Consumer Protection

This article has been written by Oishika Banerji of Amity Law School, Kolkata. This article provides a detailed analysis of the possible consumer rights and consumer responsibilities that are available in an open market with respect to the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. 

This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.

Introduction 

Many people complain that they were given substandard or contaminated goods for which they paid full price. Similarly, some customers have been seen muttering that despite paying full money, the bus and train seats supplied were extremely uncomfortable. People frequently do not receive the full worth of their money because they do not have the right to receive the full value of the money they spend on the goods and services they desire. People are sometimes to blame for the goods and services that are offered to them that are improper. They frequently lack complete information about the products or services they are considering. They sometimes accept deliveries of goods or services without regard for their quality. This article provides a guide for its readers who are in one way or the other a consumer on an everyday basis, thereby letting them know the rights and responsibilities that are vested on them and need to be followed so as to let the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 function effectively. 

What is the Consumer Protection Act, 1986

Consumer complaints are easily and quickly compensated under the Consumer Protection Act, which was enacted in 1986. It protects and encourages customers to speak up about inadequacies and defects in products and services. This statute protects consumers’ rights if traders and manufacturers engage in illicit trade. The main purpose behind the formulation of this legislation is to provide assistance to both parties (consumer and seller) and to avoid lengthy lawsuits. Except for those exempted by the Central Government, this Act covers all goods and services from the public, private, and cooperative sectors. The Act provides a venue for consumers to raise complaints, after which the forum takes action against the offending supplier and compensates the customer for the inconvenience he or she has experienced.

Who is a consumer

Simply put, a consumer is someone who consumes or uses a wide range of goods and services. While goods comprise both consumable products (such as wheat flour, salt, sugar, fruits, and so on) and durable consumer goods (such as televisions, refrigerators, toasters, mixers, bicycles, and so on), services consist of electricity, telephone service, transportation service, theatre service, and other services. A consumer is someone who purchases products or services to be utilized or consumed by themselves or by someone else on their behalf.

A person who buys products for resale, a retail trader who buys goods like stationery items from a wholesaler is not a consumer but a dealer. The consumer can also be defined as anyone who picks goods and services, pays money to obtain them, and uses them to satisfy their wants. 

Consumers who become aware and take a collective stand against malpractices surrounding their purchased goods and services may be able to reduce the severity of their exploitation. A term that was coined from this understanding was ‘consumerism’ which refers to consumers’ efforts to protect themselves. Consumerism is a consumer movement that seeks to ensure that producers, traders, dealers, and service providers treat customers fairly and honestly. The movement might be viewed as an endeavour by individual consumer activists and consumer organisations to raise consumer awareness of market malpractices and discover solutions to safeguard their interests. This movement will be successful if consumers are aware of their rights and responsibilities while using goods and services.

Basic questions related to the term ‘consumer’ that people generally ask

  1. One who buys goods may or may not be a consumer. Is it true?
  • Yes
  1. Is it correct to say that anyone who consumes food must be its buyer?
  • No
  1. Can a shopkeeper be regarded as a consumer if he buys ready-made T-shirts for his own use?
  • Yes
  1. I have paid a membership fee to a public library and use it for reading books and journals. Am I a consumer of services?
  • Yes
  1. Your friend bought a storybook and after reading it, sold it to a bookseller selling secondhand books at a lower price. Is your friend a consumer?
  • Yes

Consumer of goods vs consumer of services

As “consumer of goods” is a frequent term that is used in our everyday lives, confusion gathers when we talk about services and what comprises the same. Transportation services, such as when we hire a cab or auto-rickshaw, travel by public bus, or travel by rail to visit any location, are examples of services that we purchase for our benefit. 

