Furniture firm told to refund advance, legal cost for not delivering product as promised

February 08, 2024 09:56 pm | Updated 09:57 pm IST - KOCHI

The Ernakulam District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed the setting up of special counters at trade fairs and exhibitions for addressing complaints by consumers.

The Commission comprising D.B. Binu, president, and members, including V. Ramachandran and Sreevidhia T.N., gave the direction while disposing of a petition in favour of petitioner Jolly P.F. of Varapuzha against Badriya Executive Furniture, Kottakkal, Malappuram, for not delivering furniture despite taking an advance. The firm was ordered by the Commission to refund the advance of ₹500 and another ₹5,000 towards legal cost.

The complainant had placed an order for a wardrobe worth ₹16,500 with the opposite party at an exhibition at the Kaloor International Stadium on September 21, 2018. Despite taking an advance of ₹500, the opposite party failed to deliver the furniture, according to the petitioner.

Despite numerous phone calls and assurances from the opposite party that the work was complete and delivery imminent, the furniture was not delivered, constituting a clear violation of the promise.

In February 2020, during an exhibition at Kaloor, the complainant revisited the opposite party’s stall, showed the old order form, and proposed obtaining a chair in place of the wardrobe. The opposite party agreed, with the condition that an amount of ₹3,250 be paid, deducting the advance payment of ₹500. An assurance was given that the chair would be delivered to the complainant’s home within two days, but to date, the chair has not been received.

The opposite party’s conscious failure to file their written version in spite of having received the Commission’s notice to that effect amounts to an admission of allegations levelled against them, the Commission observed.

“Often, the organisers of exhibitions, trade fairs, and festivals fail to maintain an efficient customer grievance redressal system when customers face issues with products or services purchased at these events. Resolution is typically possible if they revisit the exhibition or fair with paid entry pass. This approach undermines the consumer’s right to effective complaint resolution. To rectify this, it is recommended that organisers set up dedicated counters at these events, specifically for addressing grievances. Moreover, for those who regularly host such events, establishing a year-round online system for grievance redressal is advisable. This system should involve relevant vendors and traders to ensure effective resolution of complaints. Implementing such measures will not only enhance the credibility and goodwill of the organising bodies but also uphold consumer rights,” the Commission observed.

The Commission determined that the opposite party did not experience any financial losses due to the complainant’s order and was, therefore, legally obligated to refund the advance amount to the complainant.

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