NCH
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IIPA
 

Consumer Velocity @ NCH
(The monthly newsletter from National Consumer Helpline)

 
Issue No:12/IIPA   
Dec 2016
 
Inside the issue

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Snapshots
Call Statistics
Convergence&feedback
C S Index
Words of appreciation

 

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Consumer Kaleidoscope
Recent announcements for consumers
   
Contact

To seek information, advice and guidance on consumer problems

Contact
National Consumer Helpline

Toll Free no.

1800-11-4000

(All Seven days)
09.30 AM to 05.30 PM

or SMS your name and city to
+918130009809 (Charges Apply) .

Editorial Team

Editor in Chief:
•Prof. Suresh Misra

Consulting Editor:
•Mr. G. N. Sreekumaran


Editorial Team:

• Ms. Deepika Sur
• Mr. Sanjeev Talwar
• Ms. Seema Sharma
• Ms. Harsh Dhingra

Sector Expert:
• Mr. Prabhat Kumar
• Ms. Payal Choudhry

Designing & Development:
• Mr. Ashish Kumar Gaur

 
Jago Grahak Jago
 

CONSUMER VELOCITY @ NCH.

You are reading of the twelfth issue of Year 2016.

The National Consumer Helpline (NCH) is a project of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and operates under the Centre for Consumer Studies at Indian Institute of Public Administration. Keeping in view the increasing demand of NCH by Consumer, the Department of Consumer Affairs has expanded NCH and at present 49 Lines are available to Consumer to file their complaints. Apart from this, the NCH at IIPA has been renovated to cater to the needs of the consumer.

The new web portal www.consumerhelpline.gov.in has been developed by NIC and is being used to record and handle complaints received at NCH. All calls whether received at helpline or directly on website both are lodged on this portal. Convergence Companies have also got login credentials for consumer complaints redressal on this new portal to view complaints and update the resolution

The Project recognizes the need of consumers for a Telephone Helpline to deal with multitude of problems arising in their day-to-day dealings with business and service providers. NCH is mandated to support consumers by providing the following.

- Alternate Dispute Redressal system (ADR): Guide consumers on how to get their grievance redressed. Also NCH provide a digital platform to 200+ convergence companies for resolution and redress of customer complaints, as per the policy of the company. Industry interactions are platforms for open communication.

- Information & guidance: provide information to consumers on products, services, company addresses, ombudsman, Regulators and consumer forums. Counselors provide information as per the stage of the complaint – Tier 1, 2 or 3. Information is also provided for standards ( Hallmark, ISI) and other services like RTI, PAN card, UIDAI, Financial Inclusion programs etc.

- Advocacy: Based on the analysis of data at NCH and trends that emerge, specific type of complaints affecting a large number of consumers is highlighted to the organization and to the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the information is shared with consumers on various platforms.

SNAPSHOT  
  • In the month of December 2016, National Consumer helpline has received 38804 calls. Out of this, 29187 dockets were made, which includes complaints registered on Website - www.consumerhelpline.gov.in as well as sms received. Out of 29187 complaints, 20951 complaints were handled at Toll free number, 853 outbound calls were made, and 7997 complaints were reported on Website..

  • The NCH Website www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in. has registered 1,76,217 hits during the month of December 2016.

  • Convergence :The Grievance Resolution Management System of companies who have registered with NCH voluntarily. Total 7061 responses were received from Convergence Company.

  • CPGRAMS complaints:Over the last few months, the helpline has been responding to complaints forwarded by 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.
Geographical Distribution: 
The numbers of calls received from top five states in descending order are Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat. (including Graph)

image loading for Percentage of calls State wise...

Major Sectors: 
The sectors were restructured in the new software with Industry wise and then subsequently category wise. The top five sectors for which calls were received are e-Commerce, Electronics Products, Telecom, Consumer Durable and Banking (Including graph)
image loading for Percentage of calls Sector wise...

Besides consumer awareness, NCH also works towards 'making Corporates responsible’ in resolving consumer grievances. NCH has created an alternate redressal mechanism for resolving consumer complaints. Currently over 200 companies are listed under the ‘convergence’ programme. All companies have partnered with NCH voluntarily.

A wide spectrum of sectors ranging from consumer electronics and durables (Air conditioner, Mobile Handset, Television, Apparels, Footwear manufacturers) to services like Banking, Insurance, Electricity, Telecom companies to diversified sectors such as Automobiles, Courier, Tours & Holidays are all ‘convergence’ partners of NCH. Complaints received are accessed by the nodal person (SPOC) at each company who is also responsible for uploading the responses. During the month, 6786 responses were received which included 2113 responses to the cases registered for previous months complaints.

 

CONSUMER KALEIDOSCOPE
(Recent announcements in Consumer Interest)


  • SAFETY TIPS ON DIGITAL PAYMENTS

  • Going digital? Consumers Be Aware

    The recent demonetization move in India has pushed the consumers to move to a cash-free economy. With digital payments witnessing record transactions and more and more consumers joining the cashless bandwagon, there is an obvious question on everyone's mind are digital transactions safe?

