Sheela Foam Sleepwell Mattress — Cheating Dealer (Ms Ajantha Foam), Conniving Employees ( Mr. Eappen, Mr. Prakash)
I bought a Sleepwell mattress from the Calicut dealer of Sheela Foam - M/s Ajantha Foam, Bank Road, Calicut. This mattress had a claimed warranty of 25 years, and was premium priced (no doubt).
Within a few months the mattress began to stink, giving off a "burning rubber" smell. After calling up Ajantha a few times, they relented and inspected the mattress at my premises and recommended putting it out in the sun. Imagine carrying out a 6 ft X 6 ft mattress outside every day. Considering this to be insufficient and impractical, I sent an email to the customer service of Sheela foam on the address specified on their site : [protected]@sheelafoam.com. Within a few days I got this reply :
Dear Mr Srikanth R.
Your complaint had been forwarded to our particular zone where it will be taken care of. The concerned person is Mr Ajay Prakash His mobile number is [protected], For any furthur query feel free to call our Helpline at the number given below.
Sheela Foam Pvt Ltd.
37/2 Site 4, Sahibabad
After receiving this email, Mr Varghese Eappen called me up and introduced himself as a representative of the company and said he was too pressed for time at that moment, but would personally inspect the mattress in his next visit. A few months later, after many reminder calls to Mr. Eappen, I called up Mr Ajay Prakash, and told him about the eccentric Mr. Eappen and the stinking mattress. This seemed to have woken up Mr. Eappen who showed up at my doorstep soon after that.
He inspected the mattress and declared it a FAKE. What is more, a relative who also bought from Ajantha on my recommendation was also sold a FAKE mattress. Mr. Eappen told me a long tale about how the company had known that Ajantha was dealing in fakes and how they had terminated the contract (seems the company chairman himself descended to Calicut to dress down the dealer). He also said that they had put up an ad in local newspaper to alert the public about the termination of the dealership (though I do not recollect seeing such an ad). Most interestingly he said that the company has previously received complaints from other defrauded buyers in Calicut and had gone to the Consumer court on their behalf and won them compensation. He extended the same support to me and my relative. In the midst of all this talk, he did ring up his boss - Mr. Ajay Prakash - and put me on the line. Mr. Ajay Prakash also proposed the Consumer court route. The visit ended with Mr. Eappen asking for the original bill and Warranty cards of the purchases since these would be needed to approach the court. Luckily, I had the presence of mind of taking copies of these documents before parting with the originals (which were posted under registeration to his office at the Hyderabad plant of Sheela Foam).
And that was the last of Mr. Eappen, Mr. Ajay Prakash and Ms. Arti Parimoo. Mr. Eappen will reply when called, he will say that the documents are not good enough to stand up in Consumer Court and we could end up being penalised for bringing up a frivolous case. He will always say that he will return the documents during his next trip. That has never occurred. Mr. Ajay Prakash seems to have changed his phone number since I am unable to reach him. Mr. Arti Parimoo no longer replies to emails. The last email which I sent to customer care was not acknowledged, BUT THAT DID NOT STOP THEM FROM SENDING ME A DIWALI GREETING WITH MY COMPLAINT QUOTED IN THE BODY!!!
As a true Indian, I am sceptical about my ability to get compensated by resorting to legal means within my lifetime. So I did not attempt to file any suit against Sheela Foam, or its employees and dealers. Ultimately, the blame lies with me since I allowed myself to be cheated, twice. I could have been more vigilant ( for example I could have sent the Warranty card to Sheela foam as soon as the mattress was purchased), I could have been more probing ( for example, I could have asked for details of those cases which Mr. Eappen claimed the company had filed in Consumer courts for other Calicut buyers, or I could have asked to see the ad which he claimed they had put in the papers).
In any case, I have come to the conclusion that the dealer was in nexus with some employees in the company and both were benefitted by the trade. How high the rot goes is anybody's guess - by the way, Mr. Ajay Prakash is the Director - Sales, and Mr. Eappen is the Manager - Sales at the company. The only aim in conveying this tale is to allow others to be aware of the risks involved in buying Sheela Foam products in South India, and particularly dealing with Ms. Ajantha Foam.
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