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National consumer disputes body awards Rs 2 crore compensation for a haircut gone massively wrong at ITC Maurya salon

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New Delhi, Sept 23 (ILNS) The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, awarded Rs 2 crore compensation to the complainant in a case filed against the Salon at Hotel ITC Maurya, New Delhi alleging deficiency in service and causing irreparable damage to her hair.

The complainant filed the present complaint alleging deficiency in service on the part of the Salon at Hotel Maurya and sought written apology from the ITC Management as well as compensation of 3 crores for harassment, humiliation and mental trauma.

The NCDRC issued notice and both the parties were directed to submit written statement. Yogesh Deveshwar, the chairman of ITC Company Ltd, contended that he is Non-Executive Chairman of the company and complainant’s haircut were of high quality and these services were provided to her without consideration as a goodwill gesture as she had received the services at the Salon in the past. Complainant is not a ‘Consumer’ as defined u/s 2(1) (d) of the Act as the allegations made in the Complaint do not constitute a ‘Consumer Dispute’, Chairman ITC said.

Further, the compensation of Rs 3 crore claimed in the complaint, is inflated, exaggerated and without any basis. No documentary evidence has been adduced by the Complainant justifying such a huge claim and the Complaint deserves to be dismissed for want of pecuniary jurisdiction. 

The ITC Limited is one of the India’s foremost multi-business company and the complaint has been filed with a malafide intention to malign its reputation and goodwill and to extract unreasonably high and exaggerated compensation. The team at the Salon which provided the services of hairstyling and hair treatment to the Complainant is good and well trained by Moehair Experts. Christine Hou, who did the hair-cutting of the Complainant, has 27 years of experience and she is well known for hair-styling.

The Complainant in her Rejoinder filed before the court denied the contentions of ITC and filed an affidavit stating that the hairdresser Christine did chop off her hair and caused an irreparable damage to her. She never had short hair, the complainant said, and the chemicals used by ITC in the Salon for hair treatment, caused permanent damage to her scalp which can be established from the medical treatment certificate issued to her by Dr Ranjit Kumar Das, MBBS. In his certificate, Dr Das stated that “Aashna Roy has been suffering harsh chemical treatment on her hair-greying hair, scalp infection, dryness and itching as well as hair loss and she is advised to renew medication.”  

The court after hearing the complainant and the counsel for ITC at length and also after going through the material available on record, evidence adduced before us and Written Submissions filed by them with regard to the preliminary objection taken by the opposite parties that the Complainant is not a “Consumer” as defined u/s 2 (1)(d) of the Act since no consideration was paid for hair cutting and treatment, they do not find any substance in the said contention.

It cannot be believed that the company which is established for profit motive would provide free services with huge infrastructure, trained staff and management.

Keeping in mind the observations of the Apex Court in a catena of judgments with respect to awarding compensation, we are of the considered view that the reasonable and just compensation is to be awarded to the Complainant. There is no doubt that the women are very cautious and careful with regard to their hair. They spend a handsome amount on keeping the hair in good condition. They are also emotionally attached with their hair. The Complainant was a model for hair products because of her long hair. She has done modeling for VLCC and Pantene. But due to hair cutting against her instructions, by the salon she lost her expected assignments and suffered a huge loss which completely changed her lifestyle and shattered her dream to be a top model. 

The complainant, Aashna Roy, visited the Salon of Hotel ITC Maurya, New Delhi (Group of ITC Hotels) for hairstyling to have a clean and groomed appearance before the Interview Panel. According to the Complainant, she specifically instructed the hairdresser Christine for long flicks/layers covering her face in the front and at the back and 4-inch straight hair trim from the bottom. The hairdresser Christine chopped off her entire hair leaving only 4 inches from the top and barely touching her shoulders for which she was not instructed.

Firstly, a complaint was made to the Manager of the Salon, Gurpreet Acharya and she was not given any bill for hairstyling though generally she was earlier being charged heavily. It is stated that because of the hair cutting, the Complainant was not looking pretty and she stopped to lead her normal busy life.

As no action was taken against the hairdresser, the Complainant called the General Manger of the Salon, Zubin Songadwala, to look into the matter. However, he misbehaved with her stating that she was free to take any action against the Salon.

Consequently, the Complainant called Dipak Haksar, CEO of ITC Ltd. And an offer was also made to her by the Opposite Parties for extension of hair for interview or for treatment of hair free of costs for which she agreed after lot of persuasion. 

At the time of treatment, her hair and scalp got completely damaged with excess ammonia and there was lot of irritation in the scalp. Complainant asserted that the hairdresser scratched and cut her entire scalp with his nails on the pretext that she was doing this exercise to open the hair cuticles. But, when the cream was applied on her scalp, it was laden with ammonia, and her scalp got burnt, the complainant alleged./ILNS/ KR/SNG

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