Wednesday, February 17, 2021

How to file a consumer complaint in India, and WIN!

Most of us make purchases online, ranging from small denominations like an Rs.50 mobile phone recharge to buying the most expensive gadgets too (I am sure that day is not far behind when cars or houses are purchased online too!)

And if you are making transactions online almost daily, you must be hearing of cases of fraudulent websites, orders that were never honored, refunds that were never given, or the wrong product and other woes. More often or not, you will try to reach the brand's customer care via email or phone or social media and if still no luck then you will leave it (unless you have a lawyer friend or strong connections and there is a big amount involved).

Though I am fortunate to usually have good experiences mostly while making the numerous purchases I make online (I bought some of my wedding outfits online, mind you), there was a recent experience that left me bitter but I resolved to do something about it, and want to share my experience with you'll in case it helps.

Site: Apple India's official online store.

Item purchased: iPhone 12 Pro Max Magsafe Leather Cover

Issue: I had purchased an iPhone 12 Pro right from the Apple India official online store, and a few days later I ordered the adaptor (they no longer include one with the phone) and a MagSafe case. My hurried mistake while ordering was that I did not notice that instead of iPhone 12 Pro, I placed an order for iPhone 12 Pro Max case (both phones look exactly the same, sans the size difference) and the price for both covers was also the same. The cover arrived soon, and I only realized that it was the wrong model when I went to open the box and saw what was written on it.

The cover costs Rs.5900 which is a huge amount for someone like me (you would get a starting end android phone in as much!) so I pleaded my case to apple's customer care (their chats are largely flawed, there is no email, none responds to social media/tweets, so telephonic is pretty much the only way).

The first time I explained my situation, the customer support executive heard me out and wanted to help, and told me she would try to make an exception in my case by talking to her seniors. When I did not hear back from her on days, I called them again, my hopes raised, only to know that no such commitment was made and their policies state that they cannot make any refund or exchange in this scenario.

I was furious for two reasons - one being that the previous person did give me hopes, and second being that had this been Apple's policies for the US, they would have happily taken away the case back even if I opened the packaging. Not to forget that I indeed had purchased the phone from their website, which was in their records, this is the least they could do to support a customer instead of making the experience sour.

I had almost given up and was trying to find a buyer through my own contacts, but no luck (fortunately).

Resolution: Someone told me about consumer complaint forums, and I decided to give it a shot. You first need to sign up on - https://consumerhelpline.gov.in/ or download their app and register. Do not expect an impressive shiny website, but it works.

Next, you need to submit your complaint by sharing all details possible, date of purchase, invoice details, issue, and all supporting evidence. That is all, your case is registered with them.

I did not hear back for days, and then I got a notification that my case was escalated to the next step which made me hopeful. A few more days passed, and there was no intimation or update of any kind after which out of the blue I received a call from Apple's International team, who told me that they will exchange the product and give me the right product as soon as the return is made! I could hardly believe my ears, Justice had been served!

Soon the original wrong product was picked up from my address, and the correct model's case is finally delivered to me, 2 months to get a resolution but still better than Rs.5900 going down the drain.

It is indeed a powerful feeling to know that as a consumer if you are right and deserve resolutions, there are means to get it done. I am grateful to the consumer forum team, and by the way, did I mention that they do not charge any service fee/cost to get the resolution?

So next time you are wrongly charged, duped, or not given proper resolution and have tried all other means, do try making a grievance application here. I would remind you to be patient, and I would also urge you not to misuse the facility by making false claims.

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