Consumer courts are beginning to touch on an increasingly wide range of matters, in part because more and more people are bringing up issues before them, as awareness grows about the rights of people who pay for a service. This, of course, is a hugely positive trend in a country where, for years, ordinary citizens have had no means to challenge companies or retailers when they are wronged or cheated.
In the latest case of this sort to be reported, a consumer court in Lahore has directed a shipping company to pay Rs40,000 as damages to the petitioner for not delivering a parcel to the UK.
The petitioner had stated that he had sent a parcel containing eight men’s suits, valued at Rs20,000 to the UK through the company but despite repeated assurances, these were not delivered on time and various excuses were made instead. The respondents initially denied the non-delivery charge, but then failed to appear in court. In its ex-parte decision, the court directed the respondent to reimburse the petitioner for the cost of the suits and pay out another Rs20,000 as damages.
Decisions along such lines are being given more often now, notably in Punjab. In the light of this development, consumer courts need to be set up or made active in other provinces as well. This task must not be neglected any longer. There is also a need to create more awareness among consumers regarding their rights. This will ensure that companies must take greater pains to guarantee that people are not fooled or that the claims they make are accurate. We still have a long way to go in this respect. But the fact that the first paces along this road have been taken are encouraging and suggest what can be achieved as the process continues. Consumers, as a group, have huge powers in other countries. They need to gather the same kind of power at home, forcing a more responsible attitude from manufacturers, sellers and service providers of all kinds, who have for years operated without any check.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2012.