1 Sep 2023 9:30 AM GMT
Recently, the Hyderabad District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission–I bench comprising of B. Uma Venkata Subba Lakshmi (President), C. Lakshmi Prasanna (Member) and Narayan Reddy (Member) found Hindustan Health Mart (“HHM”) liable for selling a defective pulse oximeter, which failed to function properly, causing trouble for the complainant during the Covid-19 pandemic....
Recently, the Hyderabad District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission–I bench comprising of B. Uma Venkata Subba Lakshmi (President), C. Lakshmi Prasanna (Member) and Narayan Reddy (Member) found Hindustan Health Mart (“HHM”) liable for selling a defective pulse oximeter, which failed to function properly, causing trouble for the complainant during the Covid-19 pandemic. The bench acknowledged HHM's position as a retailer but emphasized that, by selling the product, HHM assumed a responsibility for the quality and functionality of the product sold.
Mr. A. Sanjeeva Reddy (“Complainant”), a 43-year-old legal professional residing in Tarnaka, Hyderabad, purchased a pulse oximeter from Hindustan Health Mart (“HHM”) located in Secunderabad on July 20, 2020. Priced at 1,600 INR, the oximeter was meant to aid in monitoring oxygen levels, a crucial tool during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, upon using the oximeter at home, the complainant discovered that it was not functioning as expected.
The complainant promptly communicated the issue to HHM, seeking a resolution. His efforts, however, were met with frustration as HHM offered him a replacement oximeter of lower value. Unwilling to settle for a lower-priced alternative, the complainant demanded a full refund for the defective product. HHM, on the other hand, contended that they were merely retailers and bore no responsibility for the product's functionality or warranty. They suggested that the complainant should address his concerns with the manufacturer instead.
Aggrieved, the complainant filed a consumer complaint in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Hyderabad-I (“District Commission”). The complainant firmly contended that HHM's offer of replacing the malfunctioning oximeter with a lower-priced alternative was inadequate and unsatisfactory. He demanded a complete refund for the defective product. Furthermore, the complainant alleged that HHM's actions seemed to indicate a deliberate intention to sell faulty merchandise to consumers, causing significant mental distress.
HHM counter-argued that they operated solely as retailers and not as manufacturers of the pulse oximeter in question. They emphasized their role as intermediaries, selling products as received from manufacturers, and asserted that they held no control over the quality of the product or its warranty terms. HHM defended their position by explaining that they offered a replacement oximeter of lesser value as a gesture of goodwill, despite their lack of responsibility for the product's defects. They maintained that the complainant’s claims should be directed towards the manufacturer, as the product's functionality and warranty fell under the purview of the manufacturer rather than the retailer. HHM adamantly denied any intention of deceiving customers and argued that the complainant’s claims were unsubstantiated and contrary to their role as retailers.
Observations by the Commission:
The District Commission noted that the complainant’s purchase of the oximeter was made in good faith, with an implicit expectation of functional performance, given the nature of the product and its relevance during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The District Commission acknowledged HHM's position as a retailer but emphasized that, by selling the product, HHM assumed a responsibility for the quality and functionality of the product sold. The District Commission rejected the notion that the retailer could absolve itself of this responsibility by directing the complainant to the manufacturer. It held that, as a retailer, HHM functioned as an agent of the manufacturer and therefore bore an obligation to ensure that the products it sold met the promised standards.
The District Commission concurred with the complainant’s argument that the malfunctioning of the oximeter within a short span after purchase suggested a manufacturing defect. Hence, it held HHM accountable for offering a defective product. The District Commission rejected HHM's claim of acting in goodwill by offering a lower-priced replacement, as it failed to address the primary concern of a functional oximeter.
Furthermore, the District Commission deemed HHM's partial refund and its refusal to refund the remaining amount unacceptable. It deemed the retailer's actions as deficient service, causing mental distress to the complainant.
Case: A. Sanjeeva Reddy vs M/s. Hindustan Healthmart
Case No.: Consumer Case No.589 OF 2022
Advocate for the Complainant: A. Govinda Reddy
Advocate for the Respondent: Ashish Samat
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