Saturday, November 17, 2007

When a mobile phone landed its owner in jail


Nokia Care penalised by consumer forum for deficiency in service

BANGALORE: When Abdul Hamid, a resident of R.T. Nagar bought a mobile phone handset for his wife, little did he imagine that the device would land her in a police station and him in the consumer court.

After a prolonged battle with the manufacturer of the handset, Mr. Hamid won the day with the Third Additional Bangalore Urban District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum asking Nokia Care, the Service Centre of Nokia mobile phones here, to refund Abdul Hamid Rs. 3,332, the cost of the handset, and pay a compensation of Rs. 50,000 on various counts, including excess billing and causing mental agony.

Mr. Hamid bought the mobile phone for exclusive use of his wife who lives with his family in New Delhi. When she got her first bill for April 2006 she found that some messages have been sent to numbers unknown to her. The Nokia Care Centre at Sector 5, New Delhi, said it was a software problem and said it had rectified it.

Matters took an alarming turn with Mr. Hamid receiving a phone call from the Delhi police saying it had arrested his wife and children. They were arrested on a complaint by one Manish stating that his wife was receiving vulgar messages from Mr. Hamid's wife's mobile phone. Mr. Hamid had to go to Delhi and explain to the police and Mr. Manish about the software problem related to the mobile phone. He managed to persuade Mr. Manish to withdraw the complaint.

The handset was taken to the same Nokia Care Centre, the software was again updated and Mr. Hamid was advised to change the SIM card, which he did at a cost of Rs. 1,200. But the problem continued with hundreds of SMSs being automatically sent to national and international numbers.

A call even went to the Connaught Place police station, New Delhi.

Mr. Hamid then gave the mobile phone for servicing to another authorised centre in Vasant Nagar in Bangalore. He switched over to a BSNL SIM card but the problem continued.

At the end of his tether, he gave the handset to the Nokia Care Centre on Infantry Road here and sought a replacement. When he did not get it even after two weeks, he filed a complaint with the forum.

The Nokia Care authorities did not appear before the forum.

Upholding Mr. Hamid's contention, forum president N. Srivathsa Kedilaya and member Subhashini observed in their order that the conduct of Nokia Care amounted to deficiency in service. They found that the servicing centre had also illegally retained the handset without providing or suggesting any remedy.

The forum then ordered Nokia Care to refund the cost of the handset and pay the compensation to Mr. Hamid.

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