Consumer Awareness

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In everyday life we purchase many products and services by paying certain price. Price should satisfy the customers in terms of quality and quantity. If goods are of bad quality or unreasonably priced or measured less in quantity consumer will get dissatisfaction. There should be a mechanism to redress issues of consumers. At the same time consumer also have certain responsibilities not just rights.

Image of Consumer Awareness

Image of Consumer Awareness

Image of Consumer Awareness

Government of India introduced Consumer Protection Act to provide protection to consumers. The Act was introduced in 1986 and amended in the year 2002.

Consumer: Definition of consumer as per Consumer protection Act –”Consumer is a person who buys goods and services for consideration for his/her use (Not for resale). The user of goods and services with the permission of the buyer is also treated as a consumer.”

Goods: “Goods are those products which are manufactured or produced and sold to consumers through wholesalers and retailers.”

Service: “Service of any description which is made available to the potential user to the provisions of facilities in connection with banking, education, communication, transportation etc.”

Note: Goods and services which are rendered for free of cost will not come under Consumer protection act 2002.

Consumer Awareness: Consumer needs to be aware of certain things before he purchases particular good or service. Awareness regarding–

  • Problems associated with purchasing product (whether they are safe to use or not)

  • Knowledge about the quality and quantity of those products.

  • Knowledge about his Rights i.e Consumer Rights.

  • How to lodge a complaint against seller.

  • Knowledge about his responsibilities.

Need for Consumer Awareness:

Today, the market is flooded with huge number of products and services. Number of sellers and buyers increased drastically. We all are getting products simply by placing an order online. Also there are huge number of similar products coming with same brand name and logos. It will be a tough job to identify quality products. At the same time buyer is not able to discuss the issue with the manufacturer directly due to the advancement of technology. Some of the problems associated with products and services –

  • Sometimes seller sells expired products like packed food items and medicine.

  • Seller charge more money than the Marked Retail Price (M.R.P).

  • Many times sellers do not provide bill for the purchased goods in order to avoid paying tax to government.

  • Some producers do not mention any details regarding the harm associated with products.

  • Sellers provide poor quality products compared to their price.

Not just these problems, there are many problems. Many consumers do not respond even though they got bad product or service, because of lack of knowledge. In order to solve all those problems every consumer need to know about their rights and responsibilities. They should raise their voice against unfair trade practices. So, Consumer awareness is a must.

Consumer Redressal System in India:

To provide consumer protection government of India made many legislations. Those are –

  • Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act 1954

  • Essential Commodities Act (ECA),1955

  • Standard of Weights and Measures Act (SWMA),1976

  • Consumer Protection Act (CPA), 1986

Among all those acts CPA is powerful. Because

  • CPA applies to all goods and services.

  • Simple, quick and less expensive

  • Less formal and involves less paper work.

New measures included in CPA

  • Consumers are allowed to decide where they want to seek redressal.

  • A company cannot insist on being liable to be tried only in a court of its choice.

  • Consumers are allowed to sue service providers of a company for passing on their personal information to salespersons e.g. banks, insurance company etc.

  • Real estate developers are classified as traders and liable to be tried in a consumer court.

  • Oversees agencies operating through e-commerce sites on the internet or telemarketing are not allowed to sell their products unless they maintain an office in India. They have to organise the inspection of goods prior to purchase, or refund goods within 30days.

  • Officials and stakeholders like state government departments of post and telecom, passport offices, municipal services, Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) and railways are demanding exemption from the Act fearing, they will have to face a barrage of litigation.

Institutions to Deal with Consumers’ Grievances:

To address the grievances of consumers Indian Government set up two important institutions. Those are

  • Government Councils

  • Consumer Courts

Besides these two there are also several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) registered under government to support aggrieved consumers.

Government Councils:

To address the problems of consumers government established councils at both central and state level.

Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC):

CCPC operates at central level. CCPC is under Central government and headed by Central Minister of Consumer Affairs.

State Consumer Protection Council (SCPC):

SCPC operates at state level. SCPS is under control of state minister-in-charge of Consumer Affairs.