This article deal with Consumer Protection, Consumer Rights and way in which consumer is exploited .
The consumer is one who gives the final user of commodity, consumer pay for product or service.
Sometimes the consumer gets cheated by the seller or company by providing a poor quality product or poor service or changes price higher than the actual.
Forms of Consumer Exploitation
The consumer got many services in the economy such as insurance, transport, electricity, finance, and banking.
The demand for services and good are influenced mainly by advertisement.
The companies spend a lot of capital towards advertisement to attract consumers and feed the information to the customer about the products but not information consumer needs to know.
When the consumer does not proper information about the product or service, the consumer gets exploited and harassed at times by the business people.
Consumers are exploited by traders and manufacture in different ways, which are as follows:
Goods not measured or weighted Properly, Goods are off sub-standard quantity, Selling the medicine beyond expiry date.
Defective home appliances are sold, Pricing the goods and services higher than the retail price, Selling duplicate products in the name of the original.
These are some common ways by which the customer gets exploited. The right of the consumer is protected by enacting certain rules and regulations established by Indian law.
Consumer Protection and Rights
Right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services that are dangerous to life and property.
Proper information regarding the quantity, quality, potency, purity, adherence to national and international standards, and price of goods.
Assurance of access to goods and services at a competitive price. In the case of a single supplier, the right to quality and service at a fair price.
The consumer’s interests should receive due consideration at appropriate forums relating to the consumer’s welfare.
To seek redresses against unfair trade practices and exploitation, when the consumer gets affected and the customer has the right to a fair settlement.
The Right to information act was passed on 12th October 2005, as a fundamental right of the citizen to access information from all public bodies.
The main objective of the RTI Act
To promote accountability and transparency to citizens to the information of public bodies. RTI covers all levels of Governments such as State, Central, District, Local Self Governments, etc.
It also all NGOs, VO, and other private bodies that are partially or fully financed with public funds. Every information or record held by these bodies is accessible to every citizen via the RTI act.
RTI is not mentioned in the fundamental right of the constitution. But the parliament passed the Act to enable as a fundamental right to all the citizens.
Consumer Protection Measures
The government adopted three strategies to protect the consumers, Legislative measure-Enactment of consumer Protection Act, Administrative measure Distributing essential commodities through Public Distribution systems(PDS)
Technical measure Standardization of the product
a. Legislation Concerning Consumer Rights
The Consumer Protection act in 1986 was enacted by the government. According to this act, setting up separate Departments of Consumer affairs in Central and state governments.
That act exclusively focuses on consumer protection as enacted by the government. A most important feature of the act is the three-tier system known as the Consumer court at national, state, and district levels.
National consumer commission in Delhi, Apex court under the Consumer Protection Act 1986
At the state level, it is State consumer commission
At the district level, it is the District forum.
Legal formalities for filing a complaint
There are no legal formalities for filing a complaint.
Anyone can file a complaint themselves if they are found cheated or exploited by a trader or manufacturer in the consumer court.
The consumer needs to write a complaint on white paper and attach the supporting documents such as guarantee or warranty card, cash invoice, etc along with the complaint and submit this to the district consumer court.
There is no necessity to go to a Lawyer or professional for legal assistance, the consumer themselves can plead the case.
b. Public Distribution System
The primary purpose of the Public Distribution System is to ensure food security for the poor.
As a part of the administrative measure, the Public distribution system needs to be strengthened.
Ill practices of traders such as hoarding, black marketing, and overcharging need to be prevented and enforced by law.
c. Standardization of Products
As a part of consumer protection from lack of quality and varying standards, government-created institutions, or bodies to make standards for goods and services and also enforcing them.
This Government of India created the institution name BIS(Bureau of Indian Standards) and Agmark.
BIS frames standards for industrial and consumer goods.
Agmark provides standards for agricultural products.
For International level standardization, an institution called ISO (International Organization for Standardization) which is located in Geneva serves to provide common reference standards.
ISO is a non-governmental organization established in 1947, published International standards based on international agreements.
For the International standard in Foods and Beverages, there is a standard called Codex Alimentation Commission.
Codex Alimentation Commission was created by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) located in Rome Italy.
It develops guidelines and standards for production and practices in international trade in food items.
India is observation 24th December as National Consumers Day to remember the day Consumer Protection Act passed in the parliament in 1986.
On the other hand World, Consumer Day is being observed on March 15, to remember the day in 1962 when the “Bill for Consumer Rights” moved in the US Congress.
The Father of the Consumer Movement is Ralph Nader, a consumer activist.
Birth of COPRA
It is Magna Carta of consumer, which is the Consumer Protection Act (COPRA) in 1986.
Government of Tamil Nadu measure for Consumer Protection
Establishment of consumer clubs in educational institutions. Providing education through Women Self Help groups, Panchayat level federation for Rural masses.
Urban people through Resident Welfare Associations. General awareness through sectoral workshops and seminars.
By “Tamil Nadu Nugarvor Kavasam” magazine. Government advertisement through Radio, Television, and short video films.
Consumer Protection and Rights in Various Countries
The USA passed various laws both at the federal and state levels.
Among them are the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Truth in Lending Act, etc.
As a member of the European Union (EU), in 2016. UK is bound by consumer protection directives of the EU.
It also acts as UK’s official consumer and competition watchdog.
A minister of the federal cabinet is responsible for consumer rights and protection.
Uses of Consumer Act
To create Awareness, Social Concern- to make sure the products and services do not harm anyone and Environmental Concern
Causes due to Lack of Awareness
Consumers are exploited by attractive advertisements. Seller takes advantage of a lack of awareness of customers such as providing a scheme of exchange, gift, lotteries, etc. If the loss occurs the consumer cannot approach the court.
The people have no awareness of their rights and products.