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ISSUE: May, 2019
The monthly e-Newsletter of the National Consumer Helpline

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  • EDITORIAL TEAM:
  • Editor in Chief:
    • Prof. Suresh Misra

    Consulting Editor:
    • Mr. G. N. Sreekumaran

    Editorial Team:
    • Ms. Deepika Sur
    • Ms. Sunita Manik

    Sector Experts:
    • Mr. Jagat Narayan Prajapati (Legal Metrology)
    • Dr. Mamta Prajapati (Food)
    • Dr. Om Parkash Arora (Insurance)
    • Mr. Prabhat Kumar (Financial)
    • Ms. Sonam Dhawan (Legal)

    Designing & Development:
    • Mr. Shobhit Sharma

CONSUMER VELOCITY @ NCH

The National Consumer Helpline (NCH) is the grievance resolution mechanism of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Govt. of India and operates from the Indian Institute of Public Administration New Delhi .The web portal www.consumerhelpline.gov.in is the platform to record and handle grievance received at NCH. either through phone, directly on the website, NCH App, letters by post etc. The web chat facility is also available for consumers to get answers to any query that they may have.

NCH assists in the following ways:

Information & guidance: NCH counsels, guides and supports aggrieved consumers to get their grievances resolved.

Alternate Dispute Redressal System (ADR): The alternate dispute redressal system has 526 companies as convergence partners. Convergence companies are across the spectrum of sectors like Banking, e-commerce, telecom, consumer electronics, higher education etc.

Big Data Analytics: Analysis of data helps in knowing trends - sector wise, time wise and the different patterns that emerge from analyzing and stratification of the data collated.

Advocacy: Based on the analysis done, specific type of grievance affecting a large number of consumers is highlighted to the organizations. Also, advocacies are brought out to sensitize Regulators and Departments on various pain points of consumers.

SNAPSHOT

DOCKETS REGISTERED
  • In the month of May 2019, National Consumer Helpline registered 61,893 dockets on the portal - www.consumerhelpline.gov.in. Out of the 61,893 dockets, 37,333 dockets were handled at Toll free number, 2716 calls were made to SMS received, and 14,890 dockets were registered directly on the Website. 4967 grievances were reported through “NCH App”. On the web chat facility, 5250 user’s queries were handled. 1454 grievance dockets have been registered on the UMANG App till the end of the month.
STATE-WISE DOCKETS REGISTERED:

The numbers of dockets registered from states are arranged in descending order the top 15 state are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan ,Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

S. No. State No of Dockets %
1 Uttar Pradesh 9118 14.73
2 Maharashtra 8346 13.48
3 Delhi 7185 11.61
4 West Bengal 4069 6.57
5 Karnataka 3935 6.36
6 Rajasthan 3748 6.06
7 Gujarat 3547 5.73
8 Haryana 3274 5.29
9 Madhya Pradesh 2937 4.75
10 Bihar 2728 4.41
11 Bihar 2178 3.90
12 Tamil Nadu 1749 2.83
13 Punjab 1638 2.65
14 Andhra Pradesh 1073 1.73
15 Odisha 1013 1.64
16 Other States 5118 8.26
Grand Total 61893 100
Pie Chart
SECTOR-WISE:

Majority of the grievances are received from sectors of E-commerce, Banking, Telecom ,DTH & Cable, and Consumer Electronic Products.

India Map

The Website www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in registered a hit count of 3,64,929 during the month of May 2019

CONVERGENCE PARTNERSHIP:

Besides consumer awareness, NCH also works towards 'making Companies responsible’ in resolving consumer grievances at the pre-litigation level itself, by the Alternate Dispute Redressal Mechanism. Currently 526 companies/ organizations are listed under the ‘convergence’ programme. All organisation have partnered with NCH voluntarily.

A wide spectrum of companies in sectors ranging from consumer electronics and durables to services such as Banking, Insurance, Electricity, Telecom sectors such as Automobiles, Courier, Tours & Travels are all ‘convergence’ partners of NCH. Grievances received are accessed by the nodal person of the company who up loadings the redressal responses. 24,842 grievances were registered for convergence companies.

Centralized Public Grievance Redress And Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) Website : www.pgportal.gov.in

NCH tries to resolve grievances forwarded by the Department of Consumer Affairs received on www.pgportal.gov.in. This is a Govt. of India Public grievance portal administered by DARPG for citizens to voice their grievances. In May 2019, NCH received 619 grievances.

