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ISSUE: July, 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 (Banking)
    • 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 queries that they may have.

NCH assist 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 546 companies and organisations 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 scale 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 issues faced by consumers.

SNAPSHOT

DOCKETS REGISTERED
  • In the month of July 2019, National Consumer Helpline registered 69,420 dockets on the portal - www.consumerhelpline.gov.in. Out of the 69,420 dockets, 44,327(63.8%) dockets were handled at Toll free number, 2,524 (3.6%) calls were made to SMS received, and 15,168(21.8%) dockets were registered directly on the Website. 5267(7.5%) grievances were reported through NCH App. On the web chat facility, 7344 user’s queries were handled. 1,642(2.3%) 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 different states in descending order shows that the top 15 states are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

S. No. State No of Dockets %
1 Uttar Pradesh 9939 14.32
2 Maharashtra 8922 12.85
3 Delhi 7441 10.72
4 West Bengal 4472 6.44
5 Rajasthan 4472 6.44
6 Karnataka 4244 6.11
7 Haryana 4018 5.79
8 Gujarat 3795 5.47
9 Bihar 3516 5.07
10 Madhya Pradesh 3338 4.81
11 Telangana 2830 4.08
12 Punjab 1927 2.78
13 Tamil Nadu 1874 2.70
14 Andhra Pradesh 1341 1.93
15 Odisha 1099 1.58
16 Other States 5834 8.40
Grand Total 69420 100
Pie Chart
SECTOR-WISE:

Majority of the grievances are received from the sectors of e-commerce, Banking, Telecom, Consumer Durables, Electronic products and Electricity. The top 15 sectors for which grievances are received is given below:

India Map

The National Consumer Helpline website www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in registered a hit count of 3,28,379 during the month of July 2019, this has been steadily growing every month.

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 (ADR). Currently 546 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, Courier, Tours & Travels are all ‘convergence’ partners of NCH. Grievances received are accessed by the nodal person of the company. 26,949 grievances were registered for convergence companies in the month.

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

NCH makes efforts to resolve the 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 July 2019, NCH received 621 grievances.

EVENT GALLERY:There were many visitors to NCH in the month of June 2019

1. Participants of the 16th Training of Trainers programme for Heads and Members of VCOs / NGOs in Consumer Protection & Welfare visited the National Consumer Helpline on 11th July 2019 to understand the role it plays in resolving consumer grievance

Photo Gallery 1
Photo Gallery 2

2. SCHOOL VISIT
29 students of Class 12th along with 2 teachers from Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya School visited the National Consumer Helpline on 29th July 2019 and heard live call’s from consumers. They were also taken through a presentation on consumer rights and how to be an aware consumer.

Photo Gallery 3
Photo Gallery 4

CONSUMER KALEIDOSCOPE - Recent announcements in Consumer’s Interest

SECTOR: FOOD
STAPLE PINS – PHYSICAL HAZARD IN FOOD PRODUCTS

The use of staple pins in packing food items has increased steadily especially in the unorganized sector. This is a serious form of physical hazard. A food safety hazard is a condition that could potentially cause an adverse human health effect. Physical hazard as defined is visible to the eyes and inadvertently make their way into the food item making it unsafe for consumption. A letter was issued on 27 June, 2019 by FSSAI to discourage the use of staple pins on food packets made of plastic and paper bags in the unorganized sector. Thermal sealing of plastic packages and use of cello-adhesive tapes are permissible by the apex food authority as per food safety norms.

The manufacturing, distribution, sale, storage and importing of stapled tea bags were ordered to be discontinued under Section (15) FSS Act, 2006, by the Food Authority, starting January 2018. The existing technology of stapled tea bags was widely prevalent in the country and the tea bag manufacturers required more time to shift from existing technology towards new technology of either knotted tea bags or machine pressed tea bags so, an extended time period of was given up till 30th June, 2019.

After this date, the packing of tea bags by stapling has been completely banned. The use of stapler pins in tea bags poses potential hazard to consumers since any loose staple pin consumed mistakenly with tea may cause a serious threat. The ban was imposed taking account of risk to public safety. Instead of stapler pins, the companies now have switched over to knotted tea bags or heat sealable tea bags.

Stapler pins are made of galvanised iron. Galvanised iron is iron with zinc coating which prevents the iron from corroding. This iron, if swallowed, cannot be digested and can lead to gum bleeding, internal bleeding in the stomach and damage in the food pipe. Any type of metallic pins used in food packages are a physical hazard and pose a risk to consumer’s health.

The advisory issued by FSSAI especially aims at creating awareness amongst the consumers. So that, consumer buying processed or unprocessed food articles should check it the packet has been closed securely without the use of staple pins.