    Here are the key ways in which digital payments can be breached:

    Key Logger: Static passwords like 3D PINs or banking passwords, that are entered regularly, are vulnerable to cyber-fraud through a key logger, as it can record regularly typed- in passwords without the user's knowledge.

    Solution: Using a dynamic PIN is a smart solution to the breach caused by key loggers. It is also beneficial to use apps that have an in-app secure swipe instead of the ones that require the keying in of an OTP.

    Social Engineering: Those calls that seem to come from the bank might not really be from the bank itself. Credit and debit cards are used at many online merchants and marketplaces. Even if these online transactions use OTPs and CVVs, someone may call the cardholder and pretend to be a representative of the bank, acting as if an online transaction needs to be confirmed, and subsequently ask the cardholder to share the received OTP. When the OTP is disclosed by the cardholder, a fraudulent transaction can take place.

    Solution: Never Disclose Your OTP-with anyone.

    OTP Pop-Ups: Although OTPs mostly appear as pop-up notifications on mobile phones, for a short duration, However, these pop-up messages are clearly visible, even if the mobile phone is locked. This means that the OTP can be easily accessed without the permission of the user, making the transaction open to being breached.

    Solution: Use Smartphone with suitable Fireball.

    4. OTP Accessibility: Although an OTP is essential, the medium through which it is delivered is of utmost importance. Most of the times, a One Time Password is sent as a SMS.This means that if an app is malicious it can misuse the OTP that has been received.

    Solution: Therefore, users should be aware of what privileges they give to the apps on their smart phone and also look at reviews and number of downloads of the apps they choose.

    5. EDC Machines: Even with a second-step PIN verification, swiping a card on an EDC machine is not as safe as it seems. EDC machines are susceptible to breach and a compromised machine can copy the details of the cards when swiped. Most debit and credit cards have a static PIN, and even these PINs can be stored in compromised EDC machines .A breach like this can give easy access to the personal data of cardholders to fraudulent groups.

    Solution: A dynamic PIN for physical credit or debit cards could be a strong safeguard against compromised EDC machines.

    As there are many threats and vulnerabilities with digital payment systems, we need a system that goes much further than regular security standards. This digital payment system should have more than two layers of security so that it is virtually impenetrable.

    Consumers of India in the new digital economy need to be aware of the vulnerabilities in the digital and mobile payment systems.


  • COMMERCIAL PURPOSE VS LIVELIHOOD

  • Consumer Protection Act Section 2(d) lays down the definition of "consumer" as any person who—

    (i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose; or

    (ii) hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly prom¬ised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who 'hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial purposes;

    Explanation.— For the purposes of this clause, “commercial purpose” does not include use by a person of goods bought and used by him and services availed by him exclusively for the purposes of earning his livelihood by means of self-employment;

    There is a very thin line between the goods being used to earn "Livelihood " or for "Commercial purpose" and will depend on a number of factors and shall differ from case to case.

    The courts , as would be seen from the case law mentioned below, have been differentiating it from case to case. In Synco Textile Private Ltd Vs Greaves Cotton and Co Ltd (1991) 1 CPJ, the Court while emphasizing on the word "commercial purpose" laid down that "for any commercial purpose are wide enough to take in all cases where goods are purchased for being used in any activity directly intended to generate profit". Synco Textile's case implicates that "commercial purpose" should be distinguished from commercial organization or commercial activity.

    While dealing with the ambit and the scope of the term "Commercial Purpose " the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Lakshmi Engineering works Vs PSG Industries, AIR 1995 SC 1428, has laid down the test of close and direct nexus with the commercial activity. The Court has further held that the explanation appended to Sec 2(d) (ii) reduces the question "what is a commercial purpose" to a question of fact to be decided in the facts of each case. The Court further held that it is not the value of the goods that matters, but the purpose to which the goods bought are put to. The several words employed in the explanation viz "uses by himself" "exclusively for the purpose of earning his livelihood" and "by means of self employment" make the intention of the Parliament abundantly clear, that the goods bought must be used by the buyer himself, by employing himself for earning his livelihood.

    The Court has further held that the purpose for which a person has bought goods is a commercial purpose within the meaning of definition of expression "consumer" in section 2(d) of the Act and is always a question of fact to be decided in the facts and circumstances of the case.

    In BhuperndraGuna Vs Regional Manager and others (II 1995 CPJ 139), the National Commission held that a tractor purchased primarily to till the land of the purchaser and let or on hire during the idle time to till the lands of others, would not amount to commercial use.In Kalpavruksha Charitable Trust Vs Toshniwal Brothers (Bombay) Pvt Ltd 2000 (1) SCC 512 where the question involved was whether the appellant is a consumer within the meaning of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and whether the goods in question were obtained by him for "re-sale" or for any "commercial purpose". The Hon'ble Supreme Court held that, since every patient who is referred to the diagnostic center and who takes advantage of the CT scan, etc has to pay for it and only ten percent patients are provided free service. That being so, the "Goods" (machinery) which are obtained by the appellants were being used for commercial purposes.

