Rights and Responsibilities of Consumers Part 1

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We often come across many people who complaint of having been supplied with inferior or adulterated goods for which they have paid full price. Similarly, some people are seen grumbling that they have paid full fare but the seats of bus and train provided were very un-comfortable. So many a times people do not get the full worth of their money. They do not have a right to get the full value of their money spent for the goods and services they want to avail of.

Sometimes, people themselves are responsible for the inappropriate goods and services that are provided to them. Many a times, they do not know full details of the products or services they are interested in. Sometimes, they take the delivery of goods or avail the services without caring for their quality.

Who is a Consumer?

Consumer is a person who consumes or uses various goods and services. Goods may include consumable goods (like wheat flour, salt, sugar, fruits, etc.) or durable consumer goods (like television, refrigerator, toaster, mixer, bicycle, etc.). Services that we buy may include electric power, telephone, transport service, theatre service, etc. Thus, a consumer is one who buys goods and services for use. If a retail trader buys goods (say stationery items) from a wholesaler, he is not a consumer but a trader because he buys goods for resale.

Consumer is a person who buys goods or services to be used or consumed by himself/herself or by someone else on behalf of the buyer. Goods may include consumable items or durable consumer goods.

A ‘consumer’ may also be defined as “Anybody who chooses goods and services, spends money to obtain them and uses them to satisfy his/her needs”.

we use every day either at home or at our work place are also services that we consume for which payment is made. A film-show seen for entertainment at cinema houses is also an example of service.

The main difference between goods and services consumed is that quality of goods can be physically verified before buying but the reliability and regularity of services cannot be verified beforehand.

Besides, goods we buy can be consumed instantly or over a period of time. We can store cereals for a week or month, and a refrigerator can be used for several years with necessary repairs from time to time. But we cannot do so with (say) transport services or repairs, electric supply or telephone service or a film show.

Meaning of Consumerism

As a consumer, you must be using goods and services from time to time. You may be having the experience of being exploited by some or the other suppliers. Sometimes they over-charge or supply inferior quality of goods and services. It is difficult to stop such exploitation by any consumer single handily. The intensity of such exploitation may be restricted if consumers become alert and collectively take a stand against such malpractices.

Self-effort on the part of consumers for safe-guarding themselves is known as “consumerism”.

Consumerism refers to a movement by consumers to ensure fair and honest (ethical) practices on the part of manufacturers, traders, dealers and services providers in relation to consumers. The movement may be regarded an attempt by individual consumer activists and consumer associations for creating consumer awareness about the malpractices in the market and finding ways and means to protect their interests.

This movement will be successful if consumers are aware of their rights and responsibilities while using goods and services. Consumer Protection Act, 1986 Consumer Protection Act provides for consumer protection more comprehensively than any other law. Consumers can seek legal remedy for a wide range of unfair practices not only with respect to goods but also for deficiency in services like banking, insurance, financing, transport, telephone, supply of electricity or other energy, housing, boarding & lodging, entertainment, amusement, etc. This Act also includes provision for the establishment of consumer protection councils at the centre and the state. For the settlement of consumer disputes, the act has provided for a semi-judicial system. It consists of District Forum, State Commission and National Commission for redressal of consumer disputes. These may be regarded as consumer courts.

Objectives

After studying this lesson, you will be able to:

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Image of Objectives

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