A quick guide to Consumer Protection Act 1986

1. Who is a consumer?

a. A person who buys any goods or avails services for a consideration which has been paid for or partly paid for or promised or partly promised or any other form of deferred form of payment.

b. Those who use the goods with the approval of the buyer is also considered as a consumer.

Those who obtain goods for resale or for commercial purposes are excluded and not considered as a consumer under Consumer Protection Act.

2. Who can file complaint?

a. A consumer as described above can file a complaint.

b. A registered voluntary consumer organisation/association who has been given necessary power/authority by the aggrieved consumer.

c. The Central or State Governments.

d. One or more consumers who have the same interest.

3. What are the nature of complaints that can be filed under this act?

a. An unfair trade practice adopted by a trader or service provider.

b. A restrictive trade practice adopted by a trader or service provider.

c. Complaint for deficiency in services that are availed or hired by a consumer.

d. Charging for goods in excess of a price that is fixed by any law or price displayed on the goods.

e. Complaints regarding hazardous goods sold in contravention of law (without properly displaying information about the goods and its usage.

4. Some major services that come under the purview of CPA:

Banking, Financing, Insurance, Medical Services, Transport, Electricity, Housing/Construction, Education

Services that are offered free of charge or under a contract of personal service do not come under the purview of CPA

5. Where to complaint?

a. District Consumer Forum: For complaints whose value of goods, services and compensation (if any) does not exceed Rs.20 lakhs.

b. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: For complaints whose value of goods, services and compensation (if any) exceeds Rs.20 lakhs but below Rs.1 crore.

Appeals against the orders of District Consumer Forum can be filed with the State Commission.

c. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission: For complaints whose value of goods, services and compensation (if any) exceeds Rs.1 crore.

Appeals against the orders of State Commission.

6. Time limit for filing a complaint:

Complaint should be filed within a period of two years from the date of cause of action. A complaint filed after the two-year period may be accepted provided the complainant is able to satisfy the Commission with sufficient reasons for not filing the complaint within the stipulated period.

7. Decision Time:

Every complaint shall be heard as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to decide the complaint within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by opposite party where the complaint does not require analysis or testing of commodities and within five months if it requires analysis or testing of commodities.

The above prescribed time is, however, subject to adjournments with sufficient cause and reasons for granting such adjournment.

8. Frivolous and Vexatious Complaints:

If the complaint filed found to be frivolous and vexatious, the Commission can dismiss the complaint and order the Complainant to pay the opposite party upto a sum of Rs.10,000/- as specified in the order.