In recent years, consumer understanding of their legal rights has steadily increased.
Consumer protection is a worldwide acknowledgment and worries that consumers are a weak party when it comes to purchasing products and services as compared to the producers and dealers who make and sell them.
In an ideal world, a market economy in which enterprises compete to offer products and services to customers would better serve their interests, however, consumers are often abused by unfair and restrictive trade practices. The customer, far from being a sovereign, is a kid who is incapable of resisting or challenging the providers of products and services.
As a result, even in a free-market economy, man needs legal protection of his rights. Even in a regulated economy where state businesses play a major role, consumer protection is important since consumers’ rights are likely to be rejected in their case as well.
The majority of people acquire things and services after being enticed by advertising that exaggerates the contents and quality of the items or services. If they are to be safeguarded against exploitation and deceit by suppliers, legal assistance is essential so that erring vendors may be brought to justice.
Because of this growing awareness of consumers’ powerlessness and the need to defend their lawful rights, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1985 urging member states to implement preventative, protective, and curative measures for the benefit of consumers.
As a result of this resolution, member states were expected to establish agencies for adjudication of consumer claims and to create a suitable atmosphere for consumer protection. Consumer Councils were suggested to be established in a UN General Assembly resolution for the redress of consumer complaints and claims.
Following that, we’ll lay out the rights of customers and explain why they need to be protected. We’ll next go through the key techniques for consumer protection, as well as the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 and its subsequent changes in 2002 for the protection of consumer rights and the resolution of consumer disputes.
how consumers are exploited in India?
There are many ways can be considered where Indian consumers are exploited; some of them are given below;
In the cheating process, consumers use in different forms like providing waste quality goods or materials, contaminated goods, getting more charges for services and commodities, etc. That kind of event is known as consumer exploitation.
Charging a high price
If we are talking about India, the shopkeeper or traders charge a higher price from consumers with the intent to gain unauthentic profit. Which is comparably high from the actual market price; It happens because of the consumer’s lack of awareness and knowledge.
Provide adulterated and unclear products
These types of cheating are commonly used with edible products, like ghee, oil, spices, and different kinds of such items.
Traders or shopkeepers are trying to sell that type of product that is quality-based, dull, or low. Moreso, now we can see that many identical products are entered the market. Naturally, the quality of such products also exists low.
Now in these days, we see lots of competition between companies; as a result, they spend much more money on campaigning and advertising their product. Using this method, they want to attract more consumer base from the market. They provide the information that the consumer wants to know but do not provide essential information that the consumer has to know about the product.
Poor service method
There are many things required to fulfill after completion of sales service. However, most sellers can not provide that after the sale.
Some traders cleverly use this method to cheat their consumers. They use a different kind of technique to scoop low and underweight quantities.
Make fake claims
Through the advertisement of their products, some sellers make false or fake claims that do not exist in reality.
To gain unauthentic profit, some sellers show a reduction in stock through black marketing purposes.
Consumers in industrialized nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom are considerably more aware of their rights. However, in nations like India, customers are particularly susceptible owing to poverty, illiteracy, and a lack of understanding of legal rights. As a consequence, customers are often exploited by manufacturers and suppliers of products and services that engage in unfair and restrictive trade practices.
Consumer awareness is growing in India as well, and customers who have been fooled or abused are increasingly turning to government-run consumer forums or councils for the resolution of their grievances and payment of their claims for damages.
The following are some of the most important consumer rights:
The right to be heard first:
If a customer has a complaint or grievance about a product or service, he or she has the right to be heard. This means that customer complaints and concerns must be given proper treatment and care in a suitable place.
The Right to a Safe Environment:
Consumers have a right to health and safety protection from the products and services they purchase. They should not be given items or services that endanger their health or safety.
The Right to be Free of Exploitation:
This includes the right to be protected against unfair commercial practices and unethical exploitation of customers by providers of products or services who charge exorbitant rates.
Right to Information:
This means that customers should be provided with accurate and complete information about the quality of the things they purchase. They should be informed about the product’s composition, freshness, and any potential adverse effects that may develop as a consequence of consuming a commodity. This entitlement is particularly applicable to medication producers and suppliers.
In India, the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enacted, which was subsequently revised in 2002, and it established most consumer rights as well as a process for resolving their grievances.
Need of Consumer Protection:
Consumers are generally denied their basic rights, particularly in developing nations like India. Consumers are dispersed around the nation, and they are impoverished, uneducated, and typically unaware of their rights, but this is changing. Consumers are often exploited by manufacturers and suppliers of products and services that engage in a variety of unfair and restrictive trade practices. They often combine and create unspoken cartels to increase prices and maximize profits at the cost of customers.
