DEFECTIVE GOODS AND DEFICIENCY IN SERVICE IN CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT

Aayushi (1)

INTRODUCTION

The success of every business depends on the satisfaction of its consumers. In this world, everyone is a consumer. No one can survive without the consumption of goods and services. Consumption immediately starts with the birth of a person. Over time, trade is expanding widely and, there is the emergence of e-commerce websites which has widened the scope of the market. With such an increase in trade and commerce, it’s apparent that the chances of consumer exploitation have also increased. The government has realized the need to protect its consumers from exploitation so, it has enacted various acts for consumer protection to protect consumer interests. Consumer Protection Act is the one passed to provide quick access to the redressal of consumer complaints.[1]

This blog discusses defects in goods and deficiency in services in Consumer Protection Act. 

WHO IS CONSUMER?

The Consumer is well-defined under section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. The definition under the said section is explained in two terms, one concerning buying of goods and the other availing of services. 

  • The Consumer of Goods (Section 2(7)(i)) A consumer is a person who purchases goods for consideration. If a person buys goods not for personal use but for reselling them to another person, he is not a consumer. The person who buys goods for self-employment is also a consumer.[2]

Illustrations

  1. A bought a car by paying cash in consideration to B. Thus, A is a consumer.
  2. A bought a machine for reselling it to another person. Thus, A is not a consumer.
  3. A bought a sewing machine for stitching clothes for its customers. Thus, A is a consumer.
  • The Consumer of Services (Section 2(7)(ii))- A person will be a consumer if he/she avails or hires any services for consideration. The consideration payable is a must and, if the consumer doesn’t pay any consideration, he will not be regarded as a consumer.[3]

Illustrations

  1. A hired a taxi. Thus, A is a Consumer.
  2. A hired an advocate who refused to charge any fee as both were friends. A is not a Consumer.

DEFECT IN GOODS

What are Goods?

Term goods is defined under Section 2(21) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. According to this section, goods mean any property which is movable. Goods also include food as defined under section 3(1)(j) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.[4]

Illustration

A brought a book from B for a consideration of Rs. 500. Here, the book is a tangible good and Rs. 500 is the amount paid for it as a consideration. 

What is Defect?

Every consumer desire that the goods he bought are in a situation as desired by him means there shouldn’t be any defect in it but, how can we define this defect?

Section 2(10) defines a defect as any 

  • Shortcoming
  • Imperfection
  • Fault 

in some parameters of goods such as -:

purity, quality, quantity, potency, or standard which the producer is required to maintain or provided under any law or any contract or implied by the trader in any manner.[5]

Defective Goods

From the above definitions, it is easy to identify a defective good. Goods that include any of the shortcomings given under section 2(10) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 is a defective good.

Illustrations 

  1. Adulterated milk is a defective good.
  2. Beauty products which may badly affect users’ skin is a defective good.

RECENT CASE LAWS RELATED TO DEFECTIVE GOODS

  1. Tata Motors Ltd. v. Antonio Paulo Vaz (18 February 2021).[6]In this case, Vaz was sold a 2-year-old defective car by a dealer instead of a new car. Vaz requested the dealer to either refund the money or replace the car but he didn’t do so. Vaz filed a complaint against the manufacturer and dealer in the district Commission and the commission held both of them equally liable. Manufacturers filed a revision of the case in the National Commission and the court held that the Manufacturer is not liable for dealers’ fault unless the Manufacturer’s fault is proved in cases.[7]
  1. Gurdial Chadha v. M/S Sugoi Motors Ltd. (31st January 2020).[8] In this case, Gurdial Chadha bought a car in the year 2017 which was not delivered as per specifications given. But the petitioner filed the complaint in 2020 after the expiry of the statutory period of two years under section 24A of the Consumer Protection Act. Therefore, even if the car was defective or not as per specifications, the court couldn’t investigate the same. [9]

DEFICIENCY IN SERVICES

What is a service?

