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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consumer Protection Act: Consumers - Rights and Responsibilities

Section 2 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 defines the term "consumer". It says ‘consumer’ means any person:
a)      Who buys goods and has paid or promised to pay a consideration partly or fully under any system of deferred payment.
b)      Who hires or avails of services and has paid or promised to pay a consideration partly or fully under any system of deferred payment.
c)       Who uses the goods with the approval of the person who has bought the goods for a consideration
d)      Who is a beneficiary of the services hired or availed by an individual with the consent of that individual?

Who is not a consumer?
a)      An applicant for a passport has been held to be not a consumer, because the duties of the passport officer do not fall in the category of services for consideration.

b)      An applicant for ration card is not a consumer.
c)       The beneficiaries of municipal services have been held to be not in the category of consumers.

Rights of Consumers:
a)      The right to safety: It refers to the right to be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life. It includes concern for consumers immediate and long term needs.
b)      The right to be informed: Consumers have a right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services so that they can make the right decision and protect themselves against malpractices.
c)       The right of choice: The consumer has the right to be assured of a choice of various goods and services of satisfactory quality and competitive price.
d)      Right to representation (or right to be heard): It is a right and the responsibility of civil society to ensure consumer interest prevails while formulating and executing policies which affect the consumers, as well as right to be heard while developing or producing a product or service.
e)      Right to seek redressal of aggrievances: The consumer has the right go to court if he has been unscrupulously exploited against unfair or restrictive trade practices and receives compensation for supply of unsatisfactory or shoddy goods.
f)       The right to consumer education: It is the right to acquire knowledge and skills to be an informed consumer because it is easier for the literate to know their rights and to take actions to influence factors that affect consumer’s decisions. The Union and State Governments have accepted the introduction of consumer education in school curriculum.
g)      Right to basic needs: It is the right to receive the eight basic necessities that are required to survive and lead a dignified life. These eight basic necessities include food, clothing, shelter, health care, sanitation, education, energy and transportation.
h)      Right to healthy environment: It is the right to be protected against environmental pollution and environmental degradation so as to enhance the quality of life of both the present and future generation.

Main responsibility of consumer are given as under-
a)      Be aware about their right: Consumer must be aware of their own rights. This right is right to basics needs, right to consumer education, right to be informed, right to be choose, right to be safety, right to be heard and right to seek redressed of grievances.
b)      Quality conscious: while making purchase, consumer should look for quality certification makes like ISI on electrical appliances and Agmark on food product etc.
c)       Must obtain cash memo: Consumer must insist on cash memos as cash memo act as proof of purchase. No seller can deny given cash memo. A seller is bound to give a cash memo even if buyer doesn’t ask for it.
d)      Be Assertive: The consumer must be assertive in his dealings.
e)      Be Honest: Consumer must act honestly and choose goods/services, which are legitimate. They should also discourage unscrupulous practices like misleading advertisements and black marketing etc.
f)       Ready to lodge complaints: Consumer should not ignore the dishonesty to trader. The consumer should file a complaint even for a small loss. However, they should file complaints for the redressed of genuine grievances only.

g)      Respect Environment: Consumer should avoid polluting the environment.