consumers beware!
Redress for shoddy goods and services
Pushpa Girimaji 

Recently, I changed the flooring of my house. However, within a year, the granite flooring developed stains: large blotches that look as if some oil or dirty water has been spilt on the floor and they refuse to go away and look ugly. Since I paid a lot of money for it, I want the dealer to replace the defective granite with defect-free ones, at his cost. But the dealer who made such big promises about the quality of the granite is now not responding to my complaints. How do I go about getting redress?

Write a formal letter to the dealer (registered post, acknowledgement due; you can also e-mail a letter and keep a printout of it) informing him of the problem and ask him to change the flooring immediately and at his cost. If he fails to comply , you will have to file a complaint before the consumer forum, seeking a refund of the amount that you spent on the granite and in laying it, including the cost of material and labour. In addition, you should ask for compensation for the inconvenience and mental harassment caused as a consequence of the poor quality stone supplied.

But before you do that, take some pictures of the flooring, showing the spots. Get a person who is knowledgeable about these stones to examine the floor and give you his opinion on what is wrong with the quality. It would be even better if you can get the opinion of one more expert .

The pictures and the expert opinion, along with your complaint to the dealer and his response (if any) and the bills showing the amount that you spent on the flooring would be an essential component of your complaint. In addition, if you have any brochures or advertisements of the dealer, extolling the virtues of his product, that would also add value to your complaint, as it shows that the dealer was making false claims about the product, which is an unfair trade practice. He is also guilty of selling a defective product

I wanted to change the flooring of my house and therefore went to choose some ceramic floor tiles for the purpose. I was told that before laying them, I have to open all the boxes and examine each and every one of them and if I found any discrepancy in the colour or design I can change the tiles. However, once they are laid, the company will not change it, whatever the reason. The boxes also say that "The company shall bear no liability after the tiles are fixed". What if the quality is poor and it shows up only after a few months? Does that mean that I will not be entitled to any relief?

This is a totally unfair condition and cannot be forced on consumers. First of all, the manufacturer has a responsibility to ensure that all the tiles in a box are of the same colour and design. If they are not, then they are defective and the manufacturer has to take responsibility for it. Again, if there is a deficiency in the quality of the tiles and it shows up only after laying the tiles, he cannot use this unilateral condition to deny you your right of redress.

So do not worry about it, but you can write to the manufacturer and point out that such conditions are anti-consumer and unfair

I must also mention here that generally in the tile business, the maximum retail price (MRP) indicated is exaggerated. (The traders say that they have to pay a 'cut' to civil contractors, architects, etc and hence ask manufacturers to provide for it in the MRP) So bargain hard and bring down the price.