Issuing notices under the Consumer Protection Act


Feel cheated by a wrong product or a wrong promise? Make the best use of the Consumer Protection Act! Send a legal notice to the seller & make him understand the power of a consumer.

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Consumer Protection Act

The Consumer Protection Act passed almost thirty years ago was a legislative mechanism to offer aid and compensation to consumers exploited by the growing industrial and commercial sectors. The recent amendment goes further to protect consumers in the digital age of e-commerce. The process of disputes resolution under the Consumer Protection act can be initiated with a simple process - serving a legal notice. Under the Consumer Protection Act, legal notices have to be issued to the respondent, or the party against whom the consumer dispute has been filed.

Purpose of a legal notice under the Consumer Protection Act

A legal notice serves many important purposes. Notably, it helps put forth the complainant’s grievance to the respondent or the seller, who may then offer a suitable solution and a case may not have to be filed. However, in cases where the seller refuses to respond to the notice or fails to provide a suitable remedy or doesn’t accept his fault, his response or non-response gives a suitable ground to go ahead and file a complaint with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission or the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

Before proceeding to procedural aspects of sending a legal notice, it is imperative to understand who can file a consumer case, under what circumstances, and how to reckon the appropriate forum for filing a consumer disputes case.

Who can file a consumer disputes case?

Buyer of goods or services- A consumer under the Consumer Disputes Act, 2019 is broadly defined as a person who avails services or buys goods for consideration. Therefore, if services or products are received for free, you may not be entitled to receive compensation under the Consumer Protection Act.

E-commerce customers- The new act passed in 2019 has enlarged the definition of the consumer and also includes customers of e-commerce delivery websites, and also includes receivers of electronic services such as insurance, etc.

Damaged and Defective Goods- Consumers can approach various consumer disputes resolution fora for damaged, defective, unsafe products, and services that fall short of standards.

Unfair trade practices- Other than these regular consumer disputes, with the passing of the legal notice under consumer protection act 2019 several new offenses such as a compulsorily tied-in purchase, unfair trade practices such as non-issuance of a bill, not giving a refund or accepting returns initiated within thirty days have been included.

Malpractices- The legal notice consumer protection Act also includes an array of malpractices such as making false claims about features of the product, selling substandard goods, manufacturing spurious goods, adulteration in food products.

Misleading Advertisements- The Act also heavily punishes businesses for misleading advertisements and endorsers of such product claims have also been made liable.

Territorial limits for determining the jurisdiction of appropriate consumer dispute redressal agency

The online consumer complaint Protection Act has provided for a three-step process for consumer disputes redressal. These agencies have been established at three levels district level, state level, and national level. They have been given territorial jurisdiction - which means the ability to accept disputes arising within their geographical limits. Thus, a district forum can entertain disputes arising within its limits, the State Commission can decide cases in an appeal from all the districts, and the National Commission has jurisdiction over the entire country, including deciding appeals from the State Commission.

Pecuniary limits under the new Consumer Protection Act, 2019 for determining the jurisdiction-

The District Consumer Disputes Resolution Forum can now entertain consumer complaints online where the value of goods or services paid does not exceed ₹1 crore.

The State Consumer Disputes Resolution Commission can entertain disputes where such value exceeds ₹1 crore but does not exceed ₹10 crores.

The National Commission Disputes Resolution Commission can exercise jurisdiction where the value exceeds ₹10 crores.

Appeals and Revisions under the Consumer Protection Act

Within thirty days of passing of an order, the appeal for a case decided by District Forum lies to the State Commission. The appeal from the State Commission lies to the National Commission and from the orders of the National Commission, to the Supreme Court. The Consumer dispute redressal agencies are also clothed with the powers to revise their orders.

How to file a proper notice under the Consumer Protection Act

Ideally, since the legal notice is intended to be a communication by an aggrieved consumer of goods or services to the seller, it should lay down the grievance and the remedy sought.

Below mentioned is a Checklist that you can refer to while drafting a notice under consumer protection act -

  • The invoice number or receipt number, which evidences the actual sale from the seller. Additionally, it also helps identify the goods or services availed.
  • Clear delineation of the defects. Here, the aggrieved consumer must define the exact deficiency in service or the defect in the good. A deficiency of a defect under the law is defined as any fault, shortcoming, or imperfection.
  • Mentioning expenses incurred due to the faulty good or service, or expenses in remedying the defect
  • Choice of making good the defect: Here, the consumer must mention a suitable compensation for remedying the defect. This could be one of the following :
    • Removing the defect in the good
    • Replacing the good with new goods
    • Returning the price paid for the goods
    • Compensation for the injury, loss cause to the defective good or servic
  • In the last part of the legal notice, the consumer must highlight that in case the response to the legal notice by the seller is not appropriate, a civil, criminal, or consumer case can be filed in the appropriate forum.
  • Form of sending the notice - While the Consumer Protection Act 1986 prescribes speed post as well as registered courier services as appropriate forms of sending the notice, courts in India now also accept electronic notices such as those sent over email or WhatsApp. Physical notices can be served to the opposite party’s usual place of business or profession.

Tips for sending a notice under the Consumer Protection Act

Since the legal notice is the first step in the process of initiating a dispute, it also becomes an important document evidencing claims as the case progresses. Hence, it’s a good idea to keep the following procedural details in mind while sending the notice.

  • Keep the original invoice, with all its attachments, including the invoice numbers, warranty cards, guarantees, advertisement copy, etc, very safely.
  • Mention the mode of payment - and keep the proof of payment. Ideally, electronic transactions are advisable as they help in clearly proving receipt of payment by the seller. Keep a screenshot or printed cheque book leaf page evidencing the payment.
  • If the service provider or manufacturer or seller has a website for handling consumer grievances, make an online complaint and keep the reference number, email, and the response received.
  • If any amount has been spent on repairing the damaged, defective good - proof of such repair, pictures of the defect, etc will also become necessary during the case.
  • While there is no compulsion to use a registered or speed post, these are preferable, as they help prove receipt of the notice.
  • If the notice is being delivered personally, an acknowledgment of receipt must be obtained from the seller or his affiliates.
  • The limitation period under the Consumer Protection Act is two years from the date on which cause of action (or the defect in the product) arose. Hence, an aggrieved consumer must not inordinately delay the process of approaching consumer disputes redressal agencies.

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