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Old 14th September 2017, 13:00   #1
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Lightbulb Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)-screen-shot-20170914-12.41.38-pm.png

The apex consumer commission has directed luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz India and Daimler Chrysler India to pay over Rs 10.25 lakh to the owner of a Mercedes car, holding them guilty of unfair trade practice.The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has asked the German car maker to pay C G Power and Industrial Solutions Limited, also known as Crompton Greaves, the owner of the vehicle.

Sudhir M Trehan, former Managing Director of electrical company 'Crompton Greaves', had met with an accident in 2006 while riding E240 car, on account of faulty frontal airbags. He was returning from Nasik to Mumbai after an official trip, the vehicle, being driven by an employee of the company, collided head-on with a goods-carrier and the impact was so high that its entire front portion was smashed.

The driver suffered minor injuries while Trehan suffered grievous injuries and was hospitalised for more than six weeks.Despite collision, none of the air bags of the vehicle opened in time. The complainant said that MD might have suffered less injuries or probably no injury at all if the airbags had worked.


The Commission asked the global automobile manufacturer to provide adequate information on the deployment or triggering of the airbags of the vehicle in consultation with the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) in the owner's manual and its website.

"The opposite parties indulged in acts of unfair trade practice by not giving complete material information to the buyers with respect to the functioning and triggering of the front airbags provided in the car," a bench presided by NCDRC member V K Jain said.

"I hold that the frontal airbags of the vehicle were defective and that was the reason they did not deploy even in a frontal collision between the car and a container truck which had resulted in severe damages to the front portion of the car," he said.

The Commission has directed the car maker to pay sum of Rs 5 lakh to the owner firm for the deficiency in the services rendered to it on account of the airbags of the car having not deployed or triggered.It also awarded Rs 5 lakh to the company, which owned the car, for the unfair trade practice indulged into by the maker and Rs 25,000 as cost.

According to the compliant, C G Power and Industrial Solutions Limited, purchased the car for its MD in 2002 after paying Rs 45.38 lakh, which was proclaimed by the manufacturer to be the safest on road.

The commission noted that from the manual of the vehicle, it was clear that the side airbags were triggered only on the side on which an impact occurs in an accident and that the said airbags are independent of the front airbags.

"The Manual ... does not disclose as to what the said predetermined level was. If the front airbags were not to deploy in every accident resulting in front end impact, the opposite parties (car maker), in my view, ought to have disclosed to the buyers as to what the predetermined level necessary to trigger the front passenger airbag were.

"In the absence of such a disclosure in the owner's manual, as far as the functioning of the front passenger airbags are concerned would be deficient, on account of its not providing the requisite information to the buyer," the Commission said in the order.

"Highlighting the safety features including the airbags for selling the vehicle, without such a disclosure, in my opinion, constituted an unfair and deceptive trade practice," it added.

PTI

Last edited by johannskaria : 14th September 2017 at 13:06.
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Old 14th September 2017, 13:11   #2
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

10L is peanuts. Carmakers should be made to shell out much much more considering the importance of the part here.
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Old 14th September 2017, 14:18   #3
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kartavya View Post
10L is peanuts. Carmakers should be made to shell out much much more considering the importance of the part here.
In legal cases like this, it is not 'amount' of fine which matters.
It is the mental/aspirational victory achieved by the consumer & demolishment of the Ego of the Car Maker, which matters the most.

The customer here was the MD of Crompton Greaves, and extracting cash would not have been the real reason behind the case.
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Old 14th September 2017, 14:38   #4
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Sorry but this looks like a joke to me.
There are so many open-ended and border-line meaningless things in that article.