Jagriti – NCH Visit to School of Excellence, Khichripur, Delhi

NCH was invited by the School of Excellence, Khichripur, Delhi , for an orientation programme of their new students on 9th May, 2019, primarily to empower their students on Consumer Awareness

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Approximately 120 Students of classes 9th, 10th and 12th along with a few parents attended the NCH session, which was held from 9.30 am to 11.30 am. Ms Deepika Sur (Project Manager, NCH) and Ms Rajneet Kaur (Sr. Counselor, NCH) explained the Consumer Protection Act, which embodies the rights of a Consumer. An insightful details for the sectors of Legal Metrology ( weights & Measures ) , Food Safety, E-commerce & Digital transactions and the LPG and piped natural gas was also taken up. In addition, the working of National Consumer helpline and its role in grievance redressal was also explained.

NCH choose the above topics for these ‘Young Consumers’ as they should be made aware of labeling rules, e-commerce. Maximum Retail Price, digital payments and related information. The open discussion allowed NCH to address the questions and queries of the students parents and teachers.

At the end of the programme, the Principal of the school interacted with the students and asked them to list the things that they had learnt. She also told them that the information and knowledge which they imbibed in the session, should be shared with their relatives & friends - like- how to check expiry of gas cylinder, mandatory labels on food and pre-packaged products, precautions while doing e-commerce and online transactions. The event ended with the launch of their magazine of the consumer club of the school.

Empowering young students to be ‘Responsible and empowered consumers’ goes a long way towards being a smart consumer in todays world.

EVENT GALLERY

NCH welcomed many visitors in the month. The visits were essentially to understand the operations, and get a first hand idea of the way consumer grievances are redressed.

1. Participants of CGS Officers of the Niti Aayog, who were at IIPA for a training programme, took keen interest in the way calls are handled, dockets registered and redress and resolution provided.

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2. The official handling Public Grievances from the Northern Railway visited NCH, and helped the NCH staff to understand as to how grievances are handled at Northern Railway. NCH was also given inputs on the categorization of the different types of grievances at their end.

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3. Officials from SBI Credit cards and Payment Services Private Limited, Gurgaon, explained the procedure of grievance handling by them and also some information on the tools of digital transactions, like POS machines etc. Similarly, the officials from HPCL ( Retail) division, explained their grievance resolution procedure. They also discussed on some aspects of Legal Metrology.

SBI Officials

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HPCL (Retail) Division

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4. Senior executives of State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, all of which are Convergence Partners of NCH, saw the way grievances are handled and redressed. They also explained the NCH staff on grievance redressal procedure at their individual Banks.

State Bank of India

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Punjab National Bank

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Kotak Mahindra Bank

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CONSUMER KALEIDOSCOPE - Recent announcements in Consumer’s Interest

SECTOR: FOOD
Differentiate between “Use By Date” and Best Before Date”

Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling Regulations), 2011 have clearly defined the terms “Use By” and Best Before Date”. Every packaged food product has a defined shelf life which allows the end user to use it within the stipulated period. Foods having a small shelf life of seven days come under perishable foods and the shelf life of such products are specified by the technical term “Use by Date”. It signifies the end of the estimated period under any stated storage conditions, after which the food probably will not have the quality and safety attributes normally expected by the consumers and the food shall not be sold. The date is stamped on the poly pack carrying the product throughout the width of the packaged commodity eg. Milk, Lassi, Butter milk, Bread etc. The stamped date signifies the expected consumption of food till “Use by Date”. Labelling rules do not require manufacturing date for products with such a short period of shelf life.

Food products with a shelf life more than seven days are mostly labeled with “Best Before Date”. It signifies the end of period under any stated storage conditions during which the food remains fully marketable and shall retain any specific qualities for which the claim have been made. Beyond the “Best before date” the food may still be perfectly safe to consume, though its quality may have diminished. However, the food shall not be sold if at any stage the product becomes unsafe. The food products having “Best Before Date” are labeled with mandatory manufacturing date which was absent in above case of perishable products.

Mandatory labeling features for packaged food products are :

  • Common name of the Product.
  • Name and address of the product’s Manufacturer
  • Date of Manufacture (NOT REQUIRED IN CASE OF PERISHABLE ITEM)
  • Ingredient List with additives
  • Nutrition Facts
  • i) Use by date (REQUIRED IN CASE OF PERISHABLE ITEM) ii) Best before (PRESENT IN CASE OF SHELF LIFE MORE THAN SEVEN DAYS)
  • Net contents in terms of weight, measure or count.
  • Packing codes/Batch number/Lot number
  • Declaration regarding vegetarian or non-vegetarian

In case a consumer has grievance he may contact the Nodal Officer / Customer care of the company or At the second level ,he may contact the Commissioner of Food Safety of the State / Union Territory or lodge their grievance on Central Food Authority FSSA

SECTOR: INSURANCE
Tips to follow before buy term insurance

A large proportion of people in India are uninsured. Even, highly educated class employed in the organized sector does not have adequate coverage as most of them are covered under group term cover of around one time salary provided by their employers. Term insurance is a must have for all who have dependent family members or liabilities to pay off. This is the most basic and cheapest form of pure protection life insurance to protect the life style of dependent family members in the unfortunate event of demise of the breadwinner of family.

