Consumer Commission asks company to replace water purifying plant at Army unit

A Bandra consumer disputes redressal commission has directed a company dealing in water purifying plants to replace their plant which stopped working seven months into being installed at an army unit housing defence personnel in Kandivali or to give a refund with 15 percent interest.

It also directed the company to pay compensation and costs of Rs. 20,000. A Subedar with the Central Ordnance Depot in Kandivali had approached the commission in August last year seeking a replacement of the device for which the army had paid over 3 lakhs or a refund. The unit also demanded Rs. 6.3 lakhs as compensation for making arrangements for providing drinking water to 300 jawans living at the unit when the plant stopped working suddenly.

As per the complaint, the unit had been approached by the company in May 2018 and the plant was installed in October that year. However, within seven months it had stopped working while still under the warranty period of one year. The technicians from the company informed it that the issue lay in a faulty membrane. The company was however not prepared to repair or replace the part and claimed that the faulty part falls under the category of ‘consumables’ and that the complainant will have to pay for it.

The unit sent the company a legal notice. To this it replied apparently denying all responsibility and refusing to repair or replace the membrane. It stated that the membrane if used regularly, wears out and its life depends on the water it is processing.

To the commission’s notice, the company did not remain present and the body passed an ex-parte order against it.

In its order the commission said that the question arises why the company could not make an evaluation of the proper membrane needed to be used in the RO plant which needs to process water for 300 persons. It also opined that the membrane should fall under the head of ‘standard accessories’ for which there should be warranty provided.

Further, it said that the response given by the company to the complainant’s legal notice is “feeble” and “with an intention to avoid their responsibility”. The order stated that “either opposite party has installed a sub-standard RO plant without doing proper evaluation of the kind of membrane or other accessories that would be needed…for 300 defense personnel, or are now cooking up the membrane and consumables excuse to avoid their liability”. It also said that the fact that the plant stopped doing its main job within seven months of being installed raises a serious doubt about the quality of product installed and stated that “attempting to wash their hands off” from servicing the faults arisen within such a short period of time would constitute deficiency of service.

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