What is a Consumer Complaint?

The Definition of a consumer complaint is, “A consumer complaint or customer complaint is "an expression of dissatisfaction on a consumer's behalf to a responsible party" (Landon, 1980). It can also be described in a positive sense as a report from a consumer providing documentation about a problem with a product or service.”

In simple terms, a consumer complaint is a written protest against a person or a company for offering poor goods and services. For example, if a person buys a product and it turns out to be faulty, he or she can file a consumer complaint with the Consumer Complaints Redressal Council.

Who can file a Consumer Complaint in India?

According to the Consumer Protection Act, the following people can file a consumer complaint:-

  • A consumer
  • Any registered volunteered organization
  • A group of consumers having common interest
  • Legal heirs of a deceased consumer
  • Relatives of a consumer
  • The Central or State Government

The thing you need to keep in mind with consumer complaints is that a complaint should be lodged within 2 years of the cause of action.

Procedure for Filing a Consumer Complaint

Send a Written Notice

The first step is to send a notice or complaint explaining the problem and why you are unhappy with a product or service to the concerned party.

While filling the form, make sure you mention all the true facts. Avoid using fowl or threatening language in your letter. Make sure that you mention in your letter that if the problem is not solved, you will take up the issue with consumer forum. Give the opposite party at least 15 days to reply to your notice.

Wait for the Company to Respond

Once you file a complaint, it is likely that the company will respond seriously to your issue. Some might offer you a fair compensation. At this stage, you must know what is a good compensation for the bad service or product. Demanding too much of a compensation will get you nowhere.

If there is no response within the stipulated time, you have every right to approach the consumer forum.

Approach the Consumer Forum

There are three levels of consumer forums:

  • District Level
  • State Level
  • National Level

If the amount involved in your complaint is below Rs.20 lakhs, you need to file a complaint in the District Level forum. You need to file the complaint at the district forum that has jurisdiction over the case.

During hearings, you have the options of appearing before the District forum yourself or have lawyers represent you. The time taken for the procedure ranges between six to eighteen months.

Application fees for filing a consumer complaint start from Rs.100 and go upwards to Rs.5,000 depending on the seriousness of the case and compensation involved.

Give a Written Complaint

Your complaint to the district forum should be written in a prescribed format. It should be supported with all relevant documents and state the compensation amount clearly. Along with your complaint letter, you will need to sign an affidavit stating that all the details and claims in your letter are true.

You need to file at least 5 copies of the complaint with the forum and additionally send 5 more copies to the opposite party, against whom you have made the complaint. Make sure that you file your complaint within two years of the incident. If your complaint is more than two years old, the forum will not accept your complaint.

FAQs on Consumer Compliants

It is not necessary to hire lawyers. But, you would want to hire one in cases where you are fighting a big case or the complaint is a serious one. Consumer lawyers know how to file complaints in the court, so they can help you put together a tight case against an offender.
It generally takes between six to eighteen months to complete a consumer complaint case. In matters that are contentious, it could take a big longer.

Sometimes, an out of court settlement is also possible, in which case, the matter will be shut within a short period of time.
While it is only right for you to receive a good amount, you have to be careful about asking for too much compensation. If you get too excited and ask for more, it could land you in trouble and your case can run into serious trouble. Always consult with consumer-affairs lawyers when penning down a compensation.
Yes, you can, consumer complaints are not only related to products, but include services as well. Just like with the normal procedure, you need to file a complaint with the Consumer Forum if you are not satisfied with a response from the offender.
No, you need to first give a notice to the concerned party and then wait for a period of 15 days before filing a complaint with the Consumer Forum.

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