3 Oct 2023 5:00 AM GMT
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Ganjam, Berhampur bench comprising Satish Kumar Panigrahi (President) held Flipkart liable for unfair trade practices for cancelling the order without the consent of the complainant. The bench noted that Flipkart listed the product at a discounted rate, accepted the complainant's order, and later cancelled it without...
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Ganjam, Berhampur bench comprising Satish Kumar Panigrahi (President) held Flipkart liable for unfair trade practices for cancelling the order without the consent of the complainant. The bench noted that Flipkart listed the product at a discounted rate, accepted the complainant's order, and later cancelled it without a valid explanation. This behaviour was misleading and unfair to the consumer.
Brief Facts of the Case:
Mr Gandhi Behera, a resident of Singipur, Ganjam, ordered a pair of Adidas Runstunner M running shoes through the Flipkart mobile app on July 20, 2022. The shoes were initially priced at Rs 4,999 but were listed at a discounted rate of Rs 975. Mr. Behera placed the order with the expectation of receiving the product at the stated price. However, to his disappointment, Flipkart cancelled his order the very next day without providing any valid reasons or obtaining his consent. This cancellation left Mr. Behera frustrated and inconvenienced.
In response to the cancellation, Mr. Behera attempted to reach out to Flipkart's customer care to seek clarification and obtain details of the seller. Unfortunately, his efforts proved futile, as the customer support team offered no assistance and refused to address his concerns regarding the abrupt order cancellation. Feeling aggrieved and facing a lack of resolution from Flipkart's end, Mr Behera decided to escalate the matter.
He sought assistance from the National Consumer Helpline, which advised him to file a formal complaint with the local consumer court. Acting upon this guidance, Mr Behera approached the Ganjam District Consumer Court and initiated proceedings against Flipkart, accusing the e-commerce company of unfair and deceptive trade practices, including misleading offers and unauthorized order cancellations. He alleged that Flipkart had caused him mental distress due to its actions.
Flipkart contended that it was an online marketplace that facilitated transactions between independent third-party sellers and customers. The company stated that the product in question was sold by a third-party seller, Bhumika Highstreet India Private Limited and Flipkart played the role of an intermediary in the transaction. Flipkart argued that it had no direct involvement in the cancellation of Mr Behera's order, as it was the seller who cancelled the order for unforeseen reasons. The company maintained that it had communicated the seller's explanation to Mr Behera and had even credited Rs 150 to his account as a token of apology.
Observations by the Commission:
The District Commission noted that Mr Gandhi Behera had placed an order for a pair of Adidas Runstunner M running shoes through Flipkart's mobile app. This action constituted the acceptance of an offer presented by Flipkart, allowing him to purchase the product at the listed discounted price of Rs. 975. Furthermore, Flipkart confirmed the order via email, which indicated that Mr Behera had indeed accepted the offer, categorizing him as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
One significant issue that the District Commission identified was the cancellation of Mr. Behera's order by Flipkart just one day after its confirmation, without obtaining the complainant's consent. Such unilateral cancellation, the District Commission found, constituted a deficiency in service and a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
The District Commission also emphasized that Flipkart's actions in this case amounted to unfair trade practices. The company had listed the product at a discounted rate, accepted the complainant's order, and later cancelled it without providing a valid explanation. This behaviour was deemed misleading and unfair to the consumer.
Consequently, the District Commission ordered Flipkart to pay compensation of Rs. 15,000 to Mr Behera for the mental and physical distress he had endured. Additionally, Flipkart was ordered to pay Rs. 5,000 as litigation costs to Mr. Behera. The total amount of Rs. 20,000 was to be handed over to Mr Behera within 45 days from the date of receiving the Commission's order. The Commission further directed Flipkart to strictly adhere to Regulation 5(3)(a) of the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, and provide all necessary information to consumers in a clear and accessible manner on its website platform.
Case Title: Sri Gandhi Behera vs. Flipkart Internet Private Limited
Case No.: CC/88/2022
Advocate for the Complainant/Respondent: Through SELF for the Complainant
Advocate for the Appellant/Insurance Company: Through Mr. Silla Rajgopal Rao, Advocate Opp. Party
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