Consumer Law

Consumer Rights and Responsibilities

Right to safety

Means right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property. The purchased goods and services availed of should not only meet their immediate needs, but also fulfil long term interests. Before purchasing, consumers should insist on the quality of the products as well as on the guarantee of the products and services. They should preferably purchase quality marked products such as ISI, AGMARK, etc.

Right to choose

Means right to be assured, wherever possible of access to variety of goods and services at competitive price. In case of monopolies, it means right to be assured of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price. It also includes right to basic goods and services. This is because unrestricted right of the minority to choose can mean a denial for the majority of its fair share. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices

Right to be informed

Means right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices. Consumer should insist on getting all the information about the product or service before making a choice or a decision. This will enable him to act wisely and responsibly and also enable him to desist from falling prey to high pressure selling techniques.

Right to consumer education

Means the right to acquire the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer throughout life. Ignorance of consumers, particularly of rural consumers, is mainly responsible for their exploitation. They should know their rights and must exercise them. Only then real consumer protection can be achieved with success.

Right to be heard

Means that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. It also includes right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer’s welfare. The Consumers should form non-political and non-commercial consumer organizations which can be given representation in various committees formed by the Government and other bodies in matters relating to consumers.

Right to Seek redressal

Means right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also includes right to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. Consumers must make complaint for their genuine grievances.Many a times their complaint may be of small value but its impact on the society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of consumer organisations in seeking redressal of their grievances.

As the markets are globalizing, the direct link between the manufacturer and the final user getting distant, post purchase grievances have to be heard through a strong redressal system. For this, Consumer disputes redressal agencies (popularly known as Consumer Forums or Consumer Courts) are set up under the Act at District, State and National level to provide simple and inexpensive quick redressal against consumer complaints. The District forum deals with complaints where the compensation sought is less than 23 lakhs. This limit is commonly known as the ‘pecuniary jurisdiction’ of the Consumer Redressal Forum. The State Forum deals with the complaints where the value of the goods and services and compensation claimed does not exceed rupees one crore and the National Forum entertains the complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation claimed exceeds rupees one crore.

The Consumer Forum can order the company to take the following actions once it hears the complaint and decides that the company is at fault:

  • Correct deficiencies in the product to what they claim.
  • Repair defect free of charges
  • Replace product with similar or superior product
  • Issue a full refund of the price
  • Pay compensation for damages / costs / inconveniences
  • Withdraw the sale of the product altogether
  • Discontinue or not repeat any unfair trade practice or the restrictive trade practice
  • Issue corrective advertisement for any earlier misrepresentation

Consumer Protection Act

An Act to provide for protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and
settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith.” (According to Consumer Protection Act, 2019).

“An Act to provide for better protection of the interests of consumers and for that purpose to make provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith.” (According to Consumer Protection Act, 1986).

Consumer Protection Act, 1986 seeks to promote and protect the interest of consumers against deficiencies and defects in goods or services. It also seeks to secure the rights of a consumer against unfair or restrictive trade practices. This act was passed in Lok Sabha on 9th December,1986 and Rajya Sabha on 10th December, 1986 and assented by the President of India on 24th December, 1986 and was published in the Gazette of India on 26th December, 1986.

Consumer Responsibilities:

Be Critically Aware

  • The responsibility to be more alert and to question more – about prices, about quantity and quality of goods bought and services used.

Be Involved

  • The responsibility to be assertive – to ensure that you get a fair deal as a consumer. Remember, if you are passive, you are likely to be exploited.

Be Organized

  • The responsibility to join hands and raise voices as consumers; to fight in a collective and to develop the strength and influence to promote and protect consumer interest.

Practice Sustainable Consumption

  • The responsibility to be aware of the impact of your consumption on other citizens, especially the disadvantaged or powerless groups; and to consume based on needs – not wants.

Be Responsible to the Environment

  • The responsibility to be aware and to understand the environmental consequences of our consumption. We should recognize our individual and social responsibility to conserve natural resources and protect the earth for future generations.

Consumer Rights Vs. Responsibilities

1Right to be heard1. Ensure that the company has provided you the contact details of the consumer grievance handling system and are easily accessible.
2. Avoid purchase of products/services from a company which do not provide
details of the consumer grievance officers to handle consumer grievances
2Right to Redress1. Ignoring the loss suffered on purchase of defective goods and services and not filing complaint encourages the corrupt business man to supply low standards or defective goods and services. Therefor file a complaint even for a small loss. File only a genuine complaint.
2. Consumer must file a complaint if not satisfied with the quality of product/services.
3. Claim the penalties/compensation as provided under rules and regulations to ensure that the quality delivery system improves.
4. Study carefully all terms and conditions related to return/replacement of defective goods, refund and warranty policies.
3Right to Safety1. While purchasing the goods or services, Consumer must look for standard
quality mark such as ISI, Hallmark, Agmark, ISO, FSSAI , etc.
2. Do not buy any spurious/ fake/duplicate/ hazardous products
4Right to Consumer Education/ Right to be Informed1. Do not get carried away by advertisements only or believe on the words of the seller. Consumer must look market reviews/feedback. Similarly inform offers if product and services of companies are of substandard.
2. Consumer must insist on getting complete information on the quality, quantity, utility, price etc. of the product or services.
3. Ask for complete contact details of the consumer grievance mechanism of the company the consumer wish to buy from
5Right to Choose1. Access the information available on various alternatives available for the product and services under purchase consideration.
2. Compare specifications, competition and fair prices of the goods and services before finalizing on the purchase
3. Study various feedbacks/reviews of the products/services

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