Consumers BEWARE!
Maker liable for supplying poor quality fan
Pushpa Girimaji Pushpa Girimaji

AS summer has now fully set in, it is time to think about the ubiquitous fan. Usually, we tend to forget all about this electrical contraption that delivers air so effortlessly`A0once it is fixed to the ceiling. Normally, fans work tirelessly, but it does not hurt to have these serviced and refixed at least once in a while.

I say this because some years ago, a resident of Bangalore had a narrow escape when the blades of a ceiling fan got detached and came hurling down on him at full speed. I also remember a case that had come up before the consumer court many years ago. A person had been injured when the ceiling fan in a movie theatre in Mumbai had come crashing down on her. More recently, a customer in a shop in Gurgaon was hit by the moving blades of a small wall-mounted fan when they got detached from the body of the fan.

So it is not enough to buy a good fan; it is equally important to ensure that it is mounted properly and serviced at regular intervals. In fact a good quality fan should have the blades securely fixed to the motor so that they do not loosen during operation.

As far as buying a good fan is concerned, one needs to look at its safety, performance, its power consumption, breeze delivery, energy efficiency and noise level. Who wants a fan that disturbs your sleep through a humming noise, probably coming from the regulator? Yes, you will be surprised at the number of features that one should look for while purchasing a fan. If you thought that one fan is as good as the other, you will be mistaken.

In fact in 2006, Delhi-based consumer group Voice tested 12 brands of 1200 mm, three-blade ceiling fans and found in their performance, much to be desired. One area where the tests showed up the lacunae was in the air delivery, the most important criteria. Usually, as technology improves, so also the quality. But Voice found that compared to the earlier results of the tests conducted by it in 2002, this particular quality of air delivery had actually gone down!

In fact the 2006 tests also revealed that barring two brands, all others failed in the "service value" test, which refers to the amount of air delivered per minute per wattage of electricity (or to put it differently, the energy efficiency of the fan). Even in respect of power consumption, barring two, all others failed to match up to the ISI standards. Clients would, therefore, do well to go for those fans that have the energy efficiency labelling from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE).

Unlike in the past, today we have a variety of`A0fans to choose from. There are those fancy ones with chandeliers attached to them. Then there are those meant specifically for kids, with their favourite cartoon characters adorning the fan. You also have a variety of wall-mounted fans and table fans, many of them coming from China. They may look really good and the price may be really reasonable, but make sure that their performance, quality and energy efficiency are good, too.

One also needs to check on the after-sales service provided by the manufacturers. We usually tend to think that fans do not give any trouble once fixed to the ceiling, but you could well be surprised. In one particular case, for example, the consumer found, much to his dismay, that his brand new, expensive fan was making a rattling noise and was wobbly, too. It took several phone calls to the dealer to get a replacement, and even here, the dealer sold him a different model, costing more and charged more for it.

People who have bought China-made models have also had some problems with the retailers refusing to take responsibility for them. Well, what retailers perhaps do not know is that they are fully responsible for the products that they sell and they cannot escape their liability in case the product turns out to be defective or causes an injury as a result. This applies to imported fans also.