The courts are now-a-days flooded with a large number of consumer dispute. The lack of certainty in time and cost involved, number of travels, mysterious status of the cases and uncertain verdict haunts all the parties involved in the litigation. Most importantly, the cost of litigation and the inflation caused due to delayed verdict may make the compensation claimed inappropriate even if fully allowed (granted). The appeals and the execution of the order begin another line of proceedings. Factually, the number of the businesses and the goods and services provided by them are ever increasing and so the cases are increased proportionately. This paves way for other options such as alternative dispute resolution in India and more importantly online dispute resolution. The same fact has to be looked into from different angles for better understanding.
FROM CONSUMER PERSPECTIVE
A customer can be an individual or an entity. An individual cannot afford the cost and time involved in litigation and may decide to waive the right as a customer due to lack of timely and effective justice rendering mechanism prevailing in the country.
Most consumer disputes arise due to defective goods or deficiency of service combined with poor customer care service by the person providing goods and/or services. The misunderstanding can be easily remedied through open-minded discussion between the parties. Though contract forms the basis of all rights and duties, an entity as a consumer demands performance of contractual duties and methodically claims its rights with its experience and a separate legal wing for this purpose. However, the same is primarily applicable to the traditional institution but the start-ups may be in a position similar to that of an individual for various reasons.
FROM SELLER’S PERSPECTIVE
From the angel of the seller or service provider, the consumer dispute is always a costly affair unless a separate legal team is constituted for this purpose. This may also lead to loss of reputation in the market which may even extend to cause doubts on the genuinity of the goods and/or services of the entity.
It is advisable for the small businesses to settle the matter amicably to avoid further friction and insecurity. The compensation claimed in the consumer courts are generally exaggerated and can be mostly settled without much financial pinch taking into consideration the uncertainty on litigation cost, travel cost, waiting for the court’s verdict etc.
In addition to the above, current trend of e-commerce business creating a platform for various persons whose identity are unknown has both the buyers and sellers as customers. Though it may be claimed to be a mere platform, it provides ‘intermediary service’ as per law and can be sued for deficiency of service.
Taking into consideration the difficulties faced by the individual and the small and medium-sized business enterprises, it is advisable to amicably settle the matter through online dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration rather than time-consuming costly court proceedings which only an established enterprise can afford.