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Home > Business > Special


Investment blues? Help is just a click away!

Pankaj Anup Toppo, Outlook Money | October 24, 2007

The Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1986. Although it opened a new redressal window for aggrieved consumers, the large number of cases filed in the consumer courts delayed the process. Also, there was no single-window redressal system, especially for retail investors. Keeping this in mind, Investor Helpline (www.investorhelpline.in), a dedicated online service for retail investors, was launched in September 2006. 

The response to the website has been lukewarm, but the redressal mechanism has generated good results. Of the complaints registered, almost 62 per cent were resolved (see Investor Helpline), in contrast to the other consumer grievance forums. So, if you are an investor who has been short-changed, knock on Investor Helpline's door.

The driving force. The idea of having such a portal was conceived by Midas Touch Investors Association (MTIA), an organisation associated with taking up the cause of retail investors since 1995. It was instrumental in getting a relief of Rs 975 crore to unitholders of Canstar, a Canbank MF scheme, and the consequential changes in MF regulations. The funding came from Investor Education and Protection Fund, Ministry of Corporate Affairs. 

Virendra Jain, director, MTIA, says, "The idea was to have a service that could be easily accessed from anywhere and the Internet was the most effective medium."

Getting started. You need to register on the website before you file your complaint. As of now the helpline caters to around 11 types of complaints. "In future, we will broaden the sphere," says Jain. These complaints include issues like non-receipt of refund order, dividend, offer for rights issue, among others. After registering, file your complaint under an appropriate head. You will be allotted a specific ID, which will help you track the status of your complaint. You will have to mention the name of the company against which you have a grievance. The company's name may or may not be in the portal's database. "In case our database does not have the name, we will check the authenticity of the company. If we are able to trace the company, then we add its details to our database. The entire process typically takes 72 working hours," says Jain.

The backend process. Once Investor Helpline receives the complaint, it approaches the company, in writing, and requests them to intervene in the matter. If no reply is received in 15 days, the matter is taken up with the stock exchange where the company is listed. 

Complaints related to company deposits are taken to the registrar of companies. If the companies still do not respond, the matter is taken up with the regulator. Says Jain, "Usually, by this time the company responds and the problem gets solved. But, if the company has closed down, responses are hard to come by and we close the file after 180 days of receiving the complaint." Once a problem is solved companies typically inform the helpline through a letter, a copy of which is sent to the consumer as well. 

The response. The site has close to 3,870 registered investors. Two-thirds of the complaints come from tier-II and tier-III cities, such as Agra, Bokaro and Kochi. 


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