Consumer Protection Act, 2019 expands the concepts that would be covered by the Act, for example, product liability, e-commerce, etc. The protection provided by the Act is for the goods bought or service utilized. Section 2(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines services, while Section 2(42) of the current Act defines the same.
Service means any kind of service which is made available to the consumers for their use for payment of consideration. The definition can be divided into three parts: descriptive part, inclusive part and exclusionary part.
The descriptive part says that service includes ‘any’ kind of service, which has been availed by a potential consumer. This means that any and every kind of service shall come within the definition. The inclusive part is the list of services that have been mentioned in the statute. CPA, 2019 includes e-commerce as a new service under the statute. The telecom sector was considered as a service and has now been explicitly mentioned in the statute now. The exclusionary part is that part to determine those services whether hired for free or not and for personal service or not.
Banking is a financial transaction, and many banks have been established to offer financial services such as receiving deposits, disbursing loans, issuing checks, providing lockers, and investing, among other things. Any service offered by banks has a charge associated with it in the form of a percentage of transaction fees.
An agreement to indemnify the insured in the event of any financial loss under the terms and circumstances of the contract is known as insurance. The insurance firm may be sued if the insured is defrauded by the insurer or if, as a result of the insurer’s carelessness, the beneficiaries suffer a loss.
For instance, if a transport business loses the items in route, the insurance provider may be able to recover the loss the traveller suffered as a result of the carelessness of the transport provider.
The CPA, 2019, now includes the brand-new idea of e-commerce. E-commerce refers to online transactions involving the purchase, sale, or use of products or services via digital media or electronic service providers.
Consumer protection must be provided since the services offered by e-commerce firms could not be up to the standard promised by them.
To ease the delivery of online services, the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 were recently enacted in accordance with the CPA, 2019. The regulations also apply to online businesses that don’t have Indian company registrations but nonetheless offer services there. All e-commerce businesses must provide their name, address, website URL, and any other relevant contact information, such as a phone number or email address.
Regarding whether telecom issues can be resolved by consumer fora, there have been a number of disputes before the CPA, 2019. Consumers may file complaints under the Consumer Protection Act under the provisions of the Telecom Consumers Protection and Redressal of Grievances Regulations, 2007 (TCPRGR). The consumer forum’s jurisdiction has been used in a variety of situations, including the overcharging of telephone carriers, administrative issues like delays in processing applications for change of address of telephone line or out-of-order telephone lines, broadband services by phone companies like BSNL, fraudulent messages consumers received as a result of phone companies’ mistakes like Bharathi Airtel, etc.
The Electricity Act of 2003 regulates electricity, but it also allows complaints to be filed under other legislation, one of which being the Consumer Protection Act. Consumers who experience poor power service or anything else linked to it can make a complaint in consumer forums since electricity and other energy sectors have been included in the definition. According to NCDRC, the Consumer Protection Act does not have any authority to address issues like metre manipulation, unlawful power consumption, etc. The CPA is responsible for supplying power, and one case involving the delay in releasing the energy connection for a grain mill was deemed to be a failure in service.
Housing and construction service
With the need for infrastructure and housing growing throughout time due to population growth and corporate expansion, the construction and housing industries have expanded. The quality of the building materials used, whether the infrastructure’s properties match the contract’s promises, whether the house was delivered on time or was still under construction, whether a government agency allotted the land, etc. are all examples of housing services that fall under the Consumer Protection Act’s purview.
Transportation services include air, rail, and road transportation. All three industries are occasionally seen as services that offer restitution to wronged customers. In the case of the railroads, the consumer commission dealt with issues such as passengers receiving refunds for train delays, unlawful admission into reserved compartments, the absence of pleasant seats as promised in the terms and conditions, compensation for chain snatching, etc. A passenger who passed away after falling off the walkway between two compartments received compensation in an uncommon situation.
Education’s inclusion or exclusion from the scope of the Consumer Protection Act as a service has been debatable for the entire time. There are a number of cases decided by consumer commissions and the courts and they have contrasting views for the inclusion of the education sector.
Section 2(7) of CPA, 2019
Garima Dhaka, Consumer Protection Act: Banking Service, 8 Int. J. Dev Res 20404 (2018), https://www.journalijdr.com/sites/default/files/issue-pdf/12969.pdf
Commentary on Consumer protection Act by NCDRC available at http://ncdrc.nic.in/bare_acts/1_1_2.html.
Shashi Nath Mandal, E-consumer protection in India, 16 Int. J. Manag. Bus. Res. 1 (2016).
Vasundhara Majithia, The Changing Landscape of Intermediary Liability for E-Commerce Platforms: Emergence of a New, 15 Indian J. Law Technol. 470 (2019).
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