News : Government to Strengthen National Consumer Helpline
New Delhi, India, July 12, 2016 -- Upset over delay in expansion of National Consumer Helpline system, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the number of telephone lines will be increased to 60 from the current 14 in one month to address the rising consumer complaints.
The government also decided to set up a committee for preparing a detailed proposal to establish National Consumer Helpline (NCH) centres at four different locations in the country.
Paswan visited the National Consumer Helpline centre in the national capital and reviewed the operation.
"I had directed one-and-a-half years ago to increase the number of telehone lines. Why there has been a delay in increasing the telephone lines," Paswan asked the officials.
He said 14 lines are very less in a country of over 120 crore population for redressal of consumer grievances.
Consumers would not wait for six minutes to register their complaints, he said, while emphasising on the need to strengthen the National Consumer Helpline to widen its reach.
The officials explained that because of procedural delays the expansion of telephone lines of NCH was held up.
Briefing media after the meeting, Paswan said: "We have decided that number of telephone lines will be increased to 60 in next one month. We will also create a mobile app to help guidance to consumers."
That apart, Paswan said, the ministry will create a system to address the complaints through web-chats and emails.
A committee under the chairmanship of Minister of State for Consumer Affairs C R Chaudhary will consider mechanism for setting up four regional centres of helpline to address complaints in regional languages. The committee has been asked to submit the reports within a month, Paswan said.
Consumers from across the country can access the toll free National Consumer Helpline number '1800-11-4000' and seek telephonic counseling for consumer-related problems.
The helpline, managed by Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), also provides information, advice and guidance related to consumer issues.
At present, NCH gets an average 18,000 complaints a month. During March-May 2016, products contributed 21 per cent to the total complaints, followed by e-commerce at 18 per cent and telecommunication 16 per cent.
More than 200 companies have voluntarily tied up with NCH for quick redressal of consumer complaints.
Besides less number of telephone lines, the officials said that old software and problems in MTNL connection are hurdles in meeting the objectives of NCH.
Paswan said that very soon his Ministry will come out with guidelines for 'Direct Selling' to protect the interests of consumers.
The ministry also held a separate meeting today with the industry associations and corporates including from e-commerce sector where they were asked to be pro-active in the matters of redressal of consumer complaints.
The industry associations were asked to convince their members to partner with NCH and put all policies related to return or refund of products in public domain.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
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