1. ".......had met with an accident in 2006 while riding E240 car, on account of faulty frontal airbags." What on earth does this mean? How do you meet with an accident because of faulty airbags??
2. No OEM "discloses" how airbags are triggered. And no, it does not amount to "unfair trade practices". Airbag deployment depends on multiple factors. This article does not mention anything about the accident itself, apart from saying it was a head-on collision.
3. Did the car slide under the truck during the collision? Was the area where airbag sensors are placed, affected to trigger airbag deployment? There are no pictures of the accident. The article says the accident happened in 2006 - good chance that there were no under-run bars on the truck involved.

This judgement just sounds like a knee-jerk reaction.

Last edited by Kaumad : 14th September 2017 at 14:40.
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Old 14th September 2017, 15:13   #5
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
In legal cases like this, it is not 'amount' of fine which matters.
It is the mental/aspirational victory achieved by the consumer & demolishment of the Ego of the Car Maker, which matters the most.

The customer here was the MD of Crompton Greaves, and extracting cash would not have been the real reason behind the case.
Don't think anyone would care about extracting cash when you could lose your life. My point being if the fines are heavier then the companies would be more stringent and we could probably see fewer issues.
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Old 14th September 2017, 16:20   #6
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek46 View Post
In legal cases like this, it is not 'amount' of fine which matters.
It is the mental/aspirational victory achieved by the consumer & demolishment of the Ego of the Car Maker, which matters the most.

The customer here was the MD of Crompton Greaves, and extracting cash would not have been the real reason behind the case.
He is a bit of an aggressive vindictive character.

Some questions

1: Was it proven that the air bag sensors failed?

2: Was Mr Trehan wearing a seatbelt, where in the car was he sitting?

Quite possible that the top end of the bonnet impacted the truck bypassing the sensors, even more possible, Mr T was not wearing a belt, the car stopped in time with a minor impact to the truck and he got injured since he was thrown forward.

Were any detailed forensics performed ? (This is India!)

Last edited by ajmat : 15th September 2017 at 10:36.
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Old 15th September 2017, 10:19   #7
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

From the above posts I get the sense that the majority of posts appear to be apologists on behalf of Daimler-Benz & feel that the customer is making a mountain out of a molehill.

The whole air-bags issue is a grey area, where " No OEM "discloses" how airbags are triggered". And what are we supposed to do? Twiddle thumbs & hope for the best? Or are we such a bunch of ignorant nitwits that we believe all the fairy tales that an "OEM" doles out? As I've mentioned more than once before, air-bags in cars & inflatable life-rafts in sea going vessels - are both areas where smoke-screens are in place to make it difficult to corner the guilty in case of casualties. Both the car manufacturer & vendor/supplier should be awarded exemplary punishment - not the peanuts of 10L mentioned in the case.
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Old 15th September 2017, 10:37   #8
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by shashanka View Post
From the above posts I get the sense that the majority of posts appear to be apologists on behalf of Daimler-Benz & feel that the customer is making a mountain out of a molehill.
.
I beg to defer, I think the judgement should be made through better forensic evidence
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Old 15th September 2017, 10:57   #9
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Default re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
I beg to defer, I think the judgement should be made through better forensic evidence
This article offers some more information:
Car Maker Must Cough Up Rs 10.25L For Faulty Airbags


Quote:
The first opposition by Mercedes-Benz was that the car was being used for official work and therefore Trehan could not claim he was a consumer. However, earlier judgments were cited to show otherwise.

It appears that Mercedes-Benz carried out an investigation into what happened.
Quote:
The company further said Trehan’s vehicle was involved in a “minor frontal under-ride against a container truck”. They said that the damage was only to the softer parts of the upper front section of the vehicle, which further reduces the impact shock on the car’s occupants. And such an impact was not enough to trigger the airbags and provide additional protection to the driver, who was hardly injured, being saved by the seatbelt. They also said there was no side impact force for the side airbags to be deployed. Also, that the technical report said there was no defect in the car.
As a side note, there's also this Team-BHP thread from 2012, detailing serious allegations against Mercedes-Benz India by Cama Motors - The Truth about Mercedes India, according to Cama Motors (Ex-Mercedes Dealer)

Last edited by spindoc : 15th September 2017 at 11:07. Reason: Added link
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Old 15th September 2017, 15:55   #10
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Default Re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kartavya View Post
10L is peanuts. Carmakers should be made to shell out much much more considering the importance of the part here.
It's setting a precedent that manufacturers cannot get away with anything. Judgements like these help keep the market safe for customers like us.