If you own a bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle, it may require maintenance, which you can obtain at a repair shop. You are responsible for paying for the repair person’s services. As a result, you are a service user. Electricity and telephones, which we use on a daily basis at home or at work, are two examples of services for which we pay. A movie show seen in a theatre for entertainment is also an example of service. The two significant differences between the consumer of goods and that of services have been provided hereunder:

  1. The major distinction between commodities and services used is that the quality of goods can be physically inspected prior to purchase, whereas the reliability and regularity of services cannot. For example, you can have a demonstration of a television’s operation, picture quality, sound, and so on, but you can’t guarantee that the voltage of power supplied will be stable all the time. You can taste a sample of a food item before purchasing it, or check whether fruits are overripe before purchasing them, but you can’t guarantee that a scooter or taxi driver will be cautious enough to prevent accidents, or that a movie’s sound and the picture will remain clear during the show.
  2. Furthermore, the products we purchase can be eaten immediately or over time. Cereals can be stored for a week or a month, and a refrigerator can be used for several years with minor repairs. However, we are unable to do so in the case of transportation, maintenance, electricity, telephone service, or a film screening.

Who is a responsible consumer

To be an effective consumer and further your interests, as well as to make the best decision, you must be informed and empowered. The market can be influenced by customer intervention. As a result, the consumer must act responsibly. The customer should be able to:

  1. Keep an eye on the market.
  2. Constantly double-check the accuracy of weights and measurements.
  3. Keep in mind the date of manufacturing and the expiration date.
  4. Pay close attention to the pricing and ingredient labelling.
  5. Look for certification labels such as ISI, Agmark, and Eco-mark.
  6. Before making a purchase, read the warranty and guarantee terms and conditions.
  7. When seeking value for money in market transactions, consumers should express, but not abuse, their consumer rights.
  8. Know what questions to ask and when to ask them.

How to file a complaint

  1. Within two years of purchasing the product or services, the complaint should be filed.
  2. In the complaint, the consumer should mention the details of the problem. This can be an exchange or replacement of the product, compensation for mental or physical torture. However, the declaration needs to be reasonable.
  3. All the relevant receipts, bills should be kept and attached to the complaint letter.
  4. A written complaint should be then sent to the consumer forum via email, registered post, fax, or hand-delivered. Acknowledgement is important and should not be forgotten to receive.
  5. The complaint can be in any preferred language.
  6. The hiring of a lawyer is not required.
  7. All the documents sent and received should be kept.

What are consumer rights and responsibilities

You are aware that today’s consumers confront a variety of issues as a result of market competition, deceptive advertising, the availability of low-quality goods and services, and so on. As a result, consumer protection has become a top priority for the government and other public institutions. The government has recognized certain consumer rights in order to protect their interests. In other words, if consumers are to be protected from being exploited or defrauded, they must be given specific rights that enable them to ensure that sellers of goods and service providers treat them with greater care. 

One of the rights of consumers, for example, is the right to choose. If you are aware of this right, you may ask the merchant to show you other versions of the same product so that you can choose what you want. Shopkeepers will sometimes strive to sell a specific brand of product in order to earn a bigger amount. It might not be of good quality, or it might be available for a reduced cost. This practice can be avoided if you use your right to choose the goods and shop in other stores if the one you are in does not offer a broad selection.

‘There can be no rights without obligations,’ says a well-known adage. After gathering an idea about consumer rights and the purposes they serve, it is necessary for us to assess whether customers should be held responsible enough to use their rights. Consumers, for example, should take advantage of chances to learn about and be educated about consumer issues in order to exercise their right to be heard. Consumers must take all precautions to buy the correct goods at the right price and learn how to use the items to avoid injury or loss in order to exercise their right to seek redress of complaints. Thus along with rights, responsibilities play an equally important role in ensuring consumer protection from malpractices and unfair trade tactics of the seller.  

Rights of a consumer

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 enshrines the following rights to the consumer: 

  1. Right to safety,
  2. Right to be informed,
  3. Right to choose,
  4. Right to be heard,
  5. Right to redress,
  6. Right to consumer education,
  7. Right to satisfaction of basic needs,
  8. Right to a healthy environment.

Right to safety

A consumer has the right to insist on the items’ quality and guarantee before making a purchase. They should ideally choose an ISI or AGMARK approved product. Because of technological advancements, there is a large variety of products and services accessible on the market, which necessitates careful handling. Some of these products necessitate technical expertise to utilize. Many people may be unaware of the goods’ safe use. They may also lack the technical understanding necessary to determine the safety of products and services. As a result, from the standpoint of the consumer, product safety is critical. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 established the right to safety as a consumer right.

