Arunkumar Bhavani and five members of his family in his petition said that he had approached the firm to make travel arrangements for a tour of Europe and furnished the passports for all the six.The passports of two children, Saloni and Anmol, were carrying photographs taken when they were aged five and three.But the passports were valid till 2008. The travel firm stated that it was not a problem and promised to process the applications and arrange for visa.
Mr. Bhavani remitted Rs. 4,29,600 and the remaining was to be paid on May 30, 2007. With hardly five days left for the travel, the firm told the applicant that visa could not be processed for the two children.Mr. Bhavani told the firm that new passports could not be procured in five days time and it was difficult to reschedule the travel programme. The travel firm deducted Rs. 1,59,600 towards processing charges and refunded only the remaining amount. This was contested by the petitioner.
The petitioner contended that he had written to the travel firm stating that as he could not postpone the travel, he had expressed his willingness to travel next year and had asked the travel firm to retain few thousands of rupees as advance money and refund the remaining balance rather than deducting the processing charges and refunding the money to him.For which, there was no response from the travel firm, the petitioner said.
The firm contended that they only process the visa applications and never offer any consultation or help in obtaining the visa.The decision to grant visa or deny was a prerogative of the consulate concerned and stated that there was no deficiency in service on the part of the travel firm.
As against the normal processing charge of Rs. 55,000 a passenger for cancellation of trips within a short time span before the commencement of the journey, the travel firm said that only Rs, 26,000 was deducted a passenger.The forum concluded that failure to respond to the letter from the petitioner was also a deficiency in service and non-application of mind about the mismatch of the photographs in the passport despite being pointed out by the applicant was again carelessness amounting to deficiency in service.
The forum directed the travel firm to refund Rs. 1,59,000 deducted from the applicant along with 12 per cent interest from the date of filing of the petition – December 18, 2007 – till the date of settlement, Rs. 60,000 towards mental agony caused to the consumer and Rs. 1,000 towards the cost of litigation.
The settlement has to be effected within two months failing which the petitioner was at liberty to execute the orders under section 25 and 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, the order said.