This article is written by Muskaan Bangani from Mody University of Science and Technology, Lakshmangarh, Rajasthan and curated by Dheepika R from ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to protect the consumers from the unfair trade practices in India and also promote speedy justice, inexpensive redressal of grievances with effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes in India. It is observed that the advertisements showcased by the firms are often misleading which results in convincing the consumer to buy those products which are harmful to their health. So, these wrong, fake, or misleading advertisements result in the consumer spending the money on these goods. Not only misleading advertisements, but the dealers also do not give a receipt for the purchase of the goods, in this situation the aggrieved consumers can join together and file a complaint to the authority as a class action and then, the authority can take appropriate action against the dealer and stop their unfair trade practice. Advertisements of any products are mostly done by renowned celebrities as there might be an agreement between the manufacturer and the endorsing person. The consumer buys the goods on the trust that the endorse person might have tested and used the product. But later on, the manufacturer changes or amend the product after endorsement.
Consumers should always be aware of their rights, the rights are as follows:
Rights to Protection/Safety:
The consumer must be aware of the knowledge of the product he is buying to assure that the product is good for health and free of creating any environmental hazard. The consumers should be educated about the various types of hazards and problems associated with the advertisement of a product. The manufacturer or trader must give the best quality goods. In respect of services, they should ensure that the norms are followed. Hotels, restaurants are responsible for your safety and Banks are also responsible for any fraud and your money should be safe in your account and for any misuse of fraud or ATM and vice versa. You can always demand your safety of goods and services.
Right to be informed:
The consumers have the right to be informed of the goods and services that are delivered by the seller. It is the responsibility of manufacturers, dealer’s and traders to inform the consumers in respect of, what is the batch number, expiry date, packing date, ingredients, the hallmark, ISI mark, etc. which shows the standard is maintained by the manufacturer or producer. In respect of home appliances information concerning who is the manufacturer, what is the period of warranty or guarantee given by the manufacturer, and what is the cost. In any educational institute, there should be a separate inquiry office or prospectus with full information about the subjects, about the institute, and the fee structure. In airports or Railway stations, there will be board displayed or an inquiry counter will be there and the consumer will get all the information about the arrival, delay, cancellation, or departure. If information is not available, the consumer has a right to get the information from the concerned department, authority, institute, and other places.
Right to Choose:
The consumer has the freedom to choose from a variety of products at different prices according to their income.
Right to be Heard:
The Consumer has a right to file a complaint and to be heard in case of dissatisfaction concerning a good or a service. Business firms have also set up their consumer service and grievance cells to resolve the customer’s issue.
Right to seek redressal:
The Consumer has a right to get relief in case the product or service that fails to fulfill the expectation of the consumer. The reliefs can be in the form of replacement, removal of defects in the product, compensation, etc.
Right to Consumer Awareness:
A consumer should take an initiative to get the information about goods to be purchased. The Consumer has a right to acquire knowledge and to be well informed. Our Constitution provides for Directive Principles of State policy where the Government provides for the welfare of the people. In education level/courses the consumer protection rights/act is taught in all the schools, degree courses, etc. In the institution level whether government or non-government, workshops, education of the consumer protection act is there. The Government has its department/Ministry of Consumer Affairs which is running lots of awareness programs like Jago grahak Jago in media and there is a toll-free number for consumer complaints too and in Centre, for Consumer Research various courses and workshops are there on consumers’ protection. The consumer is also responsible to be aware and go for the correct scheme and not to be cheated.
Online shopping fraud:
There have been a lot of online shopping frauds in India. A lot of e-stores like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc. have either delivered fake or at few instances doesn’t deliver the product to the customers. I am citing a few instances in this context.
Rahul Saini, a resident from Mumbai had ordered iPhone X from Amazon. When he opened his parcel, he found soap bars instead of iPhone X. Later, he complained at the consumer forum and he received compensation.
In another case of Sheetal Das from Uttar Pradesh she had ordered original Adidas shoes from Flipkart, she received fake Adidas shoes instead.
Another case of Abhishek Kumar resident of Delhi who had ordered a set of formals from Snapdeal, instead she received an empty box filled with plastic wrappers.
A consumer must always be aware of his rights and duties. One must ensure that the goods/service he purchases is of sound quality and if he/she is denied right, they should not get deterred. In fact, they should knock the doors of Courts to restore their rights. Irrespective of the mode of shopping, there is always an agency that ensures a consumer is not blindsided by the trader, in this case- Consumer Courts.