20 Nov 2023 12:00 PM GMT
The Hyderabad District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-III bench presided by Sri. M. Ram Gopal Reddy along with Smt. J. Shyamala (Member) and Sri R. Narayan Reddy (Member) held MakeMyTrip liable for deficiency in Service for failing to refund a significant amount to a complainant. The complainant booked four flight tickets through MakeMyTrip for a trip to the USA, but due...
The Hyderabad District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-III bench presided by Sri. M. Ram Gopal Reddy along with Smt. J. Shyamala (Member) and Sri R. Narayan Reddy (Member) held MakeMyTrip liable for deficiency in Service for failing to refund a significant amount to a complainant. The complainant booked four flight tickets through MakeMyTrip for a trip to the USA, but due to COVID-19, the flights got canceled. Despite numerous requests, MakeMyTrip delayed refunding the amount to the complainant's wallet, which remained unresolved from 2020 onwards.
The Commission found that this delay in refunding the amount to the complainant amounted to deficiency in service and unfair trade practices. As a result, the Commission directed MakeMyTrip to refund the entire amount along with interest, compensation, and legal costs.
Mr. Ganji Kailash Chander (Complainant), a businessman from Secunderabad, booked four flight tickets for a family trip to the United States through the website “www.Makemytrip.com” on February 7, 2020, paying a total of Rs. 3,18,897/-. Later, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flights were canceled. The company, without Kailash’s consent or clear information, initiated a refund to their Make My Trip wallet. However, even after persistent attempts and assurances from customer care, the refund of the amount was not reflected in the wallet. Kailash also sent a legal notice seeking a refund with interest but received no response. Left with no other recourse, he finally approached the commission seeking a refund of Rs. 3,18,987/- with interest and costs.
Arguments of MakeMyTrip
MakeMytrip (Opposite Party No. 1) stated that they're a reputable travel company with various offices in India and a branch in the USA. According to them, the complaint was baseless and misleading, claiming it to be an abuse of legal processes. They argued that there was no deficiency in their service. They clarified that they acted as an intermediary between the complainant and the airline, facilitating the booking with the money received. As per them, they informed the complainant about flight cancellations due to COVID-19 and also offered a flexible tour option or a refund to his MakeMyTrip wallet.
MakeMytrip insisted that the complainant's refund of Rs. 3,09,261/- was processed to his wallet and could be used for future bookings. Further, they relied on cases like Bharathi Knitting Co., Vs. DHL Worldwide Express Courier (1996) 4 SCC 704 emphasizing that terms and conditions agreed upon at booking should bind both parties, indicating that these disputes should be resolved through civil courts, not consumer forums. Additionally, they also showed their willingness to transfer the amount from the wallet to the complainant's bank account.
Arguments by the Airlines
Emirates Airline (Opposite Party No.2) argued that the complaint made by the passenger is beyond the time limit specified under the Carriage by Air Act, 1972 which governs air travel. They claimed that this special law takes precedence over general laws, including the Consumer Protection Act and the Limitation Act, in matters related to air travel. They insisted there was no service deficiency from their end, as they had already refunded the cost of the tickets to MakeMytrip (Opposite Party No.1) on July 22, 2020. According to them, the responsibility to pass on the refund to the passenger lies with the travel agent, and any queries about why the refund was not credited to the passenger's MakeMyTrip wallet or why the refund wasn't directly issued should be directed to MakeMytrip. They clarified that their part in the matter was completed by refunding the amount to MakeMytrip and stated that no further claim should be made against them in this case.
Observations of the Commission
The Hyderabad Commission found that MakeMyTrip's refusal to refund the money was unfair and constituted both a deficiency in their service and unfair trade practice. As a result, they ordered MakeMyTrip to refund Rs. 3,18,987/- with 12% interest from the booking date, along with compensation of Rs. 50,000/- and costs of Rs. 5,000/-. Additionally, punitive damages of Rs. 10,000/- were to be paid to the Consumer Legal aid account. They were given 45 days to comply with this order. Complaint against Emirates Airlines was dismissed as they had already refunded the amount to MakeMyTrip, absolving them of any lability.
Case Title: Mr. Ganji Kailash Chander vs. MakeMyTrip & Ors.
Counsel for the Complainant: M/s. DMR Law Chamber & Associates, Advocates.
Counsel for the Opposite Party No.1: Smt. M.A. Madhumathi, Advocate.
Counsel for the Opposite Party No.2: Ritu Singh Mann Kawashaw Jagose & Nethan Reddy, Advocates.
Click Here to Read/Download the Order