Monday, 19 September 2016

CONSUMER AS KING - Courier company should return consignment if not delivered
Jehangir B Gai

Courier services are more popular in urban areas, but of ten lack the profes sionalism of the postal department.Case Study: Captain Vinit Bindal of Indian Army, was posted at Tinsukhia in Arunachal Pradesh. He wanted all his original academic and technical qualification certificates. His father, Deep Chand Gupta sent them through Trackon Couriers who charged Rs 43.
When the consignment was When the consignment was not delivered even after a week, Gupta inquired and also sent a written complaint, which yielded no response. Gupta inquired with the educational authorities about issuance of duplicate certificates. He was informed that duplicates could be issued at a charge of Rs1,500 per document, and would take time too. Gupta filed a complaint against Trackon Courier before the district forum, alleging negligence and deficiency in service.He sought a direction to the courier company to return the original documents which had been couriered. He also claimed damages of Rs 70,000.
Trackon contested the case, stating that the consignment could not be delivered as Bindal was located in the Armed Forces area where private couriers are not allowed. The courier claimed that at the time of accepting the booking of the consignment, Gupta had stated that his son would collect the consignment from Trackon's office at Itanagar within 30 days. Since Bindal had failed to collect it within the stipulated period, Trackon said that it had destroyed the consignment.
The Ambala district forum observed that the courier had failed to produce any evidence to show that the consignment had been booked on the condition that Vinit would have to collect it from their office. So it refused to accept Trackon's defence.The forum also observed that Trackon's reply made it evident that the company was fully aware that the consignment had to be delivered in a military area where courier entry was prohibited. The Forum held that the acceptance of the consignment for delivery in a non-serviceable location constituted an unfair trade practice. So it ordered the courier company to pay a lumpsum amount of Rs 65,000 towards expenses for obtaining duplicates of 13 documents and for causing harassment and tension. Additionally , litigation costs of Rs10,000 were also awarded. Compliance of the order was to be made within 30 days, else it would carry 12% interest for the period of delay.
Trackon challenged this or der in appeal. The Haryana State Commission observed that the courier ought to have returned the consignment to the sender as the delivery address was located in a nonservicable area.The state commission dismissed it.
The courier company challenged these orders through a revision petition. The National Commission questioned the co urier company why it had not responded to Gupta's complaints. The courier company was also questioned why the consignment was not returned to Gupta even though his address was available with the company .
So the National Commission, through its order of September 14 delivered by Rekha Gupta for the Bench along with Anup Thakur, held that the courier company had rightly been held liable for negligence, deficiency in service, and unfair trade practice. the order passed in Gupta's favour was upheld.
A courier must appreciate that a consignment can contain something valuable, and must return it to the sender if it cannot be delivered.
(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India's National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is

Source::: Sep 19 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai). p.09.

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