, he still hadn't arrived. The (new)
president of the forum was not inclined to wait any further, and to
my surprise, he asked me to present my arguments.
I tried to state the case according to my notes, but the president was
obviously in a hurry, and kept asking me to skip things. But I could see
that the forum had read my case file and were familiar with the evidence
I had presented. So I skipped to my central assertion, which is that the
tests they had conducted on my batteries were misleading. The arguments
were admitted, and the president scolded the hapless minion (who was in
court only to say that the lawyer was on his way, and didn't know
anything about the case itself), and pointed out that the field
inspection reports from Exide themselves concluded that one battery was
faulty, and that it should have been replaced.
"We'll file an order in one week."
Update Exide's lawyer called me, saying that he reached late and
was told that I had agreed to the replacement of one battery. I said I
had done no such thing, and said we should wait for the order. Even if
the forum orders nothing more than to replace one battery (which would
mean I'd be stuck with one battery I couldn't use), it's fine with me.
I called the District Consumer Forum this morning to enquire about the
judgement I was told to expect in a week at my
last hearing in
October. I was told the judgement was ready, and that I should collect
it. I did so forthwith.
Here's the interesting part (the last paragraph):
The complainant of this case has been subjected to harassment, he
need[s] to be compensated. We allow this complaint and direct the
OP to replace the battery in
question within a period of 30 days with a fresh warranty of one year.
We further award a compensation of Rs.6000/- to the complainant which
will also include the cost of litigation.
The judgement was entered on 2012-11-05, and the office keeps one copy
for each party to the case for a month; if it is not collected within
that period, it is dispatched by registered post. I expect Exide will
receive its copy in the second week of December.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they grind moderately fine.
In August 2010, I filed a case at my local District Consumer Forum in
Delhi over Exide's refusal
to replace a faulty battery under warranty. In November 2012, after
nearly two and a half years of filings, hearings, and adjournments, the
Consumer Forum issued a
judgement in my favour,
asking Exide to replace the faulty battery and pay compensation.
Today, Exide sent me three new batteries and a cheque.