Protection of Consumer's Rights in the Case of Defective Goods

Last revision: Last revision:April 16, 2023
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Nowadays everyone faces a situation where they are a recipient of a defective product from a local store near their place of residence or from an online store like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. With the increasing use of e-commerce sites and social media for the purchase of products, more customers are becoming vulnerable to false and misleading product descriptions and quality. The manufacturers and sellers must ensure that the products they deal with are safe to use, confirm the seller's description, and are of decent quality. In this guide, we will be discussing the rights and remedies available for a consumer who is a recipient of a defective product.

What is a defective product?

A product can be called defective if goods/products are a faulty product, imperfection or shortcomings in quality and quantity, lack of purity, substandard, and so on as required under any applicable law or contract entered between you and the seller.

Who is a consumer?

In the case of goods/products, a consumer means:

- an individual person, who purchases goods/services; AND
- pays certain consideration for goods/services (i.e. pay some price); AND
- uses purchased goods/services for personal use (not for further commercial resale or any other commercial/business purpose).

If you are a consumer who comes under the definition, you can file a complaint to the concerned consumer forum or court under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. If you are a reseller or have purchased the product for commercial purposes, you can file a civil suit against the seller or manufacturer.

Who are all liable for a defective product?

As per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, all the parties including the manufacturer, suppliers, sellers, etc. are liable for any defective product sold to a consumer. Under this Act, the endorsers or promoters are also liable for promoting a faulty or substandard product. Thus, when you send a notice or file a complaint, you can make all the parties involved or any one of them a party to the case.

What are the remedies available for a consumer?

Check Website Terms and Conditions first

Before initiating any formal complaint, you can ask the seller or manufacturer to return/replace the defective product. If you are purchasing from an e-commerce website like Amazon or Flipkart, you can see their Website Terms and Conditions before approaching them for the return or replacement of the product. In most cases, there will be an option to return the product for a certain period by following certain procedures.

Choose an amicable settlement

The Letter Requesting Return/Replace a Product ("Letter") is sent to the seller or manufacturer to either replace the product with a good product or return and refund the amount paid for the product. This letter can be sent to the seller as a first step in getting the matter resolved. In most cases, the issues will be resolved by informing the seller/manufacturer through a written letter and thereby you can save a lot of time and resources. Even though there is no stipulated notice period mentioned under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, it is better to give a reasonable period to replace or return the defective product. It is important to note that the notice period will not be excluded from calculating the limitation period of two years under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.T

The sender can specifically mention in the Letter the losses/damages incurred by them due to the defects in the product and can specifically ask for payment of damages within a stipulated period. Under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and other statutes the consumer is also entitled to the damage caused to a person, property, etc. due to fault in the product.

Through this Letter, the sender can ask for the remedies like removing the defects in the product, replacing the product with a new product, refunding the amount paid for the product, and paying the expenses/losses incurred by the sender due to defects in the product.

If the seller is not responding or neglecting the request under this Letter, you can send a Formal Notice before filing a consumer complaint.

The following person(s) can send this Letter:

  • Consumer - please check the section "Who is a consumer?" for more details.
  • Legal Representative of the Consumer - A duly appointed legal representative of the consumer. A representation is possible based on a respective Power of Attorney duly signed by the Consumer.
  • Legal Heir of the Consumer - Legal heir/s of the deceased consumer.
  • Parent/Guardian of the Consumer - In case of minor/s their parents or guardians can send this letter to the erring seller.
  • Voluntary Consumer Organization - such an organization has to be registered under the Companies Act.
  • Group of Consumers - one or more consumers having the same interest can send this letter together.

File a consumer complaint

If the seller or manufacturer is not responding to your requests or taking any action, you file a consumer complaint with National Consumer Helpline within 2 (two) years from the cause of action. Under this website, you can opt for multiple options to register your complaint using the following methods:

  • By calling the toll-free number 1800114000; or
  • SMS to the following number: 8130009809; or
  • Submit the grievance through an Online Form; or
  • Using the NCH APP; or
  • Using the UMANG App.

Court as a final instance

If you are a consumer as prescribed above, you can file a consumer complaint to the consumer forum concerned or court. At the time of filing the consumer complaint, you can also attach a copy of letters and notices sent to the sellers/manufacturers regarding the defective product.

If you are not a consumer under the definition, i.e. a reseller or has purchased the product for commercial purposes, you can file a civil suit for recovery of money and damages within 3 (three) years from the date of cause of action.

Thus, you can get a remedy for a defective product under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, Sale of Goods Act, 1930, and Indian Contract Act, 1872.

Conclusion

Thus, considering the pendency of cases in courts and the time taken to resolve the matter, it is always better to try to resolve the matter outside the court. Thus, before resorting to any legal remedies, you can send a letter requesting the return/replacement of the defective product or a final legal notice before filing a consumer complaint. In most cases, you may be able to resolve the matter without resorting to any legal remedies and thereby you may be able to save a lot of money and resources on the same.

Templates and examples to download in Word and PDF formats

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