Legislations for consumer safety

  1. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
  • The Act establishes a central council for food standards, as well as a central food laboratory. Manufacturing certain food products have been forbidden. Public analysts assess adulterated food, and food inspectors are appointed to execute the legislation. 
  • Food manufacturers, distributors, and dealers must provide assurances about the quality and substance of their products. The name of the individual from whom the food was initially acquired must be disclosed by sellers.
  • The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 was also drafted to enable the Act’s provisions to be implemented. These rules cover topics such as food quality requirements, the roles of public analysts and food inspectors, the sealing and delivery of samples, the use of colouring materials in food, food packaging, labelling, and more.
  1. The  Drugs  and  Cosmetic Act,  1940
  • The Drugs  and  Cosmetic Act,  1940 as amended in 1964, governs the importation, manufacturing, sale, and distribution of drugs and cosmetics. Its primary goal is to safeguard consumers against inferior pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. 
  • The Act requires that a list of components or formulas must be published in the prescribed manner on the label or container for patented or proprietary medications. If the government determines that any of the pharmaceuticals pose a risk to humans or animals, or that they lack the therapeutic efficacy stated, the government may prohibit their use. 
  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940 has given rise to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules. They include procedures for obtaining licences for the import, sale, distribution, packaging, stocking, and labelling of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, among other things.
  1. General legislation on product safety
  • In India, there is no comprehensive product safety legislation. The Insecticide Control Order, the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) are all pieces of legislation that deal with the compensation part of an injury or harm.
  • If a consumer’s right to safety is violated, the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 allows them to file a complaint with a redressal agency. The consumer has the right to seek remedies for any unfair trade practices or faulty goods or items that, when utilized, pose a risk to life and safety.

Right to choose

Consumers should be able to select from a wide range of items at a reasonable price. The right to be chosen signifies the right to be assured of access to a diverse range of products and services at a reasonable cost wherever possible. It means the right to be assured of adequate quality and service at a reasonable price in the case of monopolies. The right to essential goods and services is also included under the right to choose. This is because a minority’s unlimited ability to choose can result in the majority’s fair share being denied. In a competitive market, where a wide range of goods is accessible at competitive rates, this right can be better exercised.

When are choices restricted?

When the market is devoid of a diverse range of items at comparable pricing, the consumer is left with minimal options except to purchase the product that is accessible. In such circumstances, the trade can:

  1. Fix a price that they like.
  2. Generate fictitious scarcity and raise prices.
  3. Modify the delivery circumstances.
  4. Having an impact on the movement of goods into the market.

Restrictive trade practices are a type of circumstance in a market like this. At any point, before they reach the hands of the end consumer, restrictive trade practices block the free flow of money or resources into the stream of production or of finished commodities into the stream of distribution.

The reason behind enacting the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice Act, 1969 (MRTP)

The MRTP was enacted to:

  1. Ascertain that the economic system’s operation does not result in the concentration of economic power to the detriment of the general public.
  2. Prohibit monopolistic, restrictive, and unjust business activities that are harmful to the public good.

The Government of India formed the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Commission as a result of this Act.

Right to be informed

Buyers should be provided with all required product details in order for them to act wisely and amend their purchasing decisions. To protect consumers from unfair trade practices, consumers have the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard, and price of goods. Before making a choice or a decision, the consumer should insist on receiving all available information about the product or service. This will allow them to act sensibly and ethically while also preventing him from succumbing to high-pressure sales tactics.

