Hyderabad: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Hyderabad, has directed Beacon Holidays Pvt. Ltd, a travel company, to pay a compensation of Rs 2.75 lakh after one of its customers was targeted by robbers abroad.

The order came on a complaint by Avinash Gupta, a resident of Hyderabad. After doing much research on service providers, Gupta had approached Beacon Holidays in 2016 with a request to plan a holiday for him and his family members to South Africa. Based on his request, Beacon worked out a 10-day itinerary. The complainant paid Rs 3,46,774 towards the trip and boarded a plane from Hyderabad.

On the final day of the trip, Gupta and his family members were en route to Johannesburg when their car was stopped by a group of people. The gang threatened the family and robbed them of their valuables and US$600.

“The Itinerary offered to us does not discloses any such security and safety measures to be taken while travelling in South Africa. Had the Opposite Party [Beacon] cautioned us about the high-security levels and crime levels as enumerated the incident could not have happened,” said Gupta in his complaint.

The sequence of the events and the style of robbery made Gupta conclude that the agent of the Opposite Party in South Africa along with the cab owner-cum-driver had hatched a plan to rob them. Alleging deficiencies in service, he demanded adequate compensation from the Opposite Party in US currency.

In its response, Beacon said, “We have never experienced any similar kind of unforeseen incident in the past 20 years of our business in South Africa. We extended our utmost support to the Complainant at the time of the incident. Our local travel in charge immediately got in touch with the Complainant and saw to it that he and his family reached the airport safely and ensured that the local operator filed the criminal complaint.”

The consumer forum in its judgement said, “It is clear that the ill-fated incident happened and valuables and money of the Complainant and his family were robbed and thrashed them by some group of people en-route to Johannesburg on the final day of the trip at South Africa.” It said the Opposite Party cannot get off scot-free from the liability for the robbery that took place in South Africa.

While Gupta failed to furnish the cost of valuables taken away by the robbers and the evidence that he was in possession of US$600 as claimed in the complaint, the forum said, “However, the complainant is entitled to some compensation on ‘non-standard basis’.” In its final statement, the consumer forum directed Beacon Holidays to pay Rs 2.75 lakh to Gupta towards the loss of valuables and money and the compensation for inadequate security provided to him.

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

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