Consumer Awareness: Consumers ′ Rights and Responsibilities (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Consumers՚ Rights

The purchase of goods and services entitles you to certain rights as a consumer.

Consumers՚ Rights

They are as follows:

  • Right to Information: This right states that sellers and producers should always provide consumers with enough and appropriate information regarding the price, weight, company brand, manufacturing & expiry dates, quality identification marks, ingredients, contact links of the company and so on, to make intelligent and informed product choices.
  • Right to Choose: The consumers have the Right to Choose regarding what to buy and what not to buy. Sometimes when you receive a service or purchase a good you cannot do so because you are forced to buy things that you may not wish to. The shopkeeper puts a condition and you are left with no choice. You as a consumer lose your right to choose.
  • Right to Safety: This right provides protection against the marketing of goods that are unsafe to the health and life e. g. adulteration in food, medicines, electronics and so on.
  • Right to be Heard: This right ensures that consumers՚ interest will be given due consideration in the appropriate forums. This right also empowers the Indian consumers to fearlessly voice their complaints against the defective products and the erring producer/company/seller.
  • The Right to Seek Redressal: In case of cheating, fraud or any other injustice as explained above the consumer can get compensation for the damage caused by the unfair and exploitative trade practices The redressal courts through their intervention help consumers get justice.
  • The Right to Consumer Education: Instructions and guidelines for consumers are issued by the government departments and NGOs. This helps the consumers to take right decision with regard to purchase of a commodity. to bring Trademarks and Logos authentication marks such as ISI, AGMARK, BIS and other educational campaigns done in public interest.

Consumers՚ Responsibilities

Consumer education is not always about rights of the consumers, but also about responsibilities and shouldering them honestly and sincerely. Let us highlight some of the issues here.

  • Dealing with Advertisements: Companies are trying to sell their products by making attractive audio-visuals, publishing only that part which may be eye catching and hiding other crucial information and so on. Consumers need to be cautious of such deceptive advertisements.
  • Buying Quality Certified Products: There are lot of products which are certified by recognised agencies as safe to consume and good in quality. For example, the Indian Standard Institute (ISI) conducts quality testing of many consumer goods. If found proper the product is labelled with ISI mark on it. For many food products the quality assurance is certified by seal called AGMARK. Consumers should choose products with ISI mark and AGMARK.
  • Demanding Bill of the Purchase: Every consumer must demand the bill after purchase of goods and services. The bill is the proof of purchase and can be used to seek justice if the consumer feels cheated after buying the commodity. Through the bill the consumer also ensures that the government receives tax on the product because it is mandatory for the seller to mention the tax amount on the bill. Such act of the consumer makes him/her a responsible citizen of the country.
  • Being a Green Consumer: A consumer must consume those products which do not cause damage to our environment. Plastic bag is one example which has caused serious damage to the environment. People should use biodegradable products which can easily mix with soil and water after they are disposed of. Similarly, people should save electricity, gas etc by judicious use.
  • Consumers as Managers: Consumers can unite together to provide themselves and the community at large of a locality or village some basic needs such as drinking water supply, health, education etc. It is the government who acts as the manager for delivery of services.

Major Concerns of Consumer Movement in India

For successful consumer movement people need to be educated. India is not only highly populated but also culturally diverse and has vast number of illiterates. So, bringing consumer awareness is a big task. It is slowly picking up and lots to be done in this regard.

Two major concerns are:

  • spreading consumer awareness in rural area of India: the rural consumers in India are generally ignorant and illiterate. So, they are exploited by the manufacturers, traders and service providers. Rural consumers face problems like fake brands, spurious products, lack warranties and guarantees, imitation, unreasonable pricing, lack of varieties and so on. There is a need for spreading consumer awareness in the rural areas more seriously.
  • timely delivery of justice: the consumer courts are quasi-judicial bodies that need to follow a simple, summary procedure for quick disposal of complaints. However repeated adjournments, delays on the part of the state government to fill up the posts of judges and unnecessary technicalities slow down the process of justice for the consumers. Delays often take away the essence of the law.

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