District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission [DCDRC], Madurai: While considering the instant consumer complaint filed under Section 35 of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 seeking direction to Apple India Pvt. Ltd., to replace a defective laptop with a new one, the Bench of Justice N. Pari (President) and K.A. Vimala and K. Velumani (Members) held that Apple India Pvt. Ltd., by selling a defective laptop to the complainant, has attracted the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 dealing with “selling of defective goods”. The Commission thus directed Apple India to either replace the laptop with new defect free one of similar description or pay its actual value of Rs. 1,28,610 along with 12% interest + Rs 1,00,000 as compensation for the mental agony suffered by the complainant + Rs 5000 as cost of complaint, all of which roughly amounts to INR 2,33,610.
Background: The complainant bought an Apple MacBook Pro laptop on basis of the representations made by the Apple on their website. However, immediately after purchase, he experienced defects like delay in the interface and user experience along with low performance.
The complainant contacted the support team who suggested rectification in the software loaded in the laptop. However, the defects were not resolved. Furthermore, the new laptop started generating excessive heat, which caused alarm about the safety of the unit. The complainant requested another servicing, but it was not fruitful either. The laptop eventually failed to power on. The complainant was subjected considerable mental agony owing to the ineffective replies and the failure to withdraw the defective laptop by the Apple support team.
The laptop also exhibited other defects like malfunctioning keyboard, operating system crash, overheating and abrupt freezing etc. When the complainant’s laptop finally crashed and failed to respond to any input commands, he again contacted the Apple support staff, but they refused to acknowledge the manufacturing defect. After 9 months of running from pillar to post, the complainant’s case assigned to a Senior Apple Advisor who offered him to repair the laptop. Since the complainant was reliant on the laptop for his college studies and in legal and policy space, so he took up the offer of repair rather than insisting for replacement.
It was told to him that the repair would take 4-5 days, but he had to wait for long time to even hear any proper response. After lapse of many days, he received an e-mail stating that the laptop has been repaired, but when he reached the service centre, he was informed that the process has not been completed yet. After a few more days, he was allowed to retrieve his laptop. But, 9 days after the afore-stated repairs, the complainant’s laptop failed to start and seemed ‘dead’ and has not revived since.
It was thus alleged by the complainant that the Apple laptop suffered from a manufacturing defect from its inception and that he was provided misleading documents and the opposite parties suppressed the defects in bad faith. Owing to the traumatic experiences, the complainant thus filed this instant complaint seeking either replacement of the defective laptop or mental compensation for mental agony suffered.
Consolidated Pvt. Ltd., which is authorised Apple Service Centre, argued that they are just the service centre and not manufacturer of the laptop. It was argued that there was not consumer- service provider relationship between the parties. They also contended that they are bound by terms and conditions of Apple Company and that they provided service to complainant under warranty at free of cost.
Commission’s Assessment and Decision- Perusing the contentions of the parties and facts presented, the Commission noted the defects mentioned by the complainant and that the laptop failed to perform even after repairs. The Commission also noted the opposite party’s admission as to replacement of vital laptop parts like MLB, Battery etc.
The Commission pointed out that defects arose in the laptop within the warranty period and there is a duty of the opposite party to solve it at free of cost. However, since the opposite party could not solve the issues and vital parts had to be replaced; therefore, it proves that the laptop had defects and the product must be replaced.
The Commission was also of the view that Consolidated Pvt. Ltd., cannot be held liable for manufacturing of the defective laptop as their assigned task was only to repair the product to the best of their ability. The Commission however was of the view that Apple Company, the manufacturer of the defective laptop, is liable for selling defective goods. Therefore, the Commission directed Apple India to either replace the old defective laptop with a new defect free laptop of similar description or pay the laptop’s actual value along with 12 % interest; monetary compensation for mental agony suffered and costs of proceedings to the complainant.
[Mohd. Ashik S.A. v. Apple India Pvt. Ltd., CC No. 26 of 2022, decided on 28-04-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
R. Ramiz Ajmal Khan for Complainant;
S. Prabhu for 2nd O.P.