Grievances related to use of stapler pins in packaged food items may be made to:

Tier I: Nodal Officer / Customer care of the company
Tier II: Commissioner of Food Safety of the State / Union Territory
Tier III: Central Food Authority, FSSAI

Alternatively, you may lodge your grievances on https://foodlicensing.fssai.gov.in/cmsweb/

PFod June 2019

Source:

Letter dated 27th June 2019 related to Discourage the use of staple pins on food products [Updated on:01-07-2019] [0.19 MB]

https://archive.fssai.gov.in/dam/jcr.../Letter_Staple_Pins_Tea_Bags_15_11_2017.pdf

SECTOR: LEGAL
1. AMRAPALI GROUP : STRINGENT ACTION BY SUPREME COURT

The recent judgment of hon’ble Supreme Court (Bikram Chaterji vs. Union of India decided on 23 rd July 2019) has cancelled the RERA registration of Amrapali group. Further it has directed the NBCC (National Building Construction Corporation) to construct various projects of the group and hand over the possession to the buyers. The court observed that NOIDA and Greater NOIDA authorities who had given property for lease had not been diligent in realizing their dues. It also observed that banks have been in collusion with the group as the funds were diverted right under their nose.

The highlights of the judgment are as follows:

a) The registration of Amrapali group of companies under RERA shall stand cancelled.

b) The various lease deeds granted in favour of Amrapali Group of Companies by Noida and Greater Noida Authorities for projects in question stand cancelled and rights to vest in Court Receiver.

c) The Noida and Greater Noida Authorities shall have no right to sell the flats of the home buyers or the land leased out for the realization of their dues. Their dues shall have to be recovered from the sale of other properties which have been attached. The same direction was given for the recovery of the dues of the various Banks also.

d) NBCC to complete the various projects and hand over the possession to the buyers.

e) The home buyers are directed to deposit the outstanding amount under the Agreement entered with the promoters within 3 months from the date of judgement in the Bank account. The amount deposited by them shall be invested in the fixed deposit to be disbursed under the order of the Court on phase-wise completion of the projects/work by the NBCC.

2. BANK RESPONSIBLE FOR LOSS OF CHEQUE : NCDRC

In a recent judgment of National commission (Manager Bank of Baroda vs. Chitrodiya Babuji Divanji decided on 19 th July 2019) the court has given relief to the banking consumer. It has held that in case of loss of cheque by a bank, the bank is bound to compensate the consumer. In this case the respondent/ complainant filed a case for loss of cheque of ₹3,60,000. The complainant contended that he had deposited the cheque with the petitioner bank. The cheque was dishonoured. The bank then sent the dishonoured cheque to the complainant’s address from where it was returned. The cheque was eventually lost by the bank. The complainant did not receive the bounced cheque nor did he get the cheque amount of ₹3,60,000/-.

The court held “The Petitioner (Bank) failed to return the cheque to the Respondent (Complainant) and the Respondent (Complainant) was deprived of his legal right to file a case under section 138 of Negotiable Instrument Act against the account holder. Thus, the Respondent (Complainant) had to suffer a loss of ₹3,60,000. When the cheque in question had been lost by the Petitioner Bank, it is the responsibility of the Bank to compensate the loss.”

SECTOR: INSURANCE
Consumer can track status of his Insurance Claim with effect from July 1, 2019

If you have ever reported an Insurance Claim with any Insurance Company and have found it tedious to track status of your claim, now, with effect from July 1, 2019, you can expect a smoother claim settlement process.

Keeping in view the fact that clear and transparent communications play a vital role in servicing of insurance policies, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has directed all insurers (both life and General Insurers) to ensure compliance of following instructions with effect from July 1, 2019.

A. All insurers shall send all communications relating to issuance and servicing of insurance policies such as proposal registration either in the form of a letter, e-mail, SMS etc.

B. For the purpose of enhancing insurance awareness, the insurers shall send necessary caution messages such as not falling prey to spurious calls etc.

C. To ensure fair and transparent claim settlement procedures, immediately upon the intimation of the claim, a unique claims reference number shall be created and notified to the registered mobile number of the claimant.
Subsequently, at every stage of the claim processing such as arranging for survey, requirement of documents, communication of the final decision i.e admission or rejection of claim and payment details, if any, timely notifications shall be sent to the policyholder or claimant by the insurer.

D. Unique claim reference number sent by the insurers shall also enable tracking the claims status by the claimants themselves through the portal or website or Apps of the insurance company.

The IRDA has also directed to use simple language that is easy to read and understand. Wherever feasible, the communications may be in regional or local language.

Hence, the insurers have been advised to put in place procedures for collecting the mobile numbers and the email ids of the policyholders.

Major impact of these directions will be in the area of claim settlement process, because currently policy holders do not get any information about processing of their claim, until the final decision is taken. Since the claim documents move through various stages, customers can ascertain what is happening and status of their claims.

