1. Petitioner is present in person. Counsel for the respondent No.1 is present. Arguments heard.
2. The petitioner, Yogendra Babu Sharma, got the booking, for four persons, from England from Bhraman Tours & Travels-OP No. 1, British Airways-OP No. 2. Firstly the travel agent was asked to book tickets from London to Delhi on 01-08-2011 and return ticket on 31-08-2011. Subsequently, the complainant wanted to change his programme. He sent an email letter to the respondent changing his itinerary and requesting that he will be coming to Delhi on 16-12-2011 and would like to go back on 30-12-2011. This email was sent on 28-07-2011.
3. To the said request the respondent No.1 replied on 29-07-2011. The relevant extract of the said email is reproduced as hereunder:
'Kindly find charges as levied for change of itinerary
Change penalty (GBP 100 – about INR 7500)
Plus (Change of fare – INR 17052)
Plus (Change of taxes and surcharges from previous ticket-INR1888)
Total charges - INR 26440 per person
You may get it confirmed from BA office in London. Even London office can make necessary changes and can reissue you tickets after relevant fee and charges.
Hope the above is in order.'
4. Two facts are notable. Firstly the complainant did not send Rs.26,440/- per person total being Rs.1,05,760/-. Secondly, he opted for the second option and went to the London office. On the same day Mr. Yogendra Babu Sharma, complainant, sent another letter to the respondent/OP No.1 which runs as follows:
'Please refer my email that I wrote to you this morning, you haven’t replied it so far. It is an expensive family tickets and I am sorry to say that your office has not acted seriously on this issue. Besides, this case has a unique and one ticket booking reference accordingly. It should have been treated as single change. I cannot begin to understand that why are you charging unusual (four times) penalty for introducing one change.
Further British Airways says that this booking reference belongs to a travel agent, hence, as policy any changes can be made by the travel agent. In contrast you are asking us to get it done through British Airways London office. It is very disappointing as we don’t know whose information is correct. Also when we tried to make changes online pop up window says that we regret that your booking cannot be changed on ba.com. Please contact your booking agent. So we do not have any right to manage our booking on line either.
It is quite frustrating and we don’t know what to do in this situation. I shall be looking forward to hear a solution to this problem from you.'
5. On 30-07-2011 the British Airways, UK asked the complainant to contact his travel agent. On the same day, the complainant sent another email to the respondent/OP No.1 which runs as follows:
'British Airways has once again denied making any changes in this booking. It means either of you have furnished the wrong information to us. We would obviously scan the information that you provided to Ashish about refunds and changes.
Although it was already made clear to you in my previous emails, I would like to confirm it again that we are not going to travel on these dates of previous dates of present booking. We are also informed this fact to the British Airways office. There is, therefore, no question of no show arise.
Apart from financial losses it is a disgrace to us. To move forward could you ask the British Airways UK that why did they refuse to make any changes/refunds for this booking? That might confirm the authenticity of your information as well.'
6. The petitioner could not travel because needful could not be done till the eleventh hour. He had to miss the bus. Consequently, he filed a complaint before the District Forum praying that the OPs be directed to refund the ticket amount in the sum of Rs.1,61,053/- for failing to change the date of tickets and they be further burdened with amount of Rs.50,000/- for travelling and Rs.2,00,000/- for mental agony and Rs.10,000/- for litigation expenses. The District Forum dismissed the complaint.
7. Aggrieved by that order, an appeal was preferred before the State Commission. The State Commission too, dismissed the appeal.
8. We have heard both the parties, none appeared for OP No.2, and perused the above said emails. To our mind this is a matter of contributory negligence. So far as OP No. 1 is concerned, his letter dated 29-07-2011 is crucial. It is difficult to fathom why did he advise the complainant to confirm the tickets from the office at London or make necessary changes thereon. It was the bounden duty of the OP No.1 to do the needful immediately. The time was running out. It should have assumed that a wee bit delay would make the tickets redundant. This is an exercise in shirking and fudging rather than confronting the issue. It shows negligence, inaction and passivity on the part of OP No. 1. It did not perform its duty properly but on the contrary gave the wrong advice. An agent is supposed to know what is the procedure. What are the duties of a service provider to help or mislead?
9. Now, we turn to the role of the complainant. He was asked to pay Rs.26,440/- per person vide email dated 29-07-2011. He should have sent the money immediately. The amount could have been sent immediately through internet banking. The complainant could have assured the OP No.1 that he would pay the money or the money was already sent whi
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ch the OP would get during the course of the time. There is no willingness on the part of the complainant that he would pay the amount. The assurance simplicitor would have gone a long way to turn the corner. Consequently, we allow the revision petition and direct the OP No.1 to pay 50% of the amount of Rs.1,61,065/- which comes to Rs.80,530/- (rounded off). The said amount be paid to the petitioner by the OP No.1 within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of copy of this order otherwise it will carry interest at the rate of 9% per annum till its realization. The revision petition stands disposed of.