Info-tech

Feeling cheated by an enterprise? Let the online helpers take over

Sangeetha Chengappa | | Updated on: Sep 03, 2018
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Sites such as IamCheated, JagoGrahakJago, MouthShut help consumers be heard

Gowtham MD ordered study material that would help him prepare for the Civil Services examination from Notesduniya.com. He neither received acknowledgement for his ₹900 payment, nor any intimation on when the material will land. After several failed attempts at calling and emailing Notesduniya, he posted a complaint on IamCheated.com.

Similarly, when Dilip RamBhau Nagare, a customer of DHFL Housing Loan who was paying his EMIs regularly wanted to foreclose the loan, his emails and calls to DHFL went unanswered, so he turned to JagoGrahakJago.com for help. Both Gowtham and Nagare’s complaints were successfully resolved.

Aggrieved consumers across the country are increasingly turning to consumer complaint, redressal and awareness portals — like IamCheated.com, JagoGrahakJago, MouthShut.com, Consumer VOICE, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, Consumer Psyche, CUTS International and Lost & Found — to resolve issues. The issues, again, are wide-ranging. It could be a faulty product, receiving a brick instead of a mobile phone from an e-tailer, or losing a pet or important documents.

E-commerce related complaints form the bulk of queries on most portals at present, followed by builder/developer, financial service provider and product-related issues.

Founder CEO of IndianMoney.com, CS Sudheer, launched IamCheated.com, a free consumer complaint portal, last year to help resolve complaints of those who have been defrauded by a brand or company. The complaints are immediately sent to the concerned brand/company for resolution and also linked to their Twitter handle and Facebook page. Consumers usually hear back from the brand/company in less than five working days.

Pooja Khaitan, Head, Consumer Redressal, JagoGrahakJago.com which has received 86,40,725 complaints over the last six years, said the site resolves around 95,000 of the 1,20,000 complaints it receives every month. The site has a database of over 2.5 lakh companies. Consumer evangelist Vamshi Krishna A, who started Consumer Psyche on Facebook in 2009, said the page received 35,000-40,000 views a month and 500-600 product-related complaints a month until recently.

In the case of brands or companies that are unresponsive to these complaints, customers are often compelled to go to court and fight it out, but not many can afford the legal fees.

JagoGrahakJago has a legal team which files a PIL (public interest litigation) representing consumers with builder-related or airline-related issues among others, said Khaitan.

“We give customers the choice to connect to a lawyer for free legal advice when he/she is unsatisfied with the response from the brand/company that has defrauded them,” added IamCheated.com’s Sudheer.

Quick response

While most of these portals cannot guarantee successful resolution of every registered complaint, the silver lining is that the majority of the brands/companies do try to resolve them as early as possible.

“In over 80 per cent of the complaints, brands have taken quick action to redress grievances to protect their brand image and reputation,” observed Sudheer.

However, Bejon Misra, a consumer activist since 1983 who was on the committee that drafted India’s first Consumer Protection Act that was enacted in 1986, cautions consumers about sharing sensitive personal information on consumer complaint portals.

“A number of these consumer grievance portals are ‘for-profit’ companies who use this information for commercial gains by passing them onto brands and companies as potential customer leads. Hence, consumers must post their complaints on ‘not-for-profit’ portals, whose sole intention is to put back a smile on their faces,” Misra, who is the founder of Consumer Online Foundation, which manages JagoGrahakJago, told BusinessLine .

Published on September 03, 2018

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