For more details- you can refer to IRDAI circular no. CAD/CIR/PPHI/059/04/2019 Dated 10.04.2019.

What is principle of utmost good faith in insurance

Utmost good faith is a common law principle. It is also known as Uberrimae Fidei in latin. The principle means that every person who enters into a contract of insurance has a legal obligation to act with utmost good faith towards the company offering the insurance.

Both the parties to a contract will deal with each other honestly, fairly, and in good faith, so as to not destroy the right of the other party to receive the benefits of the contract.

Salient Features of the Principle

1. The principle of utmost good faith states that the insurer and the insured must disclose all material facts before the policy inception.

What is a Material Fact
A person who is seeking insurance of any kind is required to disclose all information that could be deemed relevant by an insurer. This information, known as material fact, may be any fact or facts that an insurance underwriter could use to assess the level of risk associated with insuring a particular individual. This degree of risk is what an insurer uses to determine coverage and premium, or cost for providing insurance cover. In the case of Satwant Kaur Sandhu V/S New India Assurance Co. Ltd, the term “material fact” was explained by the court to mean any fact that would influence the judgment of the insurer in fixing the premium or determining if he would like to accept the risk or not.

2. The insurance company needs to declare all public disclosures and investment strategies while the insured needs to declare health condition, family medical history, lifestyle, food habits, smoking and alcohol history etc.

3. In case of non-disclosure or misrepresentation of material facts, the policy can be considered as null and void.

4. This principle applies to both life insurance and general insurance policies.

Types of Breach of Utmost Good Faith

• A breach of utmost good faith can be in the form of either

• Misrepresentation i.e. the giving of false information) or

Non-disclosure i.e. failure to give material information to the other party.

SECTOR: LEGAL METROLOGY

PACKAGED COMMODITIES .

The Legal Metrology unit under the Department of Consumer Affairs, (Government of India) establishes and enforces standards of weights and measures, regulates trade and commerce in weights, measures, pre-packaged commodities and other goods which are sold or distributed by weight or measure or number, with the objective of ensuring public guarantee from the point of view of security and accuracy of weighment and measurement.

Following declarations are mandatory on every package –

  • 1. Name and address of the Manufacturer / Packer / Importer,
  • 2. The Common / Generic name of the commodity,
  • 3. The net quantity / numbers of the commodity in metric unit,
  • 4. The month and year of manufacture or packing or import.
  • 5. The Maximum retail sale price or MRP ₹……(inclusive of all taxes).
  • 6. Consumer care details

Consumer must observe the following on every pack.

• All declarations are to be displayed on at least 40% of total surface area.

• Package should be sealed properly and not damaged in any way.

• Alteration / fixing stickers on printed MRP & net quantity by traders is illegal.

• Expiry date or Best before…,for food items, cosmetics, drugs and medicine etc.

• If any doubt of the net quantity in the package, it may be weighed and the purchased.

• Dual MRP on an identical pre-packaged commodity is not allowed.

• Bar Code/ QR Coding is not mandatory.

• Few Medical devices are covered charging more than MRP not allow under labeling rules.

The consumer may complaint in case of any violations to

  • 1. Nodal officer of Legal Metrology of local area / CLM of state/ UTs OR
  • 2. Controller of Legal Metrology of the State/Union territory
SECTOR: BANKING
NEFT and similar on-line transactions become cheaper

There are the many electronic payment methods that allow transfer of funds among different banks. NEFT and RTGS are two very popular modes; both the systems are maintained by the RBI and are used within India.

NEFT stands for ‘National Electronic Funds Transfer’. The NEFT System is used for transferring funds up to ₹ 2 lakh. The NEFT operates in Half- hourly batches, that is, the settlement of transfer of funds takes place on half- hourly basis.

The online payment transaction like NEFT; RTGS etc. cost comprises two components—RBI’s charges plus banks’ services charges based on the infrastructure cost the service provider banks incur. The RBI has decided on 6th June’19 to eliminate the levy on online payment modes -- Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) – a move that is making such transactions cheaper.

The NEFT users must keep in mind that only the RBI has waived their charges ,so the total NEFT charges will become lower , but the serving Banks’ component of the charges will be continued, and the same very from Bank to Bank. So, for details, please check the respective Bank’s web-site.

SBI has already announced the reduction w.e.f. 1st July’19.

IMPACT on CUSTOMER-SERVICE:

  • 1. The RBI’s decision (to do away with NEFT & RTGS charges) will reduce the use of cheques and also reduce the cost of processing them.
  • 2. It will also boost digital mode of payments.
  • The banking regulator’s latest decision indicates its larger intention to encourage digital payments and make India an economy that is a less-cash society.

    Link: https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11586&Mode=0

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'