consumers beware!
Replacing a defective inverter
Pushpa Girimaji Pushpa Girimaji

Due to frequent power cuts in summer, I bought an inverter last year. It is giving trouble from day one, despite repeated repairs undertaken by the company's service centre. So much so that in spite of investing in an inverter, we are unable to run the fans when there is no power supply. Since the company has not agreed to replace the defective inverter, I want to lodge a complaint before the consumer court. What kind of evidence do I need for the purpose?

First and foremost, you need to provide proof of purchase, which is the cash receipt. Second, you need to show that despite repairs, the inverter failed to work satisfactorily. Create a proper record of the dates on which you complained and the unsuccessful rectification undertaken by the dealer/manufacturer. For this, you need copies of "service receipts" or "job cards" issued by the company detailing the problem, the repairs undertaken and the parts replaced, if any. These job cards, in fact, provide crucial evidence of unsuccessful attempts at rectification made by the manufacturer/dealer. If you have written letters to the manufacturer/dealer complaining about the inverter and asking for a replacement, they will also come in handy. In fact, if you have not written such a letter, I would suggest that you write one, indicating precisely the nature of the problem and the unsuccessful attempts made by the company to rectify it.

You can also get an independent engineer to examine the inverter and issue a certificate about its defects. This will strengthen your case.

On June 11 this year, the Uttarakhand State Consumer Disptues Redressal Commission, Dehradun, looked at a somewhat similar case and directed the manufacturer to replace the defective inverter and also pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to the consumer (Luminous Power Technologies Pvt Ltd vs Kanwar Sain, FA no 426 of 2010). In this case, the complaint was that the inverter, bought on January 18, 2008 was not functioning properly from the very beginning and in November 2009, it completely stopped working. On the ground that the product was well past the one-year warranty period, the complainant was charged Rs 12,000 for repairs. Yet, it stopped functioning again after some time and this time he was told that there was nothing wrong with the inverter, but the batteries had dried up and he ought to replace them. Since he had already replaced the batteries in January 2009 on the advice of the dealer, the consumer said he was not going to spend on batteries again and the dealer ought to give him a new inverter in lieu of the defective one.

Service centre personnel deliberately delay attending to a problem and then demand exorbitant charges on the ground that the product is no more within the warranty period. How does one overcome this problem?

You can defeat such moves by recording the date on which you made a complaint. When you call up the service centre, always find out the name of the person you are speaking to. Write it down, so also the complaint number, the precise time at which you called and the date. This will help you establish any deliberate delay on the part of the service centre. I must also emphasise that whenever an engineer from the service centre attends to the complaint, you must make sure that he gives you a receipt stating the date on which he attended to your complaint, the nature of the problem and the rectification undertaken. You can also write your comments when you are asked to sign on it.