The apex consumer forum has directed Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to make its website more consumer friendly, observing that it is “inaccessible” most of the time and needs “drastic improvement”.
“The IRCTC website should be fool proof and needs drastic improvement. Most of the consumers/passengers suffer from the IRCTC website… Most of the time the website of the opposite party (IRCTC) is inaccessible for hours together,” the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) said.
“Therefore, we feel it necessary to issue certain directions as the opposite party should take necessary steps to improve their website which should be user/consumer friendly, fast and perfect in all aspects. It is the need of hour for consumers at large in our country,” a bench headed by Justice J M Malik said.
It also observed that “rules of IRCTC for refund of e-ticket (if passenger has not travelled on the train) appear to be unilaterally framed for its own benefit”.
The bench held that IRCTC’s prevalent procedure for refund of e-ticket charges as “not proper” and “practically impossible” as it expects a passenger who has cancelled his ticket to go to the railway station and search for the ticket checking staff to get a certificate issued from them that he has not undertaken the journey.
“Such e-ticket refund procedure is not just proper which is practically impossible and not helpful to the consumers at large. Instead of seeking refund most of the passengers will prefer to forgo the money…,” the bench said.
The direction and the observations were made while dismissing as “without merit” the plea of a man who had booked tickets for his neighbours through the IRCTC website and had sought refund saying they had not travelled as only one of them had got a confirmed seat.
He had moved the NCDRC against orders of the Chhattisgarh state and district consumer fora which had dismissed his complaint against IRCTC.
The NCDRC dismissed his plea saying that he acted as a agent and not a consumer in order to be protected under the Consumer Protection Act.