An inverter that I had purchased six months ago suddenly caught fire. It did not cause extensive damage, but it did destroy a closeby book case, some valuable books, some windows and some portion of the wall of my house. I want the manufacturer to pay for my losses, but I have lost the cash memo as well as the warranty card. Can I file a complaint before the consumer court without it? I have a report from the fire service, identifying the source of the fire as the inverter.
I have often emphasised in my columns, the importance of collecting the cash receipt at the time of purchase. I would also like to underscore, in response to your question, the need for keeping it safe. Consumers often realise this only when something goes wrong with what they have bought. I am not saying this with reference to electric and electronic goods only. I have come across consumers who have found the clothes that they have purchased to be defective, after a wash, but are unable to get redress because they have not preserved the receipt.
In your case, you may have the fire officer’s certificate pinpointing the inverter as the source of the fire, but without the cash memo, there is no proof that you purchased it or from whom you bought it, how much you paid for it or when you bought it. In fact, the date on the receipt is important to prove that the inverter was only six months old.
I must also highlight the fact that many shop keepers issue a kaccha receipt (the amount paid scrawled on a paper). This is again not a valid proof if it does not have the name and address of the seller, details of the product such as the brand name and the model number, date of purchase and the signature of the seller. Unfortunately, consumers in India continue to buy goods without a receipt or with a useless kaccha receipt . And even when they do collect a valid receipt, many do not preserve them, as required.
Let me quote R. Sarto Irudayaraj Vs Sivanesan & Company and Another (Revision Petition No 2946 of 2012, decided on May 21, 2013) to highlight the importance of a cash receipt.
The complaint in this case centered around the bursting of a pressure cooker, injuring the wife of the petitioner. In response to the complaint filed by the couple, seeking reimbursement of medical expenses totalling Rs 35,000 and compensation of Rs 2 lakh, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed the manufacturer to pay Rs 55,505. However, this was set aside by the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, on the ground that the consumers had not produced the cash memo as proof of purchase.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, too, upheld this view of the State Commission and dismissed the revision petition filed by the consumer. While doing so, the Commission pointed out that “….the cash memo, as a proof for the purchase of the pressure cooker is a very crucial document in the whole scenario, but the same has not been produced by the petitioners and no reasons have been given as to why it could not be produced”.
The Commission also pointed out that while earlier, the revision petitioner had said in three letters that he had purchased the pressure cooker in December 1998, later it was claimed that it was purchased in December 1997. Again, while the complainants claimed that the pressure cooker was of 7.5 litre capacity, the guarantee card said it was of six litre capacity. “It becomes clear from the above facts that the petitioners/complainants have failed to prove that they had purchased the same cooker which had exploded. We agree with the arguments taken by the State Commission that a complainant becomes a consumer only when he proves beyond doubt that the purchase was made by him and the sale consideration, date of purchase and description of goods is clearly stated”.
Is it not the responsibility of the shop keeper to issue a receipt?
It certainly is. But since it provides the proof of purchase, the consumer should demand it as a matter of right, get it and keep it safe.
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