Citi Bank Credit Card
DISTRICT CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL FORUM MYSORE
No.845, 10th Main, New Kantharaj Urs Road, G.C.S.T. Layout, Kuvempunagar, Mysore - 570 009
consumer case(CC) No. CC/09/30
Dr. S.P. Thirumala Rao
Citi Bank Credit Card Centre & one another
Citi Bank Card Services Unit
1. Smt.Y.V.Uma Shenoi
2. Sri D.Krishnappa
3. Sri. Shivakumar.J.
ORDERORDER Complainant Dr.S.P.Thirumala Rao, 93, 9th Cross, Gokulam 1st Stage, Mysore-570002. (INPERSON)
1. Manager, Citi Bank Credit Card Centre, P.O.Box No.5496, GPO, Bangalore.
2. Regional Collection Manager, CIti Bank Card Services Unit, Citi Bank Card Centre, 766, Annasalai, Chennai-600002. (By Sri.P.T.Ponnappa, Advocate) Nature of complaint : Deficiency in service Date of filing of complaint : 24.01.2009 Date of appearance of O.P. : 25.02.2009 Date of order : 24.03.2009 Duration of Proceeding : 1 MONTH PRESIDENT MEMBER MEMBER Sri.D.Krishnappa, President
1. The grievance of the complainant who has filed this complaint under section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 against the opposite parties is, that he was lured by the opposite parties to obtain a credit card from them offering certain benefits to medical professionals who purchase credit cards, he obtained a credit card from opposite parties. That he had been to USA during June to November 2008, and during that period he had told one Smt.N.Ashwathamma to make the payments as and when the opposite parties send bills on any purchases. That he had made certain purchases in USA and on receipt of the statement of opposite parties dated 30.07.2008 for Rs.3,803/- that amount is debited to the account on 30.08.2008 accordingly on receipt of another statement dated 29.09.2008 a sum of Rs.9,206.72 has been debited to the account on 29.08.2008. On his return from USA on receipt of statement dated 27.10.2008 paid Rs.1,406/- and stated that all the payments are made through cheques amounting to Rs.14,416/-. On perusal of the statements sent by the opposite parties, he noticed from the above statements that the opposite parties have charged him for Rs.165.21 towards interest at 17.9 p.a., Rs.300/- as late payment fee and Rs.57.50 as service taxes and thereby the opposite parties claimed Rs.1,270/- in excess though he had paid Rs.3,803/- as demanded. Then he questioning the opposite parties in charging him for the above charges sent a letter to the opposite parties on 05.12.2008 to correct statements, but they instead of revising statement sent a letter on 22.12.2008 from second opposite party to make the over due payment and intimating that the matter has been referred to recovery agencies. Then he approached the second opposite party through E-mail to recall the said letter and stated that statements of the opposite parties are erroneous and their letter dated 10.12.2008 has been issued as a threatening one. That on 22.12.2008 when he received the threatening letter who was in the midst of arranging the National Consumer Day on 24.12.2008 with other dignitaries he was very much worried and got about threatening letter and therefore has contended that the opposite parties have received Rs.1,277/- in excess and is liable to be refunded and therefore has prayed for awarding compensation of Rs.50,000/- for mental agony, punitive damages of Rs.10,000/- and to direct the opposite parties to remit a sum of Rs.15,00,000/- to the Legal Aid Account of this Forum and to award cost.
2. The opposite parties have entered appearance through their advocate and filed version and contended as if this is a commercial transaction do not come within the purview of the Consumer Protection Act and therefore, the complaint is liable to be dismissed. It is further contended by them that when the complainant disputed certain charges, they considered and reversed all the disputed charges, such as late payment fee, service charges and services taxes and issued monthly statement on 28.12.2008 and therefore the grievance of the complainant has been properly addressed despite that has come up with this false complaint and stated that the complainant delayed making payments.
The complainant if at all aggrieved by the correctness of the statements would have filed report to them within 30 days, but has not done so and further justifying their action of charging the customers as charged above as per the guidelines of the RBI and denying all other allegations have prayed for dismissal of the complaint.
3. During the course of enquiry into the complaint, the complainant and one Narendra Singh for opposite parties have filed their affidavit evidence re-asserting what they have stated in their respective complaint and version. The complainant has produced the statements issued by the opposite parties and copy of the letter he had addressed to opposite parties on 05.12.2008 and replies of the opposite parties dated 12.12.2008 and 10.12.2008. Opposite parties have also produced copies of statements. Heard the complainant who is in person, counsel for the opposite parties and perused the records.
4. On the above contentions, following points for determination arise. 1. Whether the complainant proves that the opposite parties have indulged in Unfair trade practice in the course of their business? 2. To what relief the complainant is entitled to?
