The apex consumer commission has directed luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz India and Daimler Chrysler India to pay over Rs 10 lakh to the owner of a Mercedes car, holding them guilty of unfair trade practice.
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has asked the German car maker to pay Rs 10.25 lakh to C G Power and Industrial Solutions Limited, also known as Crompton Greaves, the owner of the vehicle.
Sudhir M Trehan, former Managing Director of electrical company 'Crompton Greaves', had met with an accident while riding E240 car, one of the models, on account of faulty frontal airbags.
The Commission also asked the global automobile manufacturer to provide adequate information on the deployment or triggering of the airbags of the vehicle in consultation with the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) in the owner's manual and its website.
"The opposite parties indulged in acts of unfair trade practice by not giving complete material information to the buyers with respect to the functioning and triggering of the front airbags provided in the car," a bench presided by NCDRC member V K Jain said.
"I hold that the frontal airbags of the vehicle were defective and that was the reason they did not deploy even in a frontal collision between the car and a container truck which had resulted in severe damages to the front portion of the car," he said.
The Commission has directed the car maker to pay sum of Rs 5 lakh to the owner firm for the deficiency in the services rendered to it on account of the airbags of the car having not deployed or triggered. It also awarded Rs 5 lakh to the company, which owned the car, for the unfair trade practice indulged into by the maker and Rs 25,000 as cost.
According to the compliant, C G Power and Industrial Solutions Limited, purchased the car for its MD in 2002 after paying Rs 45.38 lakh, which was proclaimed by the manufacturer to be the safest on road. In 2006, while Trehan was returning from Nasik to Mumbai after an official trip, the vehicle, being driven by an employee of the company, collided head-on with a goods-carrier and the impact was so high that its entire front portion was smashed, the complaint said.
It further alleged that the driver suffered minor injuries while Trehan suffered grievous injuries and was hospitalised for more than six weeks. The complaint claimed that despite collision, none of the air bags of the vehicle opened and that had the air bags opened in time, the MD might have suffered less injuries or probably no injury at all.
The commission noted that from the manual of the vehicle, it was clear that the side airbags were triggered only on the side on which an impact occurs in an accident and that the said airbags are independent of the front airbags.
"The Manual... does not disclose as to what the said predetermined level was. If the front airbags were not to deploy in every accident resulting in front end impact, the opposite parties (car maker), in my view, ought to have disclosed to the buyers as to what the predetermined level necessary to trigger the front passenger airbag were.
"In the absence of such a disclosure in the owner's manual, as far as the functioning of the front passenger airbags are concerned would be deficient, on account of its not providing the requisite information to the buyer," the Commission said in the order.
"Highlighting the safety features including the airbags for selling the vehicle, without such a disclosure, in my opinion, constituted an unfair and deceptive trade practice," it added.