Online retailers also responsible for damaged products: Consumer court

Online retailers also responsible for damaged products: Consumer court

Submitted by Subeditor on Thu, 2016-01-21 08:16 Bengaluru: E-commerce companies with their tempting discounts have become a rage these days. But their spectacular growth has also resulted in the rise of complaints with regard to fake/mismatched/damaged products.Unfortunately, online retailers usually decline to take any responsibility for damaged products, arguing in their defence that they are just connecting the manufacturer with the consumer, and that their responsibility ends with it.But a recent judgment delivered by the Mysore District Consumer Forum has come as a shot in the arm for the consumers in their fight against online retailers. In its judgment, the forum observed that even online retailers, too, are accountable for delivering substandard products sold by manufacturers.The order came when the forum heard the case involving PB Usharani, a resident of Gayathripuram in Mysore, who had dragged the online firm Naaptol.com to the consumer forum over a damaged product.Usharani placed an order with Naaptol for a ‘folding cupboard’, which came with a free shoe rack, for Rs 1,999 after seeing an advertisement in a newspaper. She paid Rs 2,398 including the freight charges. But Usharani was shocked on receiving the product, as it had been extensively damaged.Immediately, she contacted Naaptol and informed the issue. But when the company didn’t replace the damaged products, Usharani moved the Mysore district Consumer Redressal Forum.When the forum served notice to Naaptol, the company argued that they didn’t haveany liability since they were not the manufacturer of the product. Naaptol claimed that they were working as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. They further stated that they can refund or replace the product only after receiving directions from the manufacturer. Rejecting the company’s defence, forum stated that Usharani had ordered the product after noticing an advertisement in a newspaper published by Naaptol. And since the company did not disclose its limited liability in the advertisement, the forum said it was Naaptol’s responsibility to resolve the problem even during the absence of manufacturer (seller). In its final order, the forum directed Naaptol to refund the cost of the product along with the 18 percent interest. It also directed Naaptol to pay Rs3,000 as compensation for the mental agony caused to Usharani and Rs1,000 towards litigation expenses.