Buyers beware!

A stitch in time saves money!
Pushpa Girimaji

Pushpa GirimajiJust before Divali, I had given an expensive woollen fabric to a tailor to make a suit. However, despite charging a steep price for stitching, he has completely spoilt it. The pair of pants as well as the coat are so badly stitched and ill-fitting that despite repairs, I am unable to wear it. What are my options here?

Point out the problem to the tailor and ask him to replace your fabric and return the stitching charges or pay for the fabric and the stitching charges. If he does not comply, you will have to approach the consumer court for relief. You can use for reference, the decision of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Sri A.C.Modagi vs Cross Well Tailor and Others ( Revision Petition no 75 of 1990)

The Consumer Protection Act gives the consumer the right to seek redress against deficient services. And under the Act, the definition of 'service' is so wide that it includes all services except those rendered free of charge or for a commercial purpose. Similarly, services rendered under a 'contract of personal service' are outside the ambit of the consumer courts. . So here, the central issue was whether the services rendered by a tailor came under the purview of the consumer courts and whether a consumer can file a complaint against a tailor for deficient service.

The tailor's contention in this case was that the work done by tailors came under the category of "personal service" and therefore excluded from the purview of the consumer courts. Dismissing such an argument, the National Commission observed that a "personal service" pertained to a master and servant relationship , which was totally different from a tailor-client relationship. Unlike in a master-servant relationship, here, the tailor was independent of any supervision or control of the consumer while he was cutting the cloth or stitching it. While doing his work, the tailor was bound to obey the direction given by the consumer about the design and size , but no further. Thus, the service rendered by the tailor was a professional service and not a personal service, the apex consumer court held.

It also pointed out that it was wrong to describe the charges paid to the tailor as "wages". "A tailor charges a sum for the stitching work done by him. He is not paid the amount as wages", the consumer court clarified. It thus upheld the order of the consumer court at the district level directing the tailor to pay the consumer, the cost of the fabric plus tailoring charges, besides compensation and cost of litigation.

I had given a brand new chiffon saree to a tailor to stitch the 'fall' and when I went to collect it, the tailor told me that there was a fire in his shop as a result of which all the clothes have got burnt. He says he cannot compensate me for the loss of my saree as he has suffered heavy loss. Can I go to the consumer court? He never gave me a receipt for the saree- will it affect my case?

Whenever you give clothes for stitching, I would suggest that you always collect a receipt because one can never say when one would need it. In the absence of a receipt, it will be difficult for you to prove that you gave the tailor the saree, particularly if the tailor denies ever having accepted it. The best course open to you is to coax the tailor to compensate you. Or, see if you can get a witness (such as a friend who came with you to the tailor) to vouch for your having given the saree - through an affidavit.