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In an offbeat legal victory, Shekhar Hattangadi, a 69-year-old resident of Mumbai, has secured Rs 2 lakh in compensation from travel entities responsible for an inconvenience he faced during his journey. The incident dates back to 2018 when Hattangadi, having paid Rs 745 for a ticket from Surat to Mumbai, found himself dropped 50 km away from the city on his way home.

The compensation amount, mandated by the local consumer commission, is to be paid collectively by Mantis Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Paulo Travels Pvt. Ltd, and Myron Pereira, acting CEO of the latter. The ruling reflects the significance of consumer rights in the travel sector.

What Actually Happended?

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Ticket Purchase (2018): Hattangadi purchased the ticket online from the travel portal Travekyaari.com on December 12, 2018, for a journey from Surat to Mumbai.

Miscommunication and Deviation: Upon boarding, Hattangadi realized that the correct pick-up point in Surat was not provided. Subsequently, he was compelled to disembark around 50 km from Mumbai due to the bus’s deviation from the main highway.

Communication Breakdown: Complaints lodged by Hattangadi revealed that Paulo Travels failed to communicate the route change adequately, promising an alternative arrangement that did not materialize.

Mental Agony and Travel Hassles: Forced to make travel arrangements independently at odd hours and locations, Hattangadi experienced significant mental agony and inconvenience, particularly considering his status as a senior citizen.

Consumer Commission’s Verdict:

The local consumer commission, acknowledging the distress caused to Hattangadi, ruled that the travel entities were liable for compensation. The commission emphasized that it was the duty of the travel providers to inform Hattangadi in advance about the route change and offer suitable alternatives.

The commission stated, “The complainant is entitled to get compensation,” recognizing the mental and physical stress caused by the travel mishap. Mantis Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Paulo Travels Pvt. Ltd, and Myron Pereira were instructed to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation along with an additional Rs 2,000 to cover court filing and transportation costs.

Corporate Response and Responsibility:

Despite an apology email from Mantis Technologies Pvt. Ltd, the entities involved did not accept responsibility for the inconvenience caused. The ruling underscores the importance of transparent communication, accountability, and adherence to consumer rights in the travel industry.

This case serves as a precedent for ensuring that travel providers prioritize customer welfare, especially when deviations from the planned route lead to significant disruptions. The compensation awarded reflects the legal system’s commitment to protecting consumers from undue inconvenience and distress.

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