Brands should learn to appreciate customers and their legitimate grievances

Sachika was thrilled on purchasing a new mobile phone, a hi-tech model that cost Rs. 15,000. She bought the phone from a reputed dealer, and got a purchase invoice and warranty card too.

However, her excitement took a nosedive, when, within a week of purchase, the phone developed problems. The battery drained very fast, the keys worked intermittently and there was a frequent “memory full” message in spite of the memory being empty.

An agitated Sachika took the phone to the dealer, who refused to even examine the handset. He advised her to approach the authorised service centre of the phone company.

Left with little option, Sachika went to the service centre, and was given a job sheet telling her that it would be repaired in seven days. But, this did not happen, and after repeated follow-ups, she was asked to collect it after 20 days. She was told that the battery had been changed and new software uploaded, so the problems would not recur.

Relieved that her ordeal was over, Sachika returned a happy woman. But, her joy was short-lived, as the phone developed problems within a day. She was back at the service centre. But, the problem persisted, and Sachika sensed that there was a manufacturing defect and asked for a replacement.

Mounting frustration

But, the service centre refused to give her one . Sachika asked for the contact details of the higher-ups in the company. However, no names or phone numbers were given. A frustrated Sachika was finally connected to the senior manager, who, after much hesitation, agreed for a replacement. She was asked to leave her handset with the centre and a replacement was promised in a week’s time.

If you thought her misery ended here, you are mistaken. When she went to the service centre to collect her new phone, she was given an old refurbished instrument.

When she questioned them, she was told that this was the replacement offered by the company and that she could either take it or leave it. Her continuous requests went unheeded, and she finally filed a complaint in the Consumer Forum.

There are similar instances where the Consumer Fora has ordered the replacement of the flawed phone with a new one of the same model or refund the cost of the handset along with compensation and costs.

The Forum has observed that when an instrument has been repeatedly faulty, the company should appreciate the genuineness of the complaint and resolve the issue to the customers’ satisfaction.

Unfair trade practice

The Forum went on to say that the company’s refusal to do so would amount to unfair trade practice, and that the complainants were justified in losing confidence in the product, as, after spending a huge sum to buy the handset, they were saddled with a defective piece.

When people believe in a particular branded product and invest their hard-earned money to purchase it, it is an ignominy that the so-called multi-national companies do not value their customers and their legitimate grievances.

S. SAROJA

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details / queries contact 24914358 / 24460387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in)

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