NCH
Jago Grahak Jago
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IIPA
 

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

 
Issue No:11/IIPA   
Nov 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 eleventh 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 is also 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 November 2016 , the dockets made/ updated of calls, SMS and complaints received online, the NCH website, and new website http://consumerhelpline.gov.in/ were 21812.

  • The NCH Website www.nationalconsumerhelpline.in. has registered 1,28,295 hits during the month of November 2016.

  • Convergence :The Grievance Resolution Management System of companies who have registered with NCH voluntarily. Total 6786 responses were received from Convergence Company. Out of which, 2113 pertained to the month of October 2016.

  • 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.

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.
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)


  • : Different modes of e- Payments - Move to go cashless

  • Different modes of e- Payments - Move to go cashless In November 2016 after the discontinuation of 500 and 1000 notes by Government of India, a strong initiative is taking place towards digital payment systems by facilitating different kinds of tools for E -Payments like Electronic wallets, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data. These tools were already in use but after demonetization, growth of these tools is expanding by facilitating more electronic payments. Details of three commonly used tools are given below:

    Electronic Wallets

    E-Wallet is an online account that helps you buy merchandise and do all kinds of transactions online without using your debit and credit card. Most card users are concerned about the security aspects of the credit card. Many private operators linked apps are available in India, which are very much used by consumers to make retails transactions.

    Immense use of E-Wallets is taking place by consumers by downloading Apps of different operators from different sources; also these wallets are available in different regional languages.

    To open a wallet, a customer needs to fill up the basic details like mobile phone number and e-mail ID. Once opened, the money can be loaded through debit / credit card or net banking. If one is using an e- wallet issued by a bank, loading money is simpler ,provided the account and the wallet are connected. As per the latest RBI notification, a maximum of Rs 20,000 can be put into a wallet per month. However, if KYC details are provided to the wallet issuer, the wallet user can add value up to Rs 1,00,000.00.

    From a consumer perspective these wallets or prepaid payment wallets primarily be used for making payments for mobile recharges, utility bills, retail purchases etc, but are now expanding to be accepted at toll plazas, metro train stations, and petrol pumps etc.

    Unified Payments Interface (UPI)

    The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) rolled out the UPI platform in April, but it mainly get attraction when several large banks coming on board only post demonetisation on November 8. Fundamentally, UPI uses the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) platform to transfer money between two bank accounts. The UPI is a better universal option than electronic wallets in terms that interoperability within wallets is not yet allowed in India. This utility of E-Wallets for money transfer is very much specific and is not the case with UPI. UPI application can be downloaded on Android device and creating virtual payment address which can be Email ID specific also . After this process 7 digit Mobile Money Identifier number issued by the bank upon registration. The payee will need to identify the recipient on the basis of the MMID and the virtual address. The sign up process and code generation process varies from Bank to Bank

    Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)

    USSD is simple method of making cashless transactions without using Smart or Android phones. It works on the voice network and without internet connection.

    As far as the functionality to check a bank account balance is concerned, it is as simple as checking the phone’s prepaid balance.

    This service, which works only if a mobile phone number is registered with one or multiple bank accounts, works upon dialing *99# from the phone keypad. The phone sends a USSD message asking for the first three letters of the bank or its short name, or the first four letters of the IFSC code.


  • Consumer law and Education-Increasing the ambit of protection to students as consumers

  • Providing education has become more of business than a service to the society. Institutions both reputed and newly in the said business end up fleecing students by charging exhorbitant amount of fees ,in advance, and yet sometimes do not provide the promised facilities. The students who have already shelled out a huge amount as fee are hesitant to raise their voice against the system and are forced to continue with the same institute despite deficiencies simply for the fact that they are afraid of losing the fees paid, in case if ,they opt out of the said institute.

    The consumers ought to know that it has been laid down by our Hon’ble courts that if student wants to leave an institute mid way and is seeking refund paid in advance for the full course he or she shall be eligible for same.

    Although, the fee receipts may say otherwise that the fees once paid shall be non-refundable. The consumers are to be educated that if they are paying for certain services and the institute fails to deliver the same as promised they can withdraw from the course and demand refund of the fees paid in advance. Rules in brochures are not greater than law of land as laid down by the courts . Colleges and universities can be challenged in consumer forums as institutes are service providers & education is a service as defined under The Consumer Protection Act,1986.

    In Maharishi Dayanand University Vs Surjeet Kaur the consumer fora had held that the Universities are not giving services under Consumer Protection Act,1986. However, this cannot be treated asthe law because Supreme Court has till date not issued any orders barring the consumer forums from accepting petitions against Educational Institutes.

    In 2001,it has been held by the National Commission in Bhupesh Khurana Vs Viswa Budh Parshad that the University was a service provider. However,in 2003 ,in the case of Usmania Academy Vs State of Karnataka the Honble Supreme Court held that the Educational Institutions are answerable before Consumer fora. The Apex Court further directed UGC to frame rules for the various educational institutions and as a result of the said directions the a University Grants Commission framed guidelines as under: -

    • The educational institutes cannot retain more than Rs.1000/- in case student leaves institute. Even if there is a clause in support of non-refund of fees in the brochure.

    • The educational institute cannot retain the original certificates.

    • The educational institute cannot demand fee for entire course from the student at the very onset of the course .

    However, the courts have clearly laid down that University while conducting exams or giving admission to students into particular subjects or streams or while deciding fee structures, number of seats available, cannot be questioned before the Consumer fora as these are statutory functions and donot fall within the definition of ‘services’ as laid down under the Consumer Protection Act,1986. The University can decide in its own way. It has also been clarified by the courts that Consumer Fora cannot question the terms and conditions or the rules of prospectus or brochures set out by the Universities/Educational Institutes. However, if the course was unapproved or if no classes are taking place as promised in the brochures or advertisements or there is lack of facilities as promised the students are entitled to the refund of full fees.

    In a recent judgment of June 2016 of the Andhra Pradesh consumer forum has ordered in a case pertaining to NIFT quoting the UGC guidelines & rulings of the Supreme court that as per the UGC guidelines college can deduct only Rs.1000/- if the student leaves midway rest of the fees has to be refunded. Although in 2009, the Apex Court had said that the Education Boards are not service providers in the case of one Rajesh Kumar against the Bihar education Board. The court said that during the course of conduct of exams or evaluation of answer scripts or furnishing mark sheets there may be negligence, omission or deficiency. But this will NOT make the Board a service provider.

    The courts have increased the ambit of the protection being given to the students as consumers. In many such cases, which have come before the National Commission, the apex consumer court has clearly held that providing education is a service and has compensated the aggrieved consumer. In a number of cases the non supply of Roll Number, unexplained delay in deciding the application for admission, misrepresentation in advertisement and prospectus about the recognition of the college, non refund of the initial payment as college fee etc. have been held as deficiency in service. Also in the past, Consumer courts have held that misleading advertisements by educational institutions can amount to an unfair trade practice and have even directed the institutions to stop such ads in the future. Where the student could not get his roll number for which he had applied to sit for his exams & as a result of this, he lost a year of his studies, the consumer courts have held that it amounted to a deficiency of service.

     

    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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