    In C. P. Moosa - Vs. - Chowgle Industries Ltd 2001-CPJ-3- 9-NC ; 2001-CPR-2-92-NC ; the appellant had purchased EPBAX system for his hotel with warranty and annual maintenance contract. There was deficiency of service during warranty period and AMC period. The National Commission held that the case falls under Section 2(1) (d) (ii) and appellant entitled to compensation. In Super Computer Centre V. Globiz Investment Pvt. Ltd. III (2006) CPJ 265 (NC) where the complainant, a company, had purchased computer system along with related accessories from the opposite party. The intellifax machine, which was supplied with the computer, was not giving performance up to the mark and the same was defective. When the dispute went to the redressal forum under the Consumer Protection Act, the opposite party contended that the complainant was not a consumer as the computer and the machine were purchased by the company for business purpose i.e. for commercial purpose. However, the defect in the machine was intimated to the opposite party within the warranty period. The National Commission held that the purchaser of the machinery would certainly be a consumer in respect of defect in machine during period of warranty. In Action Construction Equipment Ltd &Anr vs BabluMridha 4(2012)CPJ245(NC), the Hon'ble National Commission has said that the law on this point is well settled, that when a buyer takes the assistance of one or two persons to assist/help him in operating the machine, he does not cease to be a consumer. Since, in the present case also, respondent is having only two machines and same are being used by the respondent for earning his livelihood, by no stretch it can be said that respondent is engaged in commercial activities.

    In Sawinder Kumar Vs Action Construction in a judgment delivered by the National Commission on 14 th March 2012- The facts of the case were that Appellant (complainant before State Commission) in its complaint has stated that he has been carrying on the business of crane service under the name and style of “GURUBAKSH LOGISTIC INDIA” and is its Managing Director. He had purchased four Hydraulic Mobile Cranes during different period from respondent No.1/opposite party No. 1. It is further stated that appellant is earning his livelihood from the machines in question. Above stated cranes developed defects within warranty period. Despite repeated services provided by the respondents for repairing these machines, defects could not be rectified. Thereafter, appellant approached respondents to replace these machines with new one or to refund its price. However, respondent No. 1 refused to accede to this request. Thereafter, appellant served a legal notice, to which there was no response. Hence, complaint was filed before the State Commission. Relying on Birla Technologies Ltd.’s case where the Hon’ble Apex Court has held:-

    “ 9. In view of the findings of the National Commission that the goods sold by the applicant to the respondent/complainant amounted to ‘goods’ and that such goods were purchased for commercial purpose of earning more profits, there could be no dispute that even the services which were offered had to be for the commercial purposes. Nothing was argued to the contrary. It seems that the whole error has crept in because of the wrong factual observation that the complaint was filed on 1.8.2000. In that view, it has to be held that the complaint itself was not maintainable, firstly, on the count that under Section 2(1) (d) (i) the goods have been purchased for commercial purposes and on the second count that the services were hired or availed of for commercial purposes. The matter does not come even under the Explanation which was introduced on the same day i.e. on 15.3.2003 by way of the amendment by the same Amendment Act, as it is nobody’s case that the goods bought and used by the respondent herein and the services availed by the respondent’s livelihood by means of self-employment. In that view, it will have to be held that the complaint itself was not maintainable in toto ”.

    The facts of the instant case are fully attracted to Birla technologies Ltd’s Case (Supra).

    The NCDRC held that-" the appellant himself admits that he has been carrying outthe business of cranes service under the name and style of “Gurubaksh Logistic India”. In view of the above, since the complainant had purchased four Hydraulic Mobile Cranes, therefore, it is proved that the cranes were to be plied by some other person and not be the complainant himself. More so, the complainant himself is the Managing Director of ‘ Gurubaksh Logistic India’ as is evident from the heading of the complaint itself. Thus, the complainant cannot be termed as a “Consumer” in view of Section 2(1) (d) (ii) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and thus his complaint is not entertain able on this ground alone . At the same time he has taken the plea that he is earning his livelihood from the machines in question. It had no where been explained as to in what manner appellant is earning his livelihood for himself and as to how these four machines are being used by him at one time and hence dismissed the complaint with costs."

    As is evident from the case law cited above there is a very thin line of demarcation between the goods purchased for the purpose of ‘commercial use’ and for the purpose of ‘earning a livelihood’. Thus the admissibility of the complaint being a consumer issue or not will solely depend on the interpretation given by the Consumer Courts and will differ from case to case.

     

    National Consumer Helpline 
    Centre for Consumer Studies , Indian Institute of Public Administration
    Toll Free No. : 1800-11-4000

    or SMS your name & city & send to +918130009809
    ( Monday to Saturday  9.30AM to 5.30PM)  
    Website: www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in

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