Service is any benefit availed by the consumer which is not tangible. Every day we all humans hire different services. Term service is defined under Section 2(42) of the Consumer Protection Act,2019. These services include facilities related to banking, financing, processing, insurance, telecom, transport, etc. A service provided will be counted as a service only when it is in paid form. Service doesn’t include any free service. [10]

Illustrations

  1. Internet facility is a service.
  2. Teaching is a service in which the teacher is a service provider.
  3. Medical Check-up is a service in which Doctor is a service provider.

What is Deficiency?

In literal terms, deficiency means inadequacy. Term deficiency is defined under section 2(11) of the Consumer Protection Act,2019. 

It means any

  • Imperfection
  • Limitation
  • Fault
  • Insufficiency

 in the nature, manner, and quality of performance, required to be maintained by or under any law or in pursuance of a contract or otherwise concerning any service. [11]

Illustrations

  1. A customer buys a ticket for an AC bus. But AC of the bus does not work, which is a deficiency of service.

Deficiency of Service

The above two definitions help to clearly understand the meaning of deficiency in services. Whenever there is any sort of deficiency in services, the customer is exploited which results in his loss of money. Any kind of negligence or omission or commission can cause injury to consumers.[12]

Illustration

  1. Inappropriate treatment done by a doctor leading to an increase in patient’s suffering is the deficiency in service.

Recent Case Laws Related to Deficiency in services

  1. Gurshinder Singh v. Shriram General Insurance Company Ltd. (2020)[13]: Under this case, Supreme Court held that if there is a mere delay by a person in intimating the insurance company about the theft, this cannot be the ground to repudiate an insurance claim.[14]
  2. Amitabh Dasgupta v. United Bank of India (19th February 2021)[15]: Under this case, the Supreme Court issued some guidelines on allotting and operating of lockers and the court held that banks will be liable under the Consumer Protection Act for deficiencies in locker services.[16]

CONCLUSION 

Emerging E-Commerce has led to an increase in trade and business. Under the Consumer Protection Act,2019, the exchange of goods and services includes offline or online transactions. Such an increase in business has led to more exploitation of consumers. Exploitation means unfair trade practices of defective goods and deficient services. Therefore, Consumer Protection Act helps all consumers to seek justice easily and more speedily.

Author(s) Name: Aayushi (University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh)

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[1] Division Two- Commentary on Consumer Protection Act,

http://ncdrc.nic.in/bare_acts/1_1_2.html (last visited March 12,2021)

[2] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(7)(i), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[3] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(7)(ii), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[4] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(21), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[5] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(10), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[6] Tata Motors Ltd. v. Antonio Paulo Vaz, Civil Appeal no. 574/2021, SLP(C) 10220 of 2020

[7] Tata Motors Ltd. v. Antonio Paulo Vaz, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/192852707/. (last visited March 12,2021)

[8] Gurdial Chadha v. M/S Sugoi Motors Ltd, (2020)

[9] Gurdial Chadha v. M/S Sugoi Motors Ltd and Others, https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/5e58bbc29fca194cae7d76d6. (last visited March 12, 20221)

[10] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(42), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[11] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(11), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[12] The Consumer Protection Act,2019, Section 2(11), No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2019

[13] Gurshinder Singh v. Shriram General Insurance Company Ltd., (2020), Civil Appeal no. 653 of 2020

[14] Gurshinder Singh vs Sriram General Insurance Co. Ltd. on 24 January,2020, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/8225715/.  (last visited March 12, 2021)

[15] Amitabh Dasgupta v. United Bank of India, (2021), 33 SC

[16] Banks liable under Consumer Protection Act for deficiencies in locker services: Supreme Court issues guidelines on allotting, operating lockers, https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/supreme-court-issues-guidelines-to-banks-allotting-operating-lockers-judgment#:~:text=Banks%20cannot%20impose%20unilateral%20and,United%20Bank%20of%20India) (last visited March 12, 2021)

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