How do Consumer rights empower citizens?

Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”

Milton Friedman

Introduction:-

        A consumer can either be an individual or a group of people who buys goods or make use of services for personal consumption or usage for an amount of consideration. A consumer’s intention must be that the goods bought should be solely for his usage and not for selling to others or for manufacturing purposes. Section 7(a) of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 defines a consumer as a person who:-

   (i) buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with the approval of such person but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or any commercial purpose; or

(ii) hires or avails of any service for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such service other than the person who hires or avails of the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person, but does not include a person who avails of such service for any commercial purpose

Explanation of terms of the clause:-

 (a) The term “commercial purpose” does not encompass a person’s usage of products purchased and used only to earn a living through self-employment. 

 (b) The term “buys any goods” and “hires or avails any services” refer to transactions conducted offline or online via electronic means, such as teleshopping, direct selling, or multi-level marketing.

The above definitions bring us to the question – Why do we need consumer rights? 

Consumers must have access to reliable information about the goods and services that they purchase. This availability of honest information allows people to make the best decisions for their interests and protects them from being exploited or misled by businesses. Policies, laws, and regulations aimed at protecting consumers help to improve consumer welfare by ensuring that businesses can be held accountable. People, whether they hail from the rural parts of the country or metropolitan cities are unaware and oblivious to the quality of the goods that they are being sold. Us consumers may not be on good terms with each other but in my opinion, traders and sellers are quite strong together – which enables them to easily outwit and trick customers.

For example, with the abundant influx of duplicate, fake products circulating both online and offline, consumers are unaware of the differences between authentic goods and phoney imitations of the real goods. The unfamiliarity of the genuineness of products that we buy and consume in our day-to-day life easily gives way to traders and sellers indulging in malpractices and deceitful activities.  

Now that we know why consumer awareness is important, let’s take a look at the basic rights that a consumer is entitled to which are defined in The Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

(i) the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products, or services which are hazardous to life and property

               This is also known as the right to safety and it refers to being protected against the marketing of goods and services that are dangerous to one’s life or property. The items and services they acquire should not only fulfil their immediate requirements but also their long-term goals. Consumers should insist on product quality as well as product and service guarantees before making a purchase. They should buy ISI, AGMARK, and other quality-marked products whenever possible. Consumers must make sure that each product that they buy and consume must follow the FSSAI guidelines to make sure their right to safety of goods is not infringed. 

(ii) the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods, products, or services, as the case may be, to protect the consumer against unfair trade practises

              This is also known as the Right to be informed. Consumers must be informed about the consumption and usage status of the products that they purchase so that they can gain protection from unfair commercial practises because practices like adulteration, sale of knock-off products are quite prevalent across the country.

(iii) the right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods, products, or services at competitive prices.

              Sellers sometimes collaborate with certain companies to only forcibly sell their products and not the likes of it from other brands. Consumers must be allowed to purchase goods only under their own will and must be subjected to the variety of goods that are available in the market. The right to choice entails the certainty of availability, ability, and access to a wide range of items and services at a reasonable cost, where reasonable cost indicates a price that is equitable or fair. The consumer should not be forced to buy a specific brand by the manufacturer, supplier, or retailer. The buyer should be able to select the product that best suits his needs irrespective of the brand that the product belongs to.

(iv) the right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums;

             The right to be heard means that the interests of consumers will be taken into account in relevant forums. It also involves the right to be represented in different forums established to look after the interests of consumers. Consumers should organize non-political, non-commercial consumer organizations that may be represented on different government and non-governmental committees dealing with consumer issues.

(v) the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers; 

               When Consumers go through issues regarding the purchase of their products, this right indicates that each consumer has the right to seek redress of his or her concerns against unethical trade or selling practices. He or she also retains the right to seek compensation for any kind of losses incurred as a result of the unfair commercial conduct.

(vi) the right to consumer awareness; 

                    Consumers across the world, regardless of the places they come from, are vulnerable to exploitation, especially people from the rural areas of the country. Sometimes, even when we see other consumers being tricked, ignorance just seeps into us because we feel that it doesn’t affect or bother us in any manner. We refrain from informing our fellow consumers regarding their unfair experiences faced by them by the sellers. The right to gain the information and skills necessary to be a well-informed consumer throughout one’s life. Consumer ignorance, particularly among rural customers, is largely to blame for their exploitation. They should be aware of their rights and should be able to exercise them. Only then can genuine consumer protection be possible.

Conclusion:-

We consumers usually ignore or not be bothered by the malpractices followed by traders, retailers, and sellers, by thinking that it does not affect us personally. This thought of ours is the only way that leads us to the downfall of ourselves. Unawareness and Exploitation are something that should be taken seriously and must be voiced against when we experience it – either directly or indirectly. We must remember that our awareness is one of the prime reasons for our growth as a country and to strengthen our economy.

References:-

  1. https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2019/210422.pdf
  2. https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/organisation-and-units/division/consumer-protection-unit/consumer-rights
  3. https://www.toppr.com/guides/business-studies/consumer-protection/consumer-rights-responsibilities/#:~:text=Consumer%20Awareness%20is%20an%20act,%2C%20services%2C%20and%20consumers%20rights.&text=Consumers%20have%20the%20right%20to,to%20choose%2C%20right%20to%20safety.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN THE SAME, DO LET ME KNOW.

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The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at secondinnings.hr@gmail.com

In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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