Off we go to Consumer court

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <ams@toroid.org>

2010-08-10

After our unpleasant experience 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 next afternoon.

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.