In the case of pharmaceuticals, for example, producers often demand exorbitant prices that are much beyond their cost of manufacturing. Some pharmaceutical corporations make use of their patent rights to take advantage of customers. As a result, they need protection against manufacturers and suppliers of products and services that engage in unfair and restrictive trade practices.
Another way that companies trick customers is via misleading advertising. There are two sorts of advertising. One kind of advertisement is informational advertising, which educates customers about the availability of certain items at specific pricing. This is not problematic since it supplies customers with information.
Manufacturers and suppliers, on the other hand, often use advertisements to mislead customers about the quality and contents of their goods and services. They use what is known as persuasive advertising to entice clients away from their competitors. These persuasion ads serve no positive societal function and contribute to consumer deceit.
When the cost of advertising is added to the cost of manufacturing, customers are faced with very expensive pricing. Millions of rupees are spent on film celebrities and cricket players as brand ambassadors, as well as ads in print and electronic media, to encourage the sale of their goods, as Indian readers are well aware.
Who is it that the high advertising expenditures are recouped from? Such large advertising budgets just allow firms to preserve their product’s market share while not adding much to its overall production. Consumers need safeguards against such deceit in attractive marketing. The government should not accept such high advertising costs as genuine costs for calculating the taxable earnings of businesses.
The widespread practice of adulteration of goods by suppliers, particularly in India, is another very harmful practice. Adulteration by the private sector may occur anywhere throughout the supply chain, from the point of manufacture to the final customer.
Small pebbles and dust have been discovered to be blended with wheat, maize, jawar, and bajra to enhance weight, sand with cement, and leaves and barks of various trees with tea leaves. Vanaspati is often combined with Desi ghee, butter, and other ingredients. All of these adulteration activities endanger the health and lives of customers, and they must be protected. The most harmful is the prevalent practice in India by producers and sellers of counterfeit medications, which do enormous damage to people’s health and lives.
Consumer protection movements have sprung up as a consequence of the aforementioned tactics of manufacturers and suppliers, forcing governments to pass laws to protect consumers.
Important Methods of Consumer Protection:
Important Consumer Protection Methods: How can consumers be protected against the unfair, restricted, misleading, and exploitative manufacturer and supplier practices?
The following are some of the most significant consumer protection measures:
- Manufacturers and providers of products and services must impose self-regulation and discipline to operate in the best interests of customers.
- The government’s involvement in enacting consumer protection legislation and making procedures for their enforcement.
- Consumers organize themselves into groups such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and cooperative societies to protect their interests.
Consumer rights are protected by these non-profit consumer associations or councils in the following ways:
- They distribute informational booklets to customers to educate them on issues that impact them.
- They have pushed for adequate product labeling, including the maximum price that may be charged, the ingredients of the goods, particularly pharmaceuticals, and any potential negative effects.
- Organizing anti-misconduct campaigns against goods makers and merchants.
In the 1960s and 1970s, when prices of commodities were skyrocketing, volunteer consumer organizations arose in Delhi, Mumbai, and other major cities to combat arbitrarily raised pricing by sellers. The concept for a Super Bazar based on cooperative principles arose from consumer price resistance groups. In addition, by late, a group called ‘Common Cause’ was formed. Mr. H.D. Shourie, located in Delhi, performed a fantastic job in preserving consumer rights.
Consumer cooperative movements arose to safeguard consumers from fraud and unscrupulous dealers of products. A consumer cooperative is a non-profit organization founded by consumers to promote their common interests. In comparison to merchants and producers, consumers have more negotiating power.
Consumer cooperatives provide the following benefits to their members:
- These cooperatives can deliver items to customers at low costs because they buy in bulk and often directly from the producers.
- The cooperatives are controlled by the customers themselves. As a result, they may expect standard quality and pure items.
- Because cooperative societies utilize accurate weights and measures, customers are protected against deceit in this respect.
- Consumer cooperatives in India specialize in delivering necessary items at fixed pricing.
Despite voluntary organizations’ best attempts to protect consumers and maintain their lawful rights, these organizations have not been successful in doing so. Their expansion has mostly been confined to house-building groups.
Other voluntary cooperative organizations operate at the level of products distribution and can eliminate middleman fraud. However, the fundamental issue is to protect customers against monopolistic, unfair, and restrictive trade practices by makers of products and services, as well as deceptive advertising used to exploit consumers.
Understanding product warranties, service contracts, preventing fraud, and obtaining a consumer report are all important aspects of preserving your financial health. Keeping track of these statistics helps you to make better-informed decisions and get more bang for your buck. Among the legislation are the Home Owner Protection Act, the Home Affordable Modification Program, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, the Fair Debt Collection Act, and the Fair Credit Billing Act. There are several other pieces of legislation worth understanding that apply in specific situations.