5. Our findings are as under:- Point no.1 : In the Affirmative. Point no.2 : See the final order.
Point no. 1:- As there is no dispute with regard to this complainant availing the credit card of opposite parties and using it on three occasions for purchase of certain articles. Further there is also no dispute with regard to the actual amount of Rs.14,416/- paid by the complainant to the opposite parties after receipt of the statements. As could be found from the statements produced by both the parties, statements for the month of July 2008 till December 2008 besides containing the purchases made and the value of the purchase have also contain the particulars of interest charge, late payment fee, and service tax levied by the opposite parties. The complainant questioning the correctness of these levies submitted that the opposite parties had assured him of giving concession to the medical practioner and he being a medical practioner, he should have been given concession whereas the opposite parties by sending statements by levying those other charges has adopted Unfair trade practice and therefore argued that the opposite parties as against the actual amount due by him to them have collected Rs.1,277/- in excess and thereby has prayed for a direction to refund that amount besides granting other reliefs.
7. As canvassed by the complainant, these statements sent by the opposite parties though contain several other charges besides the actual purchases, the opposite parties responding to the grievance of the complainant in para 3 of that complaint have conceded to had told the complainant of giving certain concession and they after considering the claim of the complainant reversed all the disputed charges that is late payment fee, service charges, and service taxes and they have further specifically stated they have issued a monthly statement on 28.12.2008 redressing the grievance of the complainant. The opposite parties have also in their affidavit evidence admitted to have extended concession to the complainant.
On perusal of the statement of opposite parties dated 28.12.2008, it is found that the opposite parties have waived services charges of Rs.237.38, late payment charges of Rs.900/- and also reversed service tax and thereby shown that Rs.530.25 as due. The differences between the parties and the grievance of the complainant could be conveniently understood and the same can be resolved by simple method.
8. As could be seen from the contention of the opposite parties, they have admitted to have given concession to the complainant regarding other charges and reversed levy of all other charges by confining their claim to the actual purchases made by the complainant. As evident from the statements, the complainant under all these statements has made total purchase of Rs.13,956.96 and admittedly he has paid Rs.14,416/-.
If the amount due by the complainant to the opposite parties for purchases is deducted from the total amount collected from the complainant by the opposite parties, the complainant undoubtedly has paid Rs.459.04 in excess that is the opposite parties have collected excess amount of Rs.459.04 from the complainant and thus the complainant in our view is entitled for refund of Rs.459.04 and not Rs.1,277/- from the opposite parties. Since, this excess amount paid by the complainant he is entitled for refund of the said amount.
9. The complainant has referred to a recovery letter issued by the opposite parties for recovery of the amount if outstanding and pleaded the embracement he had faced by this demand of the opposite parties and he also invited our attention to the letter of the second opposite party dated 10.12.2008 and also another letter dated 12.12.2008. In this letter, the opposite parties have admitted that the complainant has paid the bill amount within due date, but there has been delay at the opposite parties end in not crediting those amounts to their account on time. The contention of the opposite parties reveal as if they are guided by the RBI guidelines with regard to levying of late payment charges, interest and service taxes and therefore what they have done is in accordance with law.
If the opposite parties had really done that act of levying charges on the complainant in accordance with the guidelines of the RBI and if there is any discretion for them to waive it, they will be at liberty and as a right they can do so and that cannot be questioned by the borrower or card holder.
If they had really done that in accordance with law, they could not have agreed for total waiver. It is noticed that the opposite parties have indiscriminately and repeatedly imposed these three charges irrespective of the amount due some times, they have imposed the charges at the same rate even when a small amount was outstanding. It is further noticed that the opposite parties have committed error even in not crediting the cheques issued by the complainant to their account and for that they have alleged as if the complainant paid the bill amounts after expiry of the period fixed. All these materials placed before us indicate that the opposite parties are not strictly adhering to the guidelines if any or to certain principles and on the other hand are acting arbitrarily and it appears that the opposite parties are routinely go on imposing this extra charges and whenever a customer gain guts to question their act, they will budge to such persons and waive of those charges by giving total immunity, but the customers who have no such capacity of questioning them or cannot approach them for the redressal have to suffer by paying these uncalled for and arbitrary charges.
This should not be the attitude of the opposite parties and we observe that they should follow uniform and established principles or method in all the cases irrespective of the status of the person or persons. Therefore, the facts we have narrated above lead to an irresistible inference that the opposite parties are adopting this kind of Unfair trade practice in their day to day business and that is causing un told suffering to the bonafide customers resulting in injury and financial loss. Therefore, in order to mitigate such temptation, we propose to impose punitive damages against them besides granting partial relief to the complainant. As the result, we answer point no.1 in the affirmative and pass the following
ORDER 1. The Complaint is allowed in part.
2. The first and second opposite parties jointly and severally are directed to refund Rs.459.04 within 30 days from the date of this order, failing which they shall pay interest at 9% p.a. from the date of this order till the date of payment.
3. The first and second opposite parties jointly and severally shall also pay compensation of Rs.3,000/- to the complainant for mental agony and embracement within 30 days from the date of this order, failing which they shall pay interest at 9% p.a. from the date of this order till the date of payment.
4. The first and second opposite parties jointly and severally shall also remit a sum of Rs.5,000/- to the Legal Aid Account of this Forum within 30 days from the date of this order, failing which they shall pay interest at 9% p.a. from the date of this order till the date of payment.
5. The first and second opposite parties jointly and severally shall also pay Rs.500/- to the complainant. 6. Give a copy of this order to each party according to Rules.