Manufacturers failing to provide spare parts required for product’s proper functioning in its anticipated lifespan, constitutes unfair trade practice: DCDRC

District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (DCDRC), Ernakulam: While considering the instant complaint filed under Section 35 of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (“CPA”), wherein the complainant expressed dissatisfaction with service provided by the authorised service centre for his refrigerator; The Full Bench of D.B. Binu, (President)* and V. Ramachandran and Sreevidhia T.N (Members) held that Samsung India, upon failure to provide the necessary spare parts for repairment of the defects, exhibits a deficiency in service and engaging in restrictive trade practice under the, Section 2(41) CPA.

The Commission stated that manufacturers frequently employ enticing advertising strategies to persuade consumers to purchase their products. However, a recurring problem arises when these companies fail in their duty to provide necessary spare and consumable parts required for the product’s proper functioning throughout its anticipated lifespan. This widespread issue affects consumers across various product categories. When manufacturers decline to furnish these vital components, it effectively compels consumers to discard still-functional products. Such Conduct constitutes an unfair trade practice, as it coerces consumers into procuring replacements, thereby artificially inflating the manufacturer’s sales and profits.


In July, 2016, the complainant was persuaded by OP2 to purchase a double-door refrigerator for Rs.72,000. In April, 2021, the refrigerator started experiencing issues in cooling. After several attempts in contacting Samsung customer care services, an engineer was sent to inspect the fridge, and a potential gas leak was identified. Despite attempts at repair, the fridge’s performance did not improve. Eventually. the service centre took the refrigerator for further inspection, claiming that it could not be repaired on-site. The fridge was returned after a brief repair. However, the fridge’s condition worsened again. The complainant raised his grievance again, and this time a different engineer came and confirmed a manufacturing defect involving a gas leak within the tubes, and further offered a new fridge for a comparatively lower rate.

The complainant sought refund of Rs. 72,000 or a replacement for a new one with Rs. 20,000 as compensation for the service delay and Rs. 20,000 as compensation for mental agony and undue hardship.

Per contra, Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd. contended the complaint to be unsustainable in law and should be dismissed under Section 26 of the CPA. It was submitted that this is not a consumer dispute. The alleged defects cannot necessarily be manufacturing defects and could be due to mishandling or other rectifiable reasons The CPA requires expert opinion when defects are not visible.. They further submitted that the complainant was duly informed that the damages which occurred to the fridge were outside the warranty period. It was further argued that the, complainant never approached them for after-sales. OP1 relied on the Supreme Court ruling in , C.N. Anantharam v. Fiat India Ltd., (2011) 1 SCC 460 which held that the manufacturers are not compelled to replace a product when there is no major manufacturing defect.. Therefore, Samsung India claimed that no deficiency in service was exhibited from their side and that the complainant is not entitled to any relief.

On the other hand, OP2 contended that the complaint lacks legitimate cause of action and is time barred. It was submitted that the complainant alleging these defects after using the fridge for 5 years without any issues, is an attempt to obtain a new product unjustly. They maintain that after-sales services are responsibility of the manufacturer and claimed to not have offered any warranty or service. OP2 relied on Hindustan Motors Ltd. v. N. Siva Kumar, (2000) 10 SCC 654, to support their stance that a dealer is not liable for manufacturing defects. It was also asserted by OP2 that, there was no evidence for unfair trade practice and deficiency in service from their side, emphasizing that burden of proving rests with complainant.

Commission’s Assessment:

The Commission noted that the complainant is a consumer, as per Section (2)7 of CPA on basis of the payment receipts between the parties.

The Commission further noted that the argument put forth by OP 2 that the obligations pertaining to warranty and after-sales services lie with the manufacturer, hold merit.

The report of the independent expert commissioner confirmed that the defects did not result from normal customer usage.

The Commission accepted the complainant’s argument that opposite parties bear the responsibility of ensuring the availability of components in the market for a minimum period from the introduction of their products. The Commission observed that the complainant has claimed that the manufacturer used specific tactics to pressure the consumer into purchasing an additional product from them, which is essentially a “restricted trade practice”. The Commission pointed out that Section 2(41) of CPA, defines a “restricted trade practice” as any trade behaviour that is seen as restrictive, unfair, or deceptive.

The Commission noted that in the absence of a dedicated ‘Right to Repair law in India, instances exist where the judiciary has intervened to address related concerns. The Commission opined that Samsung India failed to provide the necessary spare parts for the product to address the defects, thereby exhibiting deficiency in services and engaging in unfair trade practice.

The Commission further opined that intentional withholding of essential and consumable spare parts by manufacturers leave consumers with limited options compelling them to abandon functional products and acquire replacements. This imposes financial burden and contributes to increase in electronic waste.

The Commission also expressed its appreciation for the complainant, who is a retired senior Indian Naval Officer. The Bench said that, “He has gone to great lengths to approach this Commission seeking justice for his legitimate rights against a multinational company. This is a commendable act, as he is creating a model for other suffering consumers against deficiency in service and unfair trade practices committed by traders”.

Thus the Commission held Samsung liable to compensate the complainant and directed them to refund Rs.36,000 and pay Rs.40,000 and Rs. 20,000 as compensation for mental distress, physical inconvenience and cost of proceedings respectively.

[Keerthi M. Kuriens v. Samsung India Electronics Pvt. Ltd., CC No. 328/2021, dated on: 30-10-2023]

*Order by D. B. Binu, President

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the First Opposite Party: Advocate K.S. Arundas

For the Second Opposite Party: Advocate T.J. Lakshmanan

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