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Andhra Pradesh - Vijayawada Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Courier firm asked to pay compensation

VIJAYAWADA, JAN. 9. The District Consumer Forum Vijayawada has ordered the DTDC Couriers and Cargo Limited, Vijayawada, to pay monetary compensation to Ganesh Rao for "failing'' to deliver a consignment on time, on account of which the latter complained that he lost a contract.

According to Mr Ganesh Rao of Darvin Scientific Equipments, Gandhinagar, he had prepared a tender claim and on January 4, 2003, entrusted it to the courier service with specific instructions that it be delivered to the consignee and Principal Government Degree College, Srikakulam, before January 6, 2003. But the courier company failed to deliver the consignment before the stipulated date on account of which the consignee refused to accept the tender application. Holding the courier company responsible for the rejection, Mr Rao filed a case before the forum seeking a compensation of Rs 50,000, as he felt that his tender, if submitted on time, would have been accepted.

The DTDC company, however, took the plea that the complainant was carrying on business and cannot be treated as a "consumer'' within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act. It also claimed that the consignor was never assured that the consignment would be delivered by January 6. It stated that the company's branch office at Srikakulam received the consignment on January 6 at about 5 pm and immediately an attempt was made to deliver the consignment in the office of the Principal, Government Degree College, Srikakulam, but the same was rejected by the college authorities on the ground that the time for submission of tenders was over.

The bench comprising the president, D Satyanarayana Reddi, and members, G Bharathi and P V V Satyanarayana Murthy, after hearing the arguments of the rival parties held that the complainant was not carrying on business on a large scale and was doing so only to eke out his livelihood and that it can be termed as self employment. As such, the complainant can be treated as "consumer'' within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act.

Speaking for the bench, Mr Reddi pointed out that the consignment was entrusted to the courier company at Vijayawada on January 4. It is natural to expect the consignment to reach Srikakulam on the next day, i.e. January 5. But even by 5 pm on January 6, the consignment was not delivered to the consignee by the couriers. The courier company also failed to explain as to what time the consignment reached Srikakulam and on which date and at what time the consignment was offered to the consignee.

"We are of the opinion that the opposite parties (courier company) deliberately suppressed these facts. This is a clear case of dereliction of duty and deficiency in service,'' the forum stated in its order. However, the forum rejected the compensation claim of Rs 50,000 by the complainant as "highly excessive'' and instead ordered that an amount of Rs 1000 be paid as compensation to Mr Rao together with interest due thereon at the rate of Rs 9 per cent per annum from January 6, 2003 till the date of realisation. The complainant would also get Rs 300 from the courier company towards the costs of the case.

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