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CCPA imposes penalties on Rau’s IAS Study Circle

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NEW DELHI, June 26 (PTI): Consumer protection regulator CCPA has imposed penalties on Rau’s IAS Study Circle and Seekers Education for publishing misleading advertisements, according to a statement by CCPA on Monday.

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The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) authority also stated that the number of bookings cancelled and pending refund amount due to Covid-19 pandemic on three travel portals Yatra, HappyEasyGo and Easymytrip have reduced after CCPA took action against them.

The CCPA has passed an order against Tekshiv Systems for selling pressure cookers under the Quba brand on e-commerce platforms without the quality mark, the statement said, adding that the company has been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 1,00,000 for selling sub-standard products to consumers.

The Authority said that Rau’s IAS Study Circle has been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 1,00,000 for publishing misleading advertisement. Seekers Education, the CCPA said has been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 50,000 for publishing a misleading advertisement, according to the statement.

The CCPA has taken action against online travel portals Yatra, HappyEasyGo and Easymytrip for not reimbursing consumers of the booking amount for the bookings cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the statement said.

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Pursuant to the action initiated by the CCPA, the number of bookings cancelled and pending refund due to Covid-19 pandemic has reduced significantly from 22,974 to 10,705 on Yatra, it said.

“From Rs 14.69 crore pending for refund on 13.08.2022, the amount pending for refund has now reduced to Rs 7.46 crore,” the Central Consumer Protection Authority, headed by Chief Commissioner Nidhi Khare said.

The CCPA has also taken action against HappyEasyGo and Easymytrip with regard to refund of pending bookings.

Around 3,722 bookings are pending for refund with HappyEasyGo since July 2021. As per the 5th August 2022 Order, the company was directed to furnish the accurate details of booking affected due to lockdown, how many have been refunded, how many remain pending along with reasons for pendency, the CCPA said.

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The company did not respond despite repeated reminders and later on March 23 the matter was referred to the District Collector, Gurugram for appropriate investigation.

“Action has also been initiated against Easymytrip. From 379 bookings pending on 01.07.2022, the number of pending bookings has now reduced to 39 as on 30.05.2023,” the CCPA said.

Besides travel portals, the CCPA has passed orders against several companies indulging in violation of consumer rights, misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices.

In the case of Rau’s IAS Study Circle, the CCPA said the company has been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 1,00,000 for publishing misleading advertisements.

On examination of the matter, it was found that out of 143 aspirants, 111 belonged to the Interview Guidance Program (IGP). It was observed by CCPA that unlike other courses, the IGP Course is not a full-time course. The IGP Course comes into play only after an aspirant has cleared the Prelims examination and the Mains Examination of the UPSC-CSE.

“Hence, claiming that an aspirant is a ‘successful student’ of RAU’s IAS Study Circle, in absence of necessary disclosure with regard to the course opted by the aspirant, constitutes misleading advertisement under the Act,” the CCPA said.

Therefore, the claim “Hundreds of Rau’s IAS Study Circle students aced the UPSC exam this year as well” can undeniably mislead consumers with regard to the actual role played by the opposite party in successfully clearing the exam by an aspirant, it added.

With regard to the Seekers Education, the CCPA said, “….claiming a success ratio of 99.99%, in absence of any substantiation, misleads consumers in general and the targeted section i.e., aspirants preparing for such exams in particular,”

The company has been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 50,000 for publishing a misleading advertisement.

The Authority passed an order against ‘Seekers Education’ for publishing an advertisement making the claim “Be it online or offline, We are the best’ and ‘99.99% in JEE 2021’ in the Trichy edition of Dinamalar newspaper on May 9 2021.

It has also passed an order against Tekshiv Systems Pvt Ltd for selling poor quality domestic pressure cookers under the ‘Quba’ brand on e-commerce platforms. The CCPA said it violated the mandatory standards as prescribed under the Domestic Pressure Cooker (Quality Control) Order, 2020.

The company has been directed to recall the 101 units of pressure cookers sold by it, reimburse the prices of the recalled pressure cookers to the purchasers and submit a compliance report within 45 days.

The company has also been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 1,00,000 for selling domestic pressure cookers to consumers in violation of mandatory standards prescribed under the Quality Control Order (QCO), the CCPA said.

During the visit, it was found that the company was having a domestic pressure cooker of 5-litre capacity “without standard mark”. Two pieces of the pressure cooker were also purchased as material evidence along with invoice and challan.

The manufactured date found on the pressure cooker without standard mark i.e 01.10.2021 was clearly beyond the date on which the QCO came into force i.e., 01.02.2021. The company sold 19 units on Amazon, 67 units on Flipkart, 8 units on Shopclues and 7 units on Paytm Mall, taking the total to 101 units.

“The company has admittedly given its consent to online platforms to recall the domestic pressure cookers,” the Authority said and added that the violation of standards mandated by the QCOs not only endangers public safety, but can make consumers vulnerable to severe injuries including loss of life.

This is a critical cause for concern especially in the case of domestic pressure cookers, which are household goods present in most homes in the immediate vicinity of family members, it added.

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