Sources of information 

Consumers can get information from a variety of places. The source of information may differ depending on the type of product or service. The major sources are provided hereunder: 

  1. Labels: A label is a basic tag that is applied to products and contains the brand name, a lot of information, or a complexly created graphic that is part of the packaging. The label’s information aids the consumer in making an informed decision. The current food labelling rules, which are governed by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954, specify the information that must be included on the label.
  2. Advertisements, print media, electronic media: The producer may utilise a variety of channels to disseminate information about a newly launched product. Advertising is an effective strategy for introducing a product. Today, producers and traders see advertising as a need for marketing new items and keeping customers informed about market availability and options. Aggressive advertising, on the other hand, pushes new products into people’s lives by portraying them as more efficient, trendy, or handy to use. Advertisers, advertising agencies, newspapers, journals, and others engaged in advising have formed the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI). The consumers should be given information regarding the product safety aspects, nutritional value for money, and so on. 
  3. Citizen’s charter of organization: Every citizen has the right to request information from any government agency. Every public authority is required to keep all of its records in accordance with its operating requirements and to provide information to any person who requests it. It is also the responsibility of the officer in charge to explain decisions to individuals who are affected and to share important facts and analyses when key policies or decisions are published. To make an informed decision, consumers should be given accurate information. They have a right to information about how to utilize certain consumer products properly and the risks that come with them. There should be an unrestricted flow of information on consumer concerns. Appropriate information allows the customer to make intelligent and responsible decisions.
  4. Official records of public and private undertakings: Through its citizen’s charter/gazette, public undertakings that provide services to the public are required to keep information transparent to consumers. It is a written document and a declaration by the service provider regarding the service provider’s standards, accessibility, and transparency. The consumer can learn about the rules and procedures that are followed in providing the services, as well as the costs and other requirements. It is critical to be a responsible consumer. With the right knowledge, consumers should be able to make informed decisions. Before making a choice or a decision, consumers might insist on receiving all available information about a product or service.

Right to consumer education

Consumers should be aware of their rights in order to avoid being exploited. Ignorance may end up costing them even more. The right to gain the knowledge 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.

Benefit of the right to consumer education

Consumers are encouraged by the right:

  1. To have the knowledge and skills necessary to be a well-informed consumer throughout one’s life.
  2. Thinking critically.
  3. Teaches life skills.
  4. Promotes comprehension by increasing the consumers’ understanding. 

Consumers’ naivety is primarily to blame for their exploitation. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 guarantees consumers the right to receive consumer education. As a result, it is the government’s responsibility to keep consumers informed about their rights. Customer education enables a consumer to protect themselves from deceptive, fraudulent, and highly misleading information, as well as other behaviours. Consumer education instills vigilance and the ability to question prices and the quality of items. The right to consumer education is a crucial tool for exercising other consumer rights. Therefore, the right to consumer education should be given due importance.

Right to be heard

The consumer’s right to be heard means that they will be given adequate time to air their issues in a relevant forum. This means that the interests of consumers will be taken into account in relevant forums. It also involves the right to be represented in various forums established to look after the interests of consumers. Consumers should organize non-political, non-commercial consumer organizations that can be represented on various government and non-governmental committees dealing with consumer issues.

The right to be heard can also be referred to as a consumer’s right to communicate their thoughts, observations, and grievances at a time and place that is convenient for them. Whenever a consumer has a complaint, they have a right to be heard and also to be guaranteed that their interest will receive adequate attention. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has established a highly effective quasi-judicial framework to deal with such complaints and ensure that consumers’ interests are protected in a fair, cost-effective, and timely manner. 

Platforms for consumer representation 

Various platforms have been created for consumer representation. Some of them are:

  1. Consumer protection councils at district, state, and national levels.
  2. Advisory committees at the district, state, and national levels.
  3. Grievances and redressal cells of public utility departments.
  4. Consumer Care Centres.

The need for consumers to be organized to be heard

Consumers must organize themselves in order to be heard. Consumer groups can unite to make a stronger statement. They are able to:

  1. Establish/provide a public forum.
  2. Take up problems that are of public concern.
  3. Initiate public debates on topics of national importance.
  4. Insist on consumer product safety.
  5. People can be organized using media.
  6. Organize consumer forums to debate a variety of topics of interest to consumers.

Right to basic needs

The right to basic needs assures that consumers have access to essential commodities and services that ensure their survival. To live a decent life, one must have enough food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and cleanliness. For different civilizations and countries, the right to basic needs satisfaction has diverse meanings. Basic consumer requirements in the developing world would be regarded as adequate food, clothes, and shelter, but basic consumer needs in the United States or Europe would be interpreted as fair quality of consumer goods or timely, assured, and accountable services. In a more general meaning:

  1. Every consumer has a right to basic requirements and services that provide a dignified life.
  2. Appropriate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, drinking water, education, sanitation, energy, and transportation are all part of it.

