How Lodha Group exploits flat-buyers — A Case Study
Mumbai, 1 June, 2018: Here is a live example of how Lodha Group traps unwary flat-purchasers and makes them pay unreasonable amounts. Kavita Shinde booked flat no. A401 in Casa Treetop in Lodha Upper Thane, located on Mumbai-Nashik Highway, and received extortionate demand letters to pay late-fees, although she had not delayed any payment.
Kavita booked her flat on 11th May, 2017 by paying Rs 90,000/-, and followed this up by paying Rs 3.17 lakhs on 5th June, 2017. As per the application form, the next “milestone” was executing the registered agreement. The third installment would be payable only after registration.
Lodha Group delayed the registration until November. And then, soon after registration, when Kavita was preparing to pay her next installment, she was amazed to receive a demand letter seeking late fees of Rs 40,000/- for delayed payment from July!
At first, Kavita thought that this was a misunderstanding and tried to sort it out with the sales office and customer relations desk. But, ignoring her communications, the customer relations desk continued sending her repeated demand letters. Only then did Kavita realize that this was a deliberate action.
Issue no. 1: Even while verbally accepting that the delay in registration of agreement was their fault, Lodha Group’s office insist on payment of late fees, promising vaguely that the late fees may be adjusted later if their higher-ups permit. Kavita realizes that if she pays first, she will be at the mercy of Lodha. “Why should I pay late fees?” asks Kavita. “The registration delay was from their end! Whenever I called to enquire, they said they were waiting for some approval.” But if she doesn’t pay late fees soon, Lodha Group threatens to cancel her booking and forfeit her booking amount!
Issue no. 2: Kavita feels she was overcharged. The rate that she paid was Rs 10,000/- per square foot, based on the market rate in Thane. However, the so-called Upper Thane project is located in Bhiwandi district, where the market rate is Rs 7,000/-.
Issue no. 3: Despite false assurances by the sales team, Kavita hasn’t till date received a xerox copy of the Application Form that she signed. Without a copy, she is unable to independently refer to the terms and conditions that the Lodha Group is holding her hostage to! (To understand how Lodha’s onerous application forms are like traps for customers, read this article.)
Issue no. 4: Lodha Group is eager that a loan company should pay the installments, rather than Kavita herself. But Kavita is afraid of landing up in situations like this one, where a Lodha Aqua buyer was compelled to pay late fees due to the loan company’s unwillingness to disburse loan installments without commensurate progress in construction.
As the higher-ups of Lodha Group are unapproachable to flat-buyers, Kavita struggles with sales managers, customer relations managers, etc, who pass the buck to their inaccessible superiors.
Even post-RERA, Lodha Group follows rampant malpractices and unfair trade practices. When will flat-buyers get justice?
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