Following points may help to choose cover wisely:

  • The rule of thumb is to take a cover of around 10 time’s annual salary plus any outstanding loans. This level of sum assured will help repay the outstanding loan and maintain lifestyle of the family members.
  • Most insurance companies offer additional optional riders along with term product. It is better to enhance coverage by taking accidental death benefit, waiver of premium benefit and critical illness rider to make your policy more comprehensive. Critical illness coverage provides living benefits and protects against the risk of living with disabilities post covered dreaded diseases.
  • Usually proposers look at claim settlement ratio of the insurance company before taking a policy. But it is observed that almost all insurance companies would like to settle all genuine insurance claims. The claims which usually get rejected are fraudulent or result of non-disclosure of material facts about the health or income at inception of the policy. Therefore, just looking at the claims settlement ratio may be misleading. It may be worth looking at the corporate governance records, violation of regulatory norms and solvency ratios also of the insurance company.
  • It may not make a significant difference, whether you buy online or thought distributor. If you are internet savvy and comfortable with transacting online, you may get some discount while buying online. However, while buying from distributor, you will get the comfort of face to face discussion and opportunity to raise your concerns with distributor. Choice between online and offline is more of personal choice and a matter of comfort with online transactions.
SECTOR: BANKING
Importance of Nomination In Postal Life Insurance

It is extremely important that in Postal Life Insurance {PLI} policy have a nominee. It is observed that, at times unfortunate delay in settlement of death claim occurs just because the nomination was not made. As a responsible PLI Buyer {Insurant}, you must surely nominate someone, preferably a near and dear one from your family, if not already done.

Secondly, please check up whether your nominee’s name is appearing correctly in the policy schedule.

It is important that the Nomination can be done/changed at any point of time. However, if you {Insurant} assign your Policy [say, to a bank, to get loan], the nomination gets automatically cancelled. On reassignment, ownership of the Policy comes back to you, but the old nomination does not automatically get revived. You {Insurant} have to, in such cases, nominate afresh.

The insurant is advised to nominate the person to whom the claim amount shall be payable in the event of his/her ie insurant’s death.

In the case of minor nominee, name and concern of the appointee (guardian) who may receive the said amount on behalf of the minor must be given. In the event of nominee pre-deceased insurant, change in nomination must be registered with the CPC through your post office.

For details, the reader or the Insurant is advised to refer “the Customer Guide” available on the link http://www.postallifeinsurance.gov.in/innerpage/customer-guide.php

SECTOR: LEGAL

Recent Developments in Real Estate and Medical Services

The National Consumer Disputes Resolution Commission has recently given two very important pro – consumer judgments in the field of real estate and medical negligence.

Real Estate:

In the real estate sector (Shalab Nigam vs. Orris Infrastructure, May 2019) the national commission held that the allottees have right to ask for refund if the possession of a house is inordinately delayed; particularly beyond one year. In this case there was a delay of two years in granting possession. The allotee pleaded inter alia for either a time-bound completion of the flat or a refund of the entire amount deposited with interest.

The commission ordered that the project should be completed and the possession should be given by September 2019. Further, if the builder fails then the amount deposited by the allotee should be refunded with interest.

Many courts and commissions have time and again ordered for refund on the ground of delay. But in this judgment a one year time limit has been laid down after which the allotee has a right to refund.

Medical Negligence:

In another judgment the national commission has held that a doctor is liable for the acts of his team which was assisting in the treatment. (Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Research and Treatment foundation vs. Prashant Sareen, May 2019). In this case a 3 year old was undergoing treatment for cancer. A medicine used for treatment called 'Vincristine' had to be administered intravenously. However, this medicine was given through backbone (intrathecally).

The patient died within 2 weeks. The court held that even though the injection was not administered by the head doctor yet he was liable. It was reiterated that a doctor is vicariously liable for the acts of his team assisting in treatment.

It was observed that the protocol was written by the doctor and his duty does not end by giving the prescription.

National Consumer Helpline
Centre for Consumer Studies , Indian Institute of Public Administration
Toll Free : 14404 , 1800-11-4000 (All days -09.30 AM to 05.30 PM )
SMS to +918130009809 (charges apply) mentioning the name and city .
Website: www.consumerhelpline.gov.in
You can also register your grievance through mobile application 'UMANG' and 'NCH App'