This might not be earth-shattering news and has the potential to do little in terms of tarnishing the image of Mercedes-Benz, one of the largest luxury car makers, but it definitely has brought a frown on quite a few faces. In a recent report it was revealed that Mercedes-Benz and one of its outlets in the southern city of Chennai have been penalized by the National Consumer Commission for a sum of Rs 2 lakhs in lieu of damages to a consumer for duping him with a demo car sale.
According to the CPA (Consumer Protection Act) selling of a car used as demo without notifying the customer is tantamount to unfair practice in trade. The commission added that any sham representation of renovated, reconditioned, second-hand and rebuilt or old goods as fresh goods, with the intention of propping up sales thereof, is tantamount to unfair practice in trade and the sufferer ought to be remunerated. This was said by the bench of judges at NCDRC Vinay Kumar and Justice R K Batta while giving the verdict for compensation. The report gave the details of the complainant who was an executive in a private firm, Mr. Mukund Reddy who had purchased an E 250 D model of Mercedes-Benz car from the luxury car manufacturer’s dealer Trans Cars India Ltd, in the year 1998 from Chennai. Before long after purchase of the vehicle, Mr. Mukund Reddy, Managing partner of Techno Mukund Construction a Chennai based company, noticed discoloration of the doors and bubbles all across the surface of the car and also a discoloration at the rear hatch resulting in the peeling off of the paint. Malfunctioning of the stereo system was also witnessed. It was later known by him that the car he bought was a used car which had been shunted that necessitated complete painting and repairing. Mr. Mukund Reddy, through correspondence, asked the company office and the dealership in Pune to replace the car with a brand new vehicle as it was an apparent case of paucity in service.
The report further mentioned that the National Consumer Commission however held the grievance in terms of music system and paint of the car that have been properly attended to with substitution of the stereo system and repainting devoid of any additional cost to the plaintiff. And hence it was not billed as a case pertaining to paucity in service. The highest tribunal also denied to order to substitute the old for a new one with a rationale that the case of an automobile which is a victim of manufacturing defects that would render it unusable.
Admittedly the car has been already used for a mileage of 1, 85,000 km. another bone of contention that was brushed aside by the tribunal was that the car was sold to the firm and therefore was used for commercial purposes and does not fall under the jurisdiction of CPA.
The bench came to a conclusion that the car was used by Mr. Mukund Reddy for going and coming to his workplace and not for any commercial activity directly related to earn profit. Categorizing it as a case of plaintiff being a victim of trade practices which are unfair, the tribunal ordered Mercedes-Benz India and its Chennai-based dealership to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakhs to the complainant.