Company to pay for shampoo that damaged woman’s hair

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 14 Juli 2014 | 22.23

Case Study: Taranjit Kaur had used a Pantene Pro V shampoo pouch, which her father, Amarjit Singh, had bought. After washing her hair with the shampoo, it got gummed and lost its form. When Singh brought this to the the retailer's notice, the latter took up the issue with the distributor, and with the manufacturing company, Proctor and Gamble Home Products (P&G). P&G then paid for Taranjit's one-time hair treatment at Vandana Luthra Care Clinic (VLCC). But Taranjit's hair could not be brought back to its original form, forcing her to get it removed.

She filed a complaint against P&G, its distributor, the retailer and VLCC for deficiency in service and unfair trade practice. The Sangrur district forum held P&G and the retailer liable and directed them to pay Rs 25,000.

P&G appealed to the Punjab state commission, which dismissed the appeal and directed payment of an additional Rs 2,000. P&G then approached the national commission in revision, raising legal and technical objections. It claimed that the bill for the purchase had not been produced. The firm also challenged Taranjit's right to file a consumer complaint, contending that the shampoo had been bought by her father. It challenged the jurisdiction of the district forum to decide the complaint as the company did not have any office there.

P&G argued that the damage may have been due to rough water or dandruff. But since the shampoo had not been sent for analysis, the firm should not be held liable. Taranjit countered this, by pointing out that the sachet contents had been used up and nothing was left for testing. She said the company ought to have sent similar pouches for testing.

In its July 7 judgment, delivered by Dr S M Kantikar for the bench along with Justice J M Malik, the commission observed that P&G could not escape liability because the bill was not available. It held that the shampoo had been purchased from a retailer at Dhrui in Sangrur, so the district forum would be vested with the jurisdiction to decide the complaint, regardless of whether or not P&G had its office there.

The commission noted that Taranjit had produced the empty pouch and a tuft of the damaged hair as evidence. It agreed with Taranjit that she could not have sent the shampoo for testing as the sachet contained only 9ml, but it questioned P&G's failure to send other similar pouches for testing. P&G then requested the commission to send the empty pouch for testing the traces, but the request was turned down as the shampoo had crossed its expiry date.

The national commission observed that the tuft produced by Taranjit showed it to be damaged and discoloured. The compulsion to remove hair would cause a cosmetic embarrassment to a girl. It also observed that P&G cannot escape being held liable for deficiency in service merely because it had borne the cost of a one-time treatment at VLCC. On the contrary, it would be construed as a clandestine admission of liability and an attempt to save skin. It indicted P&G for continuing the litigation and dragging the consumer to the national commission for a meagre Rs 25,000 compensation.

Conclusion: Multinationals must respect consumers. They should not think they will get away with their might and money power.

(The author is a consumer activist and has won the govt. of India's national youth award for consumer protection. His e-mail address is,Shampoo,Hair,compensation

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