29 March 2016, Bangkok – Civil Court dismisses a defamation lawsuit filed by Platinum Motor Sales against consumers who lodged a complaint about the faulty vans bought from the company with the Office of The Consumer Protection Board (OCPB) and went public with their grievances. The lawsuit sought a damage of 5 million baht from consumers.
The Criminal Court on 29 March 2016 has dismissed a defamation lawsuit against 20 people (one Foundation for Consumers’ officer and 19 clients of Platinum Motor Sales, a distributor of Foton vans from China). These consumers decided to go public with their grievances and officially filed their complaints with the Office of The Consumer Protection Board and Foundation for Consumers after repeatedly experiencing problems with their vehicles and trying in vain to seek responsibilities from the company, The Court dismissed all consumers from the charges. The Court ruled that the publicizing of the information is an honest criticism to protect the consumers’ own benefit.
Songpol Puangthong, one of the defendants, said “I am very happy and I thank the court for giving a fair treatment to consumers. I was disappointed by the move by Platinum Motor Sales to accuse consumers of lie and defamation when we merely exercised our rights under consumer protection law to present the truth and protect our rights. We hope the company will respect consumers’ rights by not making an appeal.
Chalermpong Klabdee, Head of Volunteer Lawyers Center- Foundation for Consumers, said the ruling means these consumers did nothing wrong. They made an honest criticism and did not tell lies. They were just telling the public what really happened.
“When we encounter bad or defective products, we just have to come out and tell the truth with supporting evidence. This is one good example of the saying: Filing one formal complaint is better than grumbling on your own a thousand times.
Chalermpol said the company should only sell the vehicles that have passed the test in Thailand and make sure they follow their own claims in the advertisement regarding service centers and spare parts. Their business should be conducted morally, not with the single purpose of reeling in profits from consumers.
Tanat Thamisakul, a case officer with the Center for the Protection of Consumer Rights – Foundation for Consumers, said “This is a sample case of businesses trying to sue consumers. We have worked with the Volunteer Lawyers Center and the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection, Ministry of Justice, providing bails in the process and assisting the defendants.
“This court may have dismissed these consumers of the charge but we still have to wait and see if the company will make an appeal. However, consumers should not be afraid to demand justice. This will be part of social norms. When experiencing damages or violation of rights, what you need to do is start collecting all the evidence: such as photos, receipts, and correspondent documents between you and the company, or even contact memos, Tanat said.
By Sasiwan Parinyart and Smart Sarovat, Foundation for Consumers (FFC)
Photo: pixabay.com, consumerthai.org