How can the right to basic needs be enforced?

Some of the measures that can be undertaken to ensure enforcement of the right to basic needs are:

  1. Adoption of food safety measures, such as safety criteria, food standards, and dietary restrictions, as well as effective monitoring, inspection, and assessment methods.
  2. Food standards from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), CODEX Alimen tarius, or other universally acknowledged international food standards.
  3. Integrated national drug policies are improving the quality and appropriate use of medications.
  4. Developing national drug policies that address procurement, distribution, licensing arrangements, registration systems, and the availability of trustworthy pharmaceutical information, while taking into account relevant WHO work and recommendations.
  5. Developing, sustaining, and bolstering national policies to improve drinking water supply, distribution, and quality

Right to a healthy environment 

The right to a healthy environment entails the right to a physically healthy environment that improves one’s quality of life. It includes safeguarding against environmental threats over which people have no control. It recognizes the importance of preserving and improving the environment for current and future generations. In reality, the right to a healthy environment is implied in all human rights in every element of life. It is everyone’s right to live a healthy lifestyle free of pollution of water, air, soil, and noise. The term ‘healthy environment’ refers to both global and local environmental factors. At local levels, ozone depletion, global warming, and an increase in hazardous wastes are causing significant violations of the right to a healthy environment, such as dirty groundwater supplies or air laden with poisonous gases.

The right to a safe and natural environment is now being demanded by consumers because: 

  1. Consumers have the right to live and work in an environment that is neither unsafe nor threatening, but that allows them to enjoy a life of dignity and well-being.
  2. They should be protected from environmental hazards or negative consequences of contamination of the air, earth, and water, among other things.

Right to seek redressal 

Right to seek redressal means the right to seek redress in the event of unfair trade practices or consumer abuse. It also involves the right to a just resolution of a consumer’s real grievances. Consumers must file a complaint if they have legitimate grievances. Their complaint may be minor in nature, but its influence on society as a whole can be significant. They can also seek redress of their problems with the support of consumer organizations.

As markets become more global and the direct contact between the maker and the end-user becomes more remote, post-purchase complaints must be addressed through a robust redress system. Consumer dispute redressal agencies (also known as Consumer Forums or Consumer Courts) are established at the district, state, and national levels under the 1986 Act to enable simple and inexpensive speedy redress of consumer concerns. The District Forum hears complaints where the amount claimed in compensation is less than 23 lakhs rupees. This limit is referred to as the Consumer Redressal Forum’s ‘pecuniary jurisdiction.’

Types of grievances

For numerous types of issues, the customer might seek redress. If a consumer is dissatisfied with a product or service, he or she can file a complaint before the competent consumer forum for the following grievances:

  1. A dealer engages in unequal or restricted business practices,
  2. Purchased items are substandard,
  3. Any type of service suffers from a lack,
  4. The merchant collects a price that is higher than the fixed price, or the price on the items or package, or the price on the price list,
  5. The sale of things that are dangerous to one’s health and safety is being promoted,
  6. Life-threatening services are being offered for sale.

Remedies available to a consumer 

Once the Consumer Forum has heard the complaint and determined that the company is at fault, it might require the company to take the following actions:

  1. Correct any flaws in the goods that aren’t in line with their claims.
  2. Free of charge defect repair.
  3. Replace the product with one that is equivalent or better.
  4. Provide a complete refund of the purchase amount.
  5. Damages, costs, and inconveniences must be compensated.
  6. Remove the product from the market entirely.
  7. Discontinue or refrain from engaging in any unfair or restrictive trade conduct.
  8. Make a public apology for any previous misrepresentation.

