This case study is about a consumer named Ashok RamniklalTolat, who got misguided by Chevrolet Foster’s tagline, ” A SUV to beat all SUV’s”, During the monsoon season, the supposed offroader vehicle didn’t wade through the water, making the customer doubt on all the claims and features made by the company for this vehicle. When confronted, the service engineer shows the manual of the car which states that its a ‘Passenger car’.
Aghast, Mr.Tolat decided to complain against the company , which resulted in a three year battle against the lawyers representing General Motors and he did that without hiring a lawyer.First, the complaint was filed at the district forum, along with the copy of the advertisement and booklet with information on the car, which convinced Mr. Tolat into buying the vehicle. The given pieces of evidences had several statements like ‘will put the four corners of the earth within your reach… get you there in unmatched comfort, by road, off-road or no road.
‘and ‘SUV to end all SUVs’. Mr. Tolat enclosed all of the purchase details and related documents and it is seen that his total expenses amounted upto Rs. 14 lakhs approximately, excluding accessories. Upon reviewing Mr. Tolat’s appeal and reviewing the case, The district consumer forum’s decision favoured the consumer (Mr.
Tolat). The company was ordered to refund the money spent by Mr.Tolat with some interest from the date of complaint. The given order above, by the district forum was challenged by the opposite forum i.
e, the Gujarat State commission and almost got changed. After reviewing that facts, the Commission told that since the vehicle neither had any manufacturing nor mechanical defect, Mr. Tolat was to be given only Rs. 50,000 as compensation (including the costs of litigation). As for the company, they were given orders not to describe the vehicle as SUV and to rectify it to be passenger car wherever so mentioned. Unhappy with the scenario, Mr.
Tolat challenged the judgement at the National Forum. The challenge was to understand the order of the state commission. After reviewing the case, it was decided that Mr. Tolat would receive Rs.
12,50,000. The company was ordered to pay punitive damages for selling the vehicle to about 260 consumers, resulting in the amount to be paid as Rs.25 lakhs.
Out of this amount, Mr. Tolat was to be paid Rs. 5 lakhs and the rest to be deposited at the Consumer Welfare fund.General Motors challenged the judgement of the National commission at the Supreme Court.
Upon reading the appeal by the Company and reviewing the case, the final order by the Supreme Court reversed the order of the National commission in regard to the punitive damages, as punitive damages are awarded only if the mistake has been made consciously. The Supreme Court was focussed on reversing the orders as the respondent complainant was satisfied with the order given in the District forum, and only appealed to the national forum as the state commission when appealed by the company gave unfair orders.