According to the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Ernakulam, issuing bills or receipts with poor printing quality qualifies as both a “unfair trade practice” and a “deficiency of service” under the Consumer Protection Act.
A consumer forum in Kerala has noted that, as per the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, issuing bills or receipts with poor printing quality is considered a “deficiency of service” and a “unfair trade practice.”
The Kerala State Department of Consumer Affairs ordered in July 2019 that all government, public, and private entities provide bills that are both readable and long-lasting. This was noted by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at Ernakulam.
The department points out that, in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, issuing bulls with poor printing quality may be considered a “deficiency of service” and a “unfair trade practice.” Therefore, in order to ensure the bills’ longevity and readability, all government, public sector, and private organizations in Kerala are required to print them legibly on premium paper with superior ink,” the commission said.
The commission also pointed out that the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 and the Consumer Protection (General) Rules, 2020 both require proper receipts.
It continued by emphasising how important it is to have readable and unambiguous terms and conditions in order to safeguard consumers’ rights, saying,
“It is imperative that this be included in order to protect the rights of consumers to know the costs of the goods and services they buy or hire. Additionally, it gives them the documentation they need to prove, in Consumer Commission cases, that they did, in fact, purchase the goods or engage in services from the designated trader or service provider.”
A bench made up of V Ramachandran, Sreevidhia TN, and President DB Binu passed the order.
The commission made these findings while reviewing a complaint that MS Sajeev Kumar, a lawyer, filed after his Reliance Digital store purchase of an HP laptop began to malfunction. After getting in touch with Reliance Digital, he was sent to an HP authorized service center, where his keyboard was fixed. But after a few months, the laptop’s performance declined.
According to Kumar, the service center refused his requests to replace the laptop, citing a 14-day replacement policy. He claimed that the laptop should have been replaced because it was still under warranty—one year—in his complaint to the consumer forum.
For this reason, he asked HP for ₹1 lakh in compensation as well as ₹25,000 to cover the cost of the legal action.
The consumer forum became aware of the shoddy printed tax invoice while reviewing the documentation that Kumar had provided.
The court concluded that there was no reason to reject Kumar’s claims because HP, Reliance Digital, and the service center did not submit their versions despite receiving notice.
As a result, it issued an ex parte order instructing HP to swap the laptop for a brand-new model that Kumar had bought. Should a replacement be unattainable, the purchase price will be reimbursed. Additionally, it instructed HP to print bills that are readable and long-lasting using high-quality paper and printing ink.
Kumar suffered mental anguish, physical hardships, lost wages, and inconvenience. HP, Reliance Digital, and the service center were ordered to pay ₹50,000 for their unfair trade practices and service deficiencies. An additional ₹20,000 was mandated to be settled as litigation costs.
These two payments were deemed to be the joint and several liability of the three parties.