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All’s well that ends well

Prompt action

I would like to thank the Consumer Helpline team of The Telegraph. It was on the publication of my complaint and the opinion of the expert that Auto HiTech Pvt. Limited located at 97-A, Southern Avenue, Calcutta-700 029, handed me a cheque of Rs 11,904 drawn on the Bank of India, Southern Avenue branch, in response to my claim. The column is indeed an excellent move to solve the problems of consumers.

Dr Keya Halder Banerjee,
38/2 Mohim Halder Street,
Calcutta-26.

Company Response: This is with reference to Dr Banerjee’s complaint in The Telegraph on April 16, 2007, regarding a refund of Rs 11,904. Since Dr Banerjee is an esteemed customer, we have sent a cheque (no. 061849) dated April 18, 2007, for Rs 11,904, drawn on the Bank of India, Southern Avenue branch, refunding the amount.

M. Mukhopadhyay, General Manager,
Auto HiTech (P) Ltd, 97A, Southern Avenue, Calcutta-29.

The Expert: It is a pleasure to note that upon publication of the complaint in this Consumer Helpline column, Auto HiTech Pvt. Ltd took immediate steps to sort out the problem of the complainant and thereby proved its consumer-friendly approach. The sincere efforts of the company at the earliest opportunity should be appreciated.

No returns

When my husband was working for the Steel Authority of India Ltd, Bokaro Steel Plant, Bokaro Steel (B.S.) City, I invested a sum of Rs 80,000 on March 7, 1997, in Hoffland Finance Ltd at their branch office at C-14, City Centre, Sector IV, Bokaro Steel City-827004, Bokaro, for a period of six months. Hoffland Finance Ltd issued postdated cheques (six in number for the period from April 1997 to September 1997). After six months, the capital of Rs 80,000 was reinvested for three more months (September 1997 to December 1997). The money receipt for this was again issued to us by Hoffland Finance Ltd, along with four cheques. But to my surprise, two cheques were returned by Vijaya Bank, B.S. City, to my bank, Bank of Baroda, B.S. City, stating that the payments had been stopped by the drawer. We took up the matter with Hoffland Finance Ltd at their B.S. City branch. As per their advice, I applied for a refund of my money on December 11, 1997. The application was verified and sent to their chairman for the purpose of refund. But the company suddenly downed shutters in Bokaro, Jamshedpur and Patna around December 11, 1997, and vanished from the scene. Subsequently, I sent an appeal to the CMD of Hoffland Finance Ltd at their registered office, 1207 Hemkunt, Rajendra Place, New Delhi-110008. To date, I have not heard from the company. Meanwhile, the Company Law Board (CLB), in a suo moto order, directed the defaulter, Hoffland Finance Ltd, to repay the entire amount to its depositors vide a news report in the Times of India, November 11, 1998. What do I do now'

Annapurna Chattopadhyay,
Flat 1P, Mandhar Apartments,
27/1, Shyam Nagar Road,
Calcutta-55.

Company Response: No response.

The Expert: The order passed by the Company Law Board (CLB) directing the company to repay the entire amount to its depositors clearly shows that CLB is aware of the matter. So it would be wise to approach the CLB immediately for relief. So far as a consumer forum is concerned, since this happened in 1997-1998, any claim by the complainant would be barred by the law of limitation. As per Section 24A, the limitation period of complaints under COPRA is only two years.

Policy matters

I applied for payment of the surrender value of my policy to the senior branch manager, LIC, India, City Branch 20. This policy was assigned to LIC Housing Finance Ltd which re-assigned the policy and sent it back to LIC, after repayment of the outstanding balance.

There was no response from City Branch 20 even after several requests. So I met the branch manager, who assured me of early action. Thereafter, all the documents were forwarded by City Branch 20 to their Shyambazar branch on July 27, 2006. Again, there was no response for several months. I sent a letter to the marketing manager on November 17, 2006. On December 18, 2006, I forwarded the same letter to the zonal manager to urge his intervention to resolve the matter so that I could get back my money. I got a reply from the zonal manager on December 30, 2006, once again assuring early action. But to date no action has been taken. How do I get back my money'

Mihir Kumar Banerjee,
Magnomainak CHS, 132 Kanungo Park, Garia, Calcutta-84.

Company Response: There was a dispute regarding the last premium payment against this policy. However, on receiving confirmation from Assignee LICHFL, the surrender payment has been processed and a cheque (no. 0558145) drawn on Canara Bank, Hatibagan, for an amount of Rs 11,811 has been delivered to Mihir Kumar Banerjee.

Authorised Signatory,
LIC, Shyambazar Branch, 102A Aurobindo Sarani, (Fourth floor), Calcutta-06.

The Expert: Though late, still the step taken by LIC, India, should be appreciated.

Last resort

In 1996, we purchased from Shangrila Resort Private Limited at 101/8, S.N. Banerjee Road, Calcutta-13, a few time share slots of their holiday resort in Digha for a continuous period of 42 years. We paid a total sum of Rs 64,060 by A/C payee cheques.
After enjoying our stay at Shangrila Resort, Digha, three to four times, we discovered that the company had downed its shutters and handed over its physical assets and liabilities to a new owner, without any intimation to us. The new owner has changed the name of Shangrila Resort, Digha, to Palm Resort, depriving us of our privileges. Please suggest ways and means to secure our dues.

H.L. Dubey, 11A Chowringhee Terrace,
7B, Gokhale Road, Calcutta-20.

Company Response: No response.

The Expert: First you need to find out from the registrar of companies in Calcutta the detailed particulars of the company which has taken over Shangrila Resort Pvt. Ltd. Only upon ascertaining that, can you move before the consumer forums, alleging deficiency in service on the part of the company in not providing the time share benefit to you. In this connection, it is pertinent to mention that it is the settled principle of law that the “plaintiff/petitioner is to succeed on the weakness of the defence”. Hence, prior to initiating any proceeding before consumer forums, you will have to ascertain who are the rightful owners of the mentioned company.

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