Also a mental victory for the owner (as Abhishek46 said), not to mention the negative publicity caused to Mercedes. The last point affects the manufacturer the most.

The MD of Crompton Greaves wouldn't spend so much time for 10 lakh rupees; he would however do so to get even. Furthermore, Mercedes would have spent a lot more than 10 lakhs on legal expenses + management time. That's got to hurt. In the future, if a customer has a similar complaint, they will make all these calculations (cheaper to settle than to fight).

I loved this part from the Mumbai Mirror article:

Quote:
The commission then ordered for the owner’s manual to be produced. While Benz said it could not find the 15-year-old manual, Trehan produced one
. Man, this dude was determined. I like him already.
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Old 15th September 2017, 16:31   #11
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Default Re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Going through this thread and its off-shoots (the 2012 T-Bhp thread re. Cama Motors, and Mr. Saraf's fatal accident in his S class) only confirms a long held belief - that we are naive if we put a commercial enterprise on a pedestal of transparent altruism. And now in light of the ongoing VW emissions-gate scandal, my belief is strengthened - that behind the facade of Teutonic engg. excellence lurks a criminal mind-set as adept as any that one can imagine, and on a scale (the emissions-gate is on a global scale & VW's subsequent brazen arrogance on being caught with their pants down)

Last edited by theMAG : 16th September 2017 at 17:53. Reason: Removing comparisons with mass genocide! Thanks.
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Old 16th September 2017, 14:33   #12
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Default Re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

I am a little skeptical of this but if Daimler lost, there must be a good reason why they couldn't defend themselves.
Anyway, how come the employee, which likely refers to as chauffeur, escaped without any injuries in a frontal collision and not the passenger? Maybe the passenger was sitting in the front and the point of impact was towards the left side.
Or he was sitting in the back, like most people who hire chauffeurs do and flew forward when the car collided, as there is a good chance that he wasn't belted in the back.
This was in '06, when the awareness regarding safety was much less in India, many drivers avoided seat belts.
Or the sensors on the Mercedes were really kaput.
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Old 16th September 2017, 19:16   #13
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Default Re: Mercedes ordered to pay Rs. 10 lakh to E-Class owner (airbags didn't open in accident)

Quote:
Originally Posted by shashanka View Post
The whole air-bags issue is a grey area, where " No OEM "discloses" how airbags are triggered". And what are we supposed to do? Twiddle thumbs & hope for the best? Or are we such a bunch of ignorant nitwits that we believe all the fairy tales that an "OEM" doles out? As I've mentioned more than once before, air-bags in cars & inflatable life-rafts in sea going vessels - are both areas where smoke-screens are in place to make it difficult to corner the guilty in case of casualties. Both the car manufacturer & vendor/supplier should be awarded exemplary punishment - not the peanuts of 10L mentioned in the case.
Very valid point - Generally I have observed that most of us on team bhp have been advocates of safety, and we have always pushed for and favoured manufacturers who provide active safety features and make them ready available in the cars. We have also recommended that folks should buy the airbag variants, but after seeing so many accident pictures where airbags failed to open, and with manufacturers getting away with the "there are many factors" argument - Why is there no transparency?

If i am spending a ton on active safety equipment, do I not deserve some visibility into the capabilities of what I am paying for, instead of just the manufacturer's word ( which is now increasingly under question) that it will work under the right circumstances? If their word is only what we get, instead of the specifics, can we not hold them accountable?

I think that was the point of this case, and its a good precedent.
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