Can a complaint about consumer issues be filed online? If yes, what is the process?

This article is written by Aashika Aggarwal pursuing BBA LLB (H) from Amity University, Gurgaon.

INTRODUCTION

The consumer protection bill, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 8 July 2019 by the Minister of Consumer Affairs and food and public distribution. The consumer protection act has made it mandatory for every e-commerce entity to display the country of origin.  It was introduced by Ram Vilas Palawan. 

First of all, the consumer is a person or a group of people, such as a household, who are the final users of products and services.  A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order or uses purchased goods, or services primarily for personal, social, family, household and similar needs, not directly related to entrepreneurial or business activities. A consumer is one that buys goods for consumption and not for resale or commercial purposes. The consumer is an individual who pays some amount of money for the thing required to consume goods and services. Without consumer demand, producers would lack one of the key motivations to produce to sell to customers. The consumer also forms part of the chain of distribution.

Rights of Consumer

There are some consumer rights and they are as follows under:-

THE RIGHT TO SAFETY: this right says that to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to life and health.

THE RIGHT TO BE INFORMED: this right says that to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful, or grossly misleading information, advertising, labelling, or other practices, and to be given the facts he needs to make an informed choice.

THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE: this right says that to be assured wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices, and in those industries in which competition is not workable and government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and services at fair prices.

THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD: this right says that to be assured that consumer interests will receive full and sympathetic consideration in the formulation of government policy, and fair and expeditious treatment in its administrative tribunals. 

Can Consumer file an Online Complaint

One can file an online complaint about any consumer issues. 

If you purchase any product and that product has some defect and after talking to the dealer from whom you had taken that product and that person is doing fraud with you, in case that person is not listening to anything, then the consumer can go the consumer forum and can file a complaint against that dealer and for that product as well.

For doing an online complaint in the consumer forum, we need to first open the main site of consumer helpline that is WWW.CONSUMERHELPLINE.GOV.IN (national consumer helpline) (NCH). This is the official website of the consumer forum and anybody can file their complaint over there. This site has a toll-free number which says 1800114000 or 14404. This website has a symbol of JAAGO GRAHAK JAAGO and it is opened every day except the national holidays. The timings for this toll-free number is 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

For doing the complaint online, there are some terms and conditions which are as follows:  If any consumer is taking any product or services for 1 lakh Rs and after taking it you have also given them the money and after taking the products or services, if the company has done any kind of fraud with the consumer then the consumer has to pay Rs 100 to file their complaint on the official website of the consumer forum. If the products or services are of more than 1 lakh Rs and less than 5 lakh Rs, then the consumer has to pay Rs 200 to file their complaint on the official website. If the consumer is taking products or services of more than 5 lakh Rs, then the consumer has to pay 400 Rs to file their complaint on the official website of the consumer forum. This goes increases and increases with an increase in money. 

Ways to File Online Complaint

There are mainly four ways to file the complaint online as well as offline. These ways are as follows under:-

1. The place where the consumer is residing and the consumer can go to nearby consumer court physically and then file the complaint against the company or the dealer.

2. The second thing is that the consumer can call directly to the toll-free number given on the website and then tell them all problems and the fraud done by the other person.

3. On the website there is a number provided for SMS and the consumer can file their complaint through SMS as well and the number will be 8130009809. After sending SMS to this number, the helpline will call you back and then anybody can tell their problem.

For registering the complaint online, one has to sign up on the website given and they will send you one OTP on the given mobile number.  Then, the consumer needs to fill all the details of their problem by logging in into the website and there they need to write every single detail with timings of fraud. Once submitted, complaints are assigned an electronically generated number. This can be used to track the status of the complaint until it gets resolved.

If any consumer wins the case filed through the consumer forum, then the consumer gets great compensation from the other company.  A complaint can be filed against any registered brand or service provider. The online complaint system has a dropdown menu of sectors, segments, and brands which includes all brands registered with the department of consumer affairs. Multiple complaints can be filed using the same login credentials and can be tracked online. The messages sent to the brand and consumer are also available for viewing to track progress. The complaints can be filed both in English and Hindi.

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