Hyderabad consumer forum asks Country Club to pay Rs 90k to Hyderabad customer

The opposite party's action allegedly forced the complainant to take the membership in order to deceive the complainant

Country Club

HYDERABAD: The District Consumer Redressal Commission Hyderabad asked Country Club Hospitality, Holidays Ltd to pay a total of Rs 90,000 in compensation, litigation costs, and refund to a Hyderabad customer, Dr. A.V. Ramana Rao, due to poor service and unfair trade practises.

82-year-old Dr. A.V. Ramana Rao, a resident of Baghlingampally in Hyderabad, and his wife went shopping at Big Bazar in Kachiguda and bought some kitchen items and household items. During the billing process, he was asked for his mobile phone number. He even questioned why the name and mobile number are actually needed, but the concerned party (Big Bazar) informed him that there will be a lucky draw for regular customers, and whoever wins will receive some gifts.

The complainant and his wife provided their mobile phone numbers at the Big Bazar billing counter, and they received a phone call informing them of the situation. They were informed that the complainant had won the lucky draw and that they would each receive attractive gifts in various forms. They were even told to visit the hotel Amrutha Castle in Saifabad, to pick up their gifts.

The complainant and his wife visited the hotel Amrutha Castle on January 1, 2019, anxious to learn more about the gifts. The complainant and his wife were informed to get in touch with the Country Club Hospitality Holidays at Amrutha Castle executives of the second opposing party.

The executives, on the other hand, have started to provide various details of their club packages and various vacation trips offered by their company without providing any information about the gifts.

In his complaint, the complainant claimed that they had only gone to the hotel Amrutha Castle to learn about the presents being provided in exchange for making purchases at the Big Bazar mall. However, Country Club executives persuaded the complainant and his wife to join the club rather than accept the gifts allegedly offered by Big Bazar.

The opposing party forced them to join, and it was only then that the proposed gifts were revealed. Furthermore, the country club provided them with a membership agreement dated January 7, 2019, and asked them to sign it. The complainant was also forced to pay a Rs. 75,000 membership fee.

However, the complainant did not used the packages as mentioned in the membership agreement and had no intention to use the packages that are being offered by the

Country club organization. The complainant did not use the opposite party's membership packages and thus requested a refund of the Rs. 75,000 paid. They stated in their complaint that he and his wife are senior citizens who are unable to travel to distant locations and spend time, therefore the complainant and his wife have no intention of taking the membership.

Despite multiple requests and notices, the country club did not respond and did not return the refund amount. According to the complainant, the opposing parties are in the business of providing services to the general public and, in order to make money, are inducing the general public by engaging in false and fraudulent acts, which amounts to unfair trade practises.

The complainant has endured a significant amount of mental anguish and hardship, and as a senior citizen, he was forced to join the opposing party despite the fact that he was unable to use it; thus, with no other choice, the complainant approached this Commission for appropriate relief.

The Country Club even filed a writ petition, claiming that the complainant had visited the opposing party on his own will and inquired about the various products and services available as well as the terms and conditions attached to them. When questioned, the complainant was given detailed information about the products and services. The complainant was informed of all the benefits. They even claimed that the complainant is an educated individual who signed the binding agreement with the opposing party after reading and comprehending the contents.

They claimed that the complainant was informed throughout the entire process of taking the membership that the membership fee is non-refundable after the 10 days period as per the clause No.27 of the agreement, wherein he was eligible to seek refund of the membership fee by invoking the said clause. The complainant entered into the membership agreement voluntarily and with full knowledge and understanding, and his allegations against the opposing party company are false and oral in nature, with no evidentiary proof. The complainant's claim that he was forced to join is false and frivolous. The complainant is an educated individual who signed the agreement of his own free will, and he was also well-informed, they claimed.

However, during the hearing, the commission stated that the 82-year-old senior citizen and his wife expressed interest in taking such type of membership with payment of large amounts. The opposite party's action clearly shows that they forced the complainant to take the membership in order to deceive the complainant.

The Country Club also stated that the complainant is not entitled to a refund of the membership fee after the 10-day cooling-off period specified in clause No.27 of the agreement. The commission observed that it is a one-sided agreement made solely for the benefit of the country club, and one-sided contracts are not valid contracts, as held by the Supreme Court and the National Commission in catena of Judgments.

Therefore, accusing unfair business practises and a lack of service from the country club, the commission asked that the country club refund an amount of Rs. 75,000 along with interest at a rate of 9% per year from the date the amount was received on January 7, 2019, until it was realised, as well as Rs. 10,000 in compensation and Rs. 5,000 in costs associated with the complaint. The commission, however, dismissed the complaint against Big Bazaar.

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