Responsibilities of a consumer

Customer protection should be actively pursued by a responsible consumer. Consumer International, a global federation of consumer groups, has listed the following consumer obligations:

  1. Critical awareness
  • Should be vigilant and inquisitive about the products and services used.
  • Not to be swayed by deceptive and misleading commercials that make exaggerated claims about items and services, but to critically assess the utility of the product or service, as well as the assurances and warranties that come with it.
  • Examining items and making a service offer.
  • Wherever such a choice is available, exercising choice based on an assessment of relative merits of products and services.
  • Adopting a no-compromise approach when it comes to the quality of goods and services to ensure that the money spent is well spent.
  1. Being prepared to act

To raise one’s voice and protest against any sort of exploitation by trade and industry, or any infringement of a consumer’s right to fair and just demands in regard to the quality of goods and services, one must be willing to take action to enforce fair and just demands.

  1. Social responsibility 

To be conscious of the impact of their consumption on other people, particularly disadvantaged groups, in the local, national, and worldwide environment.

  1. Environmental awareness 

To be aware of environmental degradation and contamination in order to avoid waste and maintain natural resource conservation.

  1. Solidarity 

To be prepared to join forces and act cooperatively to boost consumer movement and consumer protection measures through internet collaboration, campaigning, and advocacy programmes on a variety of consumer issues.

Responsibility to be aware

Consumers have a responsibility to be aware of the safety and quality of products and services before acquiring them. The prime responsibility of every customer is to obtain and retain the proof of purchase and other documents related to the purchase of durable goods. For example, getting a cash memo on a purchase of goods is vital since the proof of purchase will assist you to substantiate your claim for repair or replacement of the products if you have to make a complaint about faults in the goods. Similarly, dealers give warranty/guarantee cards for durable consumer products such as televisions and refrigerators should be kept diligently for future purposes. Further, during a specified period following purchase, the cards entitle you to free service for repairs and replacement of parts.

Responsibility to think independently

Consumers should be concerned about what they want and need and should be able to make independent decisions as a result. It is usually preferable for a consumer to rely as little as possible on the seller for information and decision. You have a responsibility as a consumer to protect yourself against being fooled by acting responsibly. A well-informed customer can always look after his or her own interests better than anyone else. Furthermore, it is always preferable to be forewarned and forearmed rather than receiving treatment after a loss or harm.

Responsibility to speak up

Buyers should not be afraid to air their problems and tell sellers exactly what they want. When you believe a corporation, organization, or seller has harmed you, one of your fundamental legal rights is to speak up and defend yourself. This is ethical decision-making with the aim of protecting other customers from the same company’s wrongdoing. Most businesses offer a complaint department that you can contact if you believe you have been wronged.

Responsibility to complain

It is the consumer’s responsibility to voice and register a sincere and fair complaint about their discontent with goods or services. Consumers are also urged to remember that when filing complaints and requesting compensation for loss or harm, they should not make claims that are excessively large. Consumers are frequently forced to use their right to seek remedy in court. There have been instances where consumers have sought large sums of money for no apparent reason. This is considered a reckless act that should be avoided.

Responsibility to be an ethical consumer

Consumers should be honest and not engage in any misleading practices. Some customers, particularly during the warranty time, abuse the device in the mistaken belief that it will be replaced during the warranty term. This is not a fair situation for them to be in. They should always make correct use of the merchandise. 

Aside from the responsibilities listed above, customers should be aware of a few others. They must adhere to the terms of the agreements reached with manufacturers, traders, and service providers. In the case of credit purchases, they should pay on time. They must not tamper with service media such as electric and water meters, bus and train seats, and so on. They should keep in mind that they can only utilize their rights if they are willing to accept responsibility.

Consumer rights vs consumer responsibilities 

As we now have an idea about the possible rights and responsibilities vested on consumers to be effectively exercised, it is now time for us to compare the rights with that of the responsibilities that follow in its footsteps. 

Right to be heard

A consumer has the right to advocate for their own interests in order to receive complete and sympathetic attention in the formation and implementation of economic and other policies. It encompasses the right to be heard in government and other policy-making organizations, as well as the right to participate in the development of products and services before they are manufactured or established. It is the consumer’s job to provide sound suggestions. A responsible consumer should: 

  1. Verify that the company has provided you with the consumer grievance handling system’s contact information, which is easily accessible.
  2. Do not buy items or services from a company that does not offer contact information for the consumer grievance officials who will handle consumer complaints.
  3. Attempt to correct the marketplace’s erroneous behaviours.
  4. Help others express their consumer rights.
  5. Support efforts to improve consumers’ ability to engage effectively in government decision-making processes.

