Hyderabad: It was supposed to be a lifetime memorable trip for Sriharsha and his wife. But it turned out to be a nightmare for the newly-married couple. Thanks to the travel company’s goofing up, Sriharsha coughed up over Rs. 44,000 in addition to other expenses.
K.S. Sriharsha, a software employee and a resident of Sainikpuri, Secunderabad, took the issue to the Hyderabad District Consumer Forum-I. Pulling up the online travel firm, MakeMyTrip, for over deficiency of service and unfair trade practice, the consumer forum ordered it to refund Rs. 85,984 as compensation along with Rs. 25,000 towards mental agony and Rs. 10,000 for litigation costs.
Sriharsha booked a holiday package of Shimla, Manali and Chandigarh for himself and his wife through MakeMyTrip from January 2, 2022 to January 9, 2022. He paid Rs. 44,407 for the total package, including tickets, hotels, cab service, transfers and other expenses.
As per the averments of the complaint, Sriharsha and his wife met with an accident, en route Manali near Markand on January 4, 2022. Both suffered serious injuries and they were rushed to a nearby primary health centre for treatment. According to the complaint that was filed on March 3, 2022 with the forum, it was mentioned that the complainant, his wife along with the driver of the car were called for interrogation and had to stay overnight in Bilaspur. After completion of the formalities and treatment, they wanted to return to Hyderabad. Since the travel firm did not cooperate in booking return flight tickets, they had to stay in a hotel in Chandigarh on January 5, 2022. After returning to Hyderabad, the complainant asked the travel firm to refund the money and the additional expenses incurred by him. The customer support of the firm only refunded Rs. 4,911. Aggrieved by the same, Sriharsha filed a complaint against the company at the forum.
MakeMyTrip denied any deficiency of service. The firm said that other than the court of NCR Delhi, no other court had jurisdiction to entertain the dispute as per the terms and conditions of the user agreement. It was further averred that the complaint does not fall within the definition of ‘consumer dispute’.
The consumer forum held that it was the duty and responsibility of the travel firm to assist the complainant and provide him with the best facilities throughout the tour which the firm failed to provide. The forum said that the firm cannot escape from its liability and take benefit by merely saying that their (MMT) liability was limited as per user agreement. "There is no documentary evidence to establish to show that the user agreement was executed and signed by the parties," the forum said. "With regard to lack of territorial jurisdiction and dispute not being ‘consumer dispute’, it is settled law that the Commission has jurisdiction as per Section 34(2) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Considering the mental agony and harassment they underwent, the forum awarded a compensation of Rs. 85,984 along with Rs. 25, 000 and Rs. 15,000 towards litigation costs.