“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
– M. K. Gandhi.
In 2012, still in my first year of college, I submitted an almost brand new Xperia U smartphone to Sony for repairs. The screen was dead but still ringing for incoming calls. Sony took the phone and vowed to repair or replace it free of cost, under warranty, within 2 weeks.
Three weeks later with no update, I called Sony only to find out that repairs would cost ₹13,000. Roughly 80% of the price of my phone. Yikes.
When I informed them that I have no intention of coughing up such an amount, the service centre said repairs had already been carried out. They further told me the phone would only be returned if I paid the full amount of ₹13,000. Sony would be kind enough to hold on to my phone until then.
In January 2013, I filed suit in the Consumer Court. Sony’s representatives did not appear for 2 hearings over the next few months. On the final hearing in June, the now sympathetic Judge, V. P. Utpat, recorded the opposing party’s neglectful and contemptuous behaviour, and ruled ex-parte. I appeared without a lawyer and represented myself on all occasions.
Sony was to refund the entire price of the phone, along with damages and interest, within 6 weeks. A grand total of ₹21,201 – not a lot of money, but I was expecting nothing to begin with. My cynicism, however, was not entirely unfounded.
It took Sony 6 months to comply with the court decree. But in November, Goliath finally sent David a cheque for damages. Payable at par.
This illuminating journey through the system gave me invaluable insight into the functions of corporations, the working of our judicial machinery, and my rights as a consumer & citizen. It even inspired me to pursue a deeper, academic understanding of the law. But chiefly, it taught me 3 principal lessons:
- The system works if you work it.
- Never stop. Rivers cut through rock not because of power but by persistence.
- College is a place of learning, but an education comes from all corners of life.