Even the best companies in the world cannot avoid the occasional snafu in the quality of their products or services. The smart ones ensure that they have an efficient redress mechanism in place to ensure customer satisfaction and continued loyalty. Things get complicated when the customer is rebuffed at this stage. What is the next step? Which is the best forum to ensure quick redress? What will it cost? And is it worth the effort? It is the confusion over these decisions which discourages most consumers from filing complaints. Here are a few committed organisations that would guide and advise you on the most effective redressal mechanism to suit your objective.
Consumer Education and Research Centre (www.cercindia.org):This is an Ahmedabad-based NGO that has worked on protecting the rights and interests of consumers through redressal, advocacy, research and media exposure for over 28 years. You can register your problems on this website by becoming a member by paying a fee. It has a formidable success record and also helps consumers to file appropriate litigation. Its website posts interesting success stories that encourage consumers to sign up as members. It also publishes a useful magazine called Insight and also has a product-testing laboratory.
Consumer Guidance Society of India (http://www.cgsiindia.org): It was set up in 1966 and has a long record of consumer advocacy, grievance redressal and also offers guidance on filing lawsuits in consumer courts. It publishes a consumer magazine called Keemat. Its website has a forum that offers a step-by-step guide on how to file complaints to make them effective. A ‘Know Your Rights’ section provides different problem scenarios and how to deal with them. People are encouraged to become members to avail of a slew of benefits including access to its library and other data.
Consumer Voice (http://www.consumer-voice.in): Delhi-based Consumer Voice is a consumer advocacy group that also publishes a magazine by the same name as well as an e-newsletter. It informs and educates consumers about their rights and advises on grievance redressal. It has a strong comparative product section and is among the few NGOs that openly offers ‘best buy’ suggestions for a range of products which have been tested and verified. It allows consumers to register their complaints online and also provides a complaint status. It has a discussion forum that is, however, not very active.
The Consumer Coordination Council (http://www.corecentre.co.in): It is a government organisation that was set up with the support of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and tries to bring together all the consumer organisations. It also has its own complaint registration section but sees its role as being one of information gathering on consumer-related issues, empowering consumer groups and influencing policy.
The International Consumer Rights Protection Council (http://www.icrpc.org): This is an NGO that helps consumers file complaints against companies, irrespective of their country of residence. It has a discussion forum that allows people to discuss the quality of products and services of different companies. It also provides an accurate and detailed procedure for filling out consumer complaints and cases against companies.
www.watchoutinvestors.com: The website funded by the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is a registry covering nearly 90,000 entities including companies, intermediaries and individuals who have been indicted for an economic default and/or have been non-compliant of laws/guidelines and/or are no longer in the specified activity. It covers the orders of several regulatory and enforcement agencies as well as stock exchanges. It also has crucial information on name changes by all corporate entities and individuals.
www.mouthshut.com: This is an interesting review site. It does not help resolve grievances, but because of the high level of activity and reviews posted by consumers and users, it provides an excellent feedback mechanism for anyone who wants to crosscheck information before opting for a wide range of new products or services listed on the site. You can even check movie and music reviews posted by viewers if you are among those who think that most media critics are too critical!