The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has confirmed a lower forum's order, which held that delay in repairing a washing machine after collecting annual maintenance charges (AMC) from consumer amounted to deficiency in service.

When the AMC is in force, it is the duty of the manufacturer to rectify the defect at the earliest, a Commission Bench of president Justice M. Thanikachalam and members J. Jayaraman and Vasugi Ramanan stated in its order while dismissing an appeal.

K. Gouthaman of Kotturpuram here purchased a Whirlpool Europe front loading washing machine in July 2000. He paid the AMC and renewed it every year by paying Rs.3,457.

In June 2007, the machine stopped working. A mechanic informed him that the front panel was rusted and needed to be replaced. Later, there was no response.

He filed a complaint before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Chennai (South). The Manager, Whirlpool of India, Nandanam, was cited as the opposite party.

The company said that the panel had become defective as the appliance was kept in a water-logged area. The machine was purchased in 2000 and spare parts were in short supply. There was no deficiency in service.

The forum said that a delay of 19 days in repairing the machine amounted to deficiency in service.

It directed the opposite party to pay the complainant Rs.7,500 as compensation and Rs.2,500 as costs. The company went in appeal.

The Bench said that when AMC was in force, it was the opposite party's duty to rectify the defect at the earliest. Instead, the company asked for additional cost to supply a new machine after taking back the old one. The proposal did not seem to be reasonable.

After collecting the AMC, the opposite party's delay in rectifying the machine and offering a new proposal that was not acceptable to the complainant certainly amounted to negligence and deficiency in service.