There was a TV advertisement about a product, to be used by women. I strongly felt that such advertisements should not be shown to children. What can we do to stop such ads?
Raj Shekhar, Mumbai
I suggest that you complain to the Advertising Standards Council of India, which is a well-recognised self-regulatory organisation. Also, the ASCI Code has found its place in a few of our Acts relating to Cable TV networks, Drug Controller General of India, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India etc. The ASCI initiates action within three working days after receiving the complaint. After studying the issue, it asks the advertisers concerned to remove the offending ads.
If the issue is not resolved at this level, the complaint is placed before the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) where decisions are taken by a majority of members. You can lodge your complaint on WhatsApp number 7710012345 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I ate at a restaurant that added a 10% service charge to my bill. But the services were absolutely below standard. Even the food quality was not good. Yet I was asked to pay the charge. Can a restaurant management compel patrons to pay service charges?
MS Babare, Mumbai
Restaurants cannot compel customers to pay service charge. Service charges are extra charges paid voluntarily for serving consumers. Consumers are also required to pay service tax on this service charge collected by hotels and restaurants. Making the payment of service charge compulsory amounts to Unfair Trade Practice. The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), on receiving many complaints on compulsory collection of service charges, had ordered hotels and restaurants not to levy such charges. This order has been stayed by the high court, though.
What is an unfair contract? Where can I lodge a complaint against it?
Navin Desai, Pune
As per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, an unfair contract means a contract between a manufacturer / trader / service provider on one hand, and a consumer on the other, having such terms that cause significant detrimental change to the rights of such consumers. For e.g. requiring manifestly excessive security deposits, imposing penalty on the consumer for breach of contract that is disproportionate to the loss incurred due to such breach, refusing to accept early repayment of loans, etc.
You can lodge a complaint against such unfair contracts before the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
(Dr Archana Sabnis is an expert on consumer laws who is practising at consumer disputes redressal fora at district, state and national levels since 2000. She is on the panel of conciliators of Maha RERA and is associated with the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.)