Right to redressal

A consumer’s right to compensate for misrepresentation of poor goods or disappointing services is protected by law. It is the consumer’s responsibility to seek restitution if a trader or manufacturer has defrauded them. The consumer must respond quickly. They must not allow the trader to take them for granted. It is the responsibility of a consumer to do the following: 

  1. Ignoring the loss incurred as a result of defective goods and services purchased and failing to file a complaint encourages dishonest businessmen to provide substandard or defective goods and services. As a result, even if the loss is minor, submit a complaint. Only file a legitimate complaint.
  2. If a customer is dissatisfied with the quality of a product or service, he or she must make a complaint.
  3. Make a claim for the penalties/compensation set forth in the rules and regulations to ensure that the quality of the delivery system improves.
  4. Carefully read all terms and circumstances pertaining to defective items return/replacement, refund policies, and warranty policies.

Responsibilities in association with the right to basic needs 

Consumers have a right to essential products and services that are necessary for survival, such as food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and sanitation. On the other hand, it is the consumer’s responsibility to:

  1. Become aware of products and services that ensure a fair standard of living.
  2. Learn about the quality of the goods and services available.
  3. Collect information about the availability of various items and services.
  4. Demand for reliable, timely, and responsible services.
  5. Demand for sanitary conditions to be met.

Responsibilities  in  association  with the right  to a healthy environment

Consumers have a legal right to a physical environment that improves their quality of life. It encompasses safeguarding against environmental threats over which individuals have no control. It recognizes the importance of protecting and improving the environment for current and future generations. Responsible consumers should ensure that their actions have no negative environmental consequences. It is their obligation to:

  1. Become knowledgeable about environmental issues.
  2. Learn about the environmental consequences of different product/service options..
  3. Compare products that are evaluated for their environmental impact.
  4. Create a consumption decision that is both sensible and environmentally friendly.
  5. Reward sellers who follow good environmental policies.
  6. Support initiatives to reduce the usage of environmentally hazardous consumer products and to increase the availability of environmentally friendly goods.

Right to safety

A customer has the right to be protected from products, manufacturing processes, and services that are harmful to their health or life. For ensuring the same, the consumer should abide by the following responsibilities:  

  1. Consumers should check for standard quality marks such as ISI, Hallmark, Agmark, ISO, FSSAI, and others when purchasing goods or services.
  2. Use products with caution and care, and report any flaws.
  3. Read product labels carefully and use items as directed and the instruction booklet attentively and follow the instructions.
  4. If there are any warning labels, read them.
  5. Inquire about the product’s safety features from the seller.
  6. Do not purchase any phoney/fake/duplicate/dangerous things.

Right to consumer education/ Right to be informed

Every customer has the right to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be a well-informed shopper throughout their lives. The right to consumer education includes access to the knowledge and skills needed to intervene in variables that influence consumer decisions. A responsible consumer must abide by the following: 

  1. Do not be swayed solely by marketing or rely on the seller’s claims. Consumers should read reviews and opinions on the market. Similarly, notify offers if a company’s goods or service is of poor quality.
  2. The consumer must insist on receiving complete information about the product or service’s quality, quantity, utility, pricing, and so on.
  3. Obtain complete contact information for the company’s consumer grievance system from which the consumer wants to purchase.

Right to choose

A consumer should be able to choose from a wide range of products and services at reasonable pricing. The consumer should be given a choice and therefore the following responsibilities must be abided by: 

  1. Gather information on the many options available for the product and services being considered for purchase.
  2. Before making a purchase, compare the specifications, competition, and fair prices of the goods and services.
  3. Examine various product/service feedback/reviews.

Conclusion 

As the frequency of deceptive techniques and market anomalies is rising, governments must intervene to protect consumers’ interests by recognizing and upholding their rights under a variety of legal instruments, including consumer protection legislation. The combined participation of consumers, sellers, government, and other state actors will help fulfill the intention behind drafting legislation that aims to safeguard consumers and their movement in the market. 

References 


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