Rights of Consumers Part 2

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Consumers face various problems on account of competition in the market, misleading advertisements, availability of inferior quality of goods and services, etc. Hence protection of consumers’ interest has become a matter of serious concern for the Government as well as public bodies. It is to safeguard the interest of consumers that Government has recognized certain rights of consumers. In other words, if consumers are to protect themselves from being exploited or cheated, they have to be given certain rights so that they are in a position to ensure that sellers of goods and service providers are more careful in dealing with them. Sometimes, shopkeepers try to sell a particular brand of product on which they get higher commission on sale. It may not be of the good quality, or it may be available at a relatively lower price. This practice can be prevented if you exercise your right to choose the product and visit other shops if one shop does not have a large variety of the product.

Let us discuss the various rights of consumers that are provided in the Consumer Protection Act 1986:

Image of Rights of Consumers

Image of Rights of Consumers

Image of Rights of Consumers

Right to Safety

Consumers have a right to be protected against marketing of goods which are injurious to health and life. As a consumer if you are conscious of this right, you can take precautions to prevent the injury or if injury is caused in spite of precaution, you have a right to complain against the dealer and even claim compensation. For example, if you buy any medicine, the pharmacy selling it can be held responsible if the medicine proves harmful because it was substandard.

Right to be Informed

Consumers also have the right to be informed about the quantity, quality, purity, standard or grade and price of the goods available so that they can make proper choice before buying any product or service. Also, wherever necessary, the consumer must be informed about the safety precautions to be taken while using the product to avoid loss or injury. Taking the example of gas cylinder again, the supplier must inform the user to stop the flow of gas with the help of the regulator when it is not in use.

Right to Choose

Every consumer has the right to choose the goods needed from a wide variety of similar goods. Very often dealers and traders try to use pressure tactics to sell goods of inferior quality. Sometimes, consumers are also carried away by advertisements on the TV. These possibilities can be avoided if consumers are conscious of this right.

Right to be Heard

This right has three interpretations. Broadly speaking, this right means that consumers have a right to be consulted by Government and public bodies when decisions and policies are made affecting consumer interests. Also, consumers have a right to be heard by manufactures, dealers and advertisers about their opinion on production and marketing decisions. Thirdly, consumers have the right to be heard in legal proceedings in law courts dealing with consumer complaints.

Right to Seek Redressal

If and when any consumer has a complaint or grievance due to unfair trade practices like charging higher price, selling of inferior quality or unsafe products, lack of regularity in supply of services etc. or if he has suffered loss or injury due to defective or adulterated products, he has the right to seek remedies. He has a right to get the defective goods replaced or money refunded by the seller or dealer. He also has the right to seek legal remedies in the appropriate courts of law. Through this right the consumers are assured that their complaints will receive due attention. This right also provides for due compensation to consumers if they have suffered a loss or are put to inconvenience due to the fault of the supplier or manufacturer.

Right to Consumer Education

To prevent market malpractices and exploitation of consumers, consumer awareness and education are essentially required. For this purpose, consumer associations, educational institutions and Government policy makers are expected to enable consumers to be informed and educated about

  • The relevant laws which are aimed at preventing unfair trade practice;

  • The ways in which dishonest traders and producers may try to manipulate market practices to deceive consumers;

  • How consumers can protect their own interest; and

  • The procedure to be adopted by consumers while making complaints.

Steps have already been taken by many consumer organisations to educate consumers through pamphlets, journals and posters. TV programmes have also come to play an effective role in this connection.

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