A while back, I had filed a case in the consumer court of India against HP for giving me a faulty HP printer, which was consuming high amount of ink. I thought it might be beneficial to share the details pertaining to the case so that others could benefit from it.
Should I file a case?
Before proceeding, I would like to clearly mention, that after going through the entire ordeal, I am now of the opinion that one should file a case under only one of the below three conditions:
There are many steps from filing the case to judgement. And for every step, the opposite party can be absent for upto 3 to 4 times. Therefore it is not uncommon to take even 25 hearings to pass the judgement. And there is generally only one hearing per month. This could mean that it could take well above two years for the judgement. Not to forget, the opposite party can again challenge the judgement in a higher consumer court.
Therefore, unless you have a strong reason, and strong evidence, the effort and time you put in might not justify the end result.
Types of Consumer Courts
There are three types of consumer court - District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Based on the amount involved in the case, it gets filed in the appropriate forum.
After filing the petition, either the Opposite Party might agree to uphold the order or it might challenge the order in a higher level consumer court.
So, what happened with my case?
I guess this speaks for itself.
Finally, I won the case and HP took back the printer and paid me compensation as per the order passed by the court :).
Aug 2011 - Filed the case
Sep 2011 - Opposite party did not turn up
Oct 2011 - Opposite party did not turn up
Nov 2011 - Opposite party turned up and asked for some more time
Dec 2011 - Opposite party handed over the counter (response to the complaint).
Jan 2012 - Went to the court. Was supposed to submit an evidence under affidavit. But wasn't aware of it.
Feb 2012 - Submitted the evidence under affidavit.
Mar 2012 - Documents were supposed to be marked. But postponed this to April.
Apr 2012 - Documents had been marked. Opposite party had to submit evidence.
May 2012 - Judge was on leave.
Jun 2012 - Opposite Party asked for two weeks time to submit Evidence.
Jul 2012 - Opposite Party again asked for two weeks time to submit Evidence. The Judge marked it as the last chance.
Jul 2012 - Opposite Party asked to use the counter that he gave initially as evidence. Marking of documents and final hearing scheduled for next month.
Aug 2012 - Opposite party was present. Judge asked to come next month. No other conversation.
Sep 2012 - Written arguments to be submitted next month. The previous written evidence could be used for written arguments.
Oct 2012 - Documents were marked now. A 2 minute process where each document/exhibit is marked as A1, A2, .... (probably implying Annexure 1, Annexure 2, ...). Arguments to be submitted next time. As I wanted to use evidence for arguments, I was asked to submit a written memo mentioning this.
Nov 2012 - Submitted written memo requesting to use rejoinder / written evidence for written arguments. (Note: It is always a good idea to take a signature from OP whenever a document is given to them)
Dec 2012 - Case closes. The judge enquired whether the written arguments were submitted and informed that the order would be passed in a week. There were no oral arguments though.
Jan 2013 - Followed up with the court on the status of the order
Feb 2013 - Again visited the court to find the status. Order had been given in my favour.
Mar 2013 - Received the order by post asking the opposite party to compensate for the charges.
Apr 2013 - Went to court to find out what to do next as 40 days has passed. I have been asked to file an Execution Petition. I was told to submit 5 copies and submit the original order as well (keeping a copy for myself).
Jun 2013 - Finally, HP agrees to refund me as per the order and I am asked to collect the cheque.