After reading this article you will learn about Consumer’s Rights and Responsibilities.
Consumer rights are now an integral part of our lives like a consumerist way of life. They have been well documented and much talked about. We have all made use of them at some point in our daily lives. Market resources and influences are growing by the day and so is the awareness of one’s consumer rights.
These rights are well-defined and there are agencies like the government, consumer courts and voluntary organisations that work towards safeguarding them. While we all like to know about our rights and make full use of them, consumer responsibility is an area which is still not demarcated.
As Under Consumer Protection Act, consumer has the following rights:
1. Right to Safety:
It is right to safety against such goods and services as are hazards to health, life and property of the consumer. For example, spurious and sub-standard drugs; appliances made of low quality of raw material, such as, electric press, pressure cooker, etc., and low quality food products like bread, milk, jam, butter etc. Consumers have the right to safety against loss caused by such products.
2. Right to be Informed/ Right to Representation:
Consumer has also the right that he should be provided all those information on the basis of which he decides to buy goods or services. This information relates to quality, purity, potency, standard, date of manufacture, method of use, etc., of the commodity. Thus, producer is required to provide all these information in a proper manner, so that consumer is not cheated.
3. Right to Choose:
Consumer has the full right to buy goods or services of his choice from among the different goods or services available in the market. In other words, no seller can influence his choice in an unfair manner. If any seller does so, it will be deemed as interference in his right to choice.
4. Right to be Heard:
Consumer has the right that his complaint be heard. Under this Right the consumer can file complaint against all those things which prejudicial to his interest. First there rights mentioned above (Right to Safety; Right to be Informed; Right to choose) have relevance only if the consumer has right to file his complaint against them.
These days, several large and small organisations have set up Consumer service cells with a view to providing the right to be heard to the consumer. The function of the cell is to hear the complaints of the consumers and to take adequate measures to redress them. Many newspapers like The Economic Times have weekly special columns to entertain the complaints of the consumers.
5. Right to Seek Redress:
This provides compensation to consumer against unfair trade practice of the seller. For instance, if the quantity and the quality of the product do not confirm to the promise of the seller, the buyer has the right to claim compensation, such as free repair of the product, taking back of the products, changing of the product by the seller.
6. Right to Consumer Education:
Consumer education refers to educate the consumer constantly with regards to their rights. In other words, consumers must be aware of the rights they enjoy against the loss they suffer on account of goods and services purchased by them.
Government has taken several measures to educate the consumers. For instance, Ministry of civil supplies publishes a quarterly magazine under the title “Upbhokta Jagran”. Doodarshan telecasts programme tittles “Sanrakshan Upbhokta Ka”.
In addition to this six rights of consumer given by govt., of India, The United Nations organisation also given two rights:
i. Right to Basic Needs:
The basic need means those goods and services which are necessary for the dignified living of people. It includes adequate food, clothing, shelter, energy, sanitation, health, care, education and transportation. All consumers have the right fulfil these basic needs.
ii. Right to Healthy Environment:
This right provides consumers the protection against environment pollution so that the quality of life is enhanced. Not only this, it also gives stress that the need to protect the environment is for future generations as well.
The consumers have a number of rights regarding the purchase of things, but at the same time they have some responsibilities too. It means that the consumer should keep a few things in mind while purchasing them.
They are as follows:
1. Consumer Should Exercise his Right:
Consumers have many rights with regard to the goods and services. They must be aware of their rights while buying. These rights are: Right to safety, Right to be informed, Right to representation, Right to seek redressal, Right to consumer education, etc.
2. Cautious Consumer/Do not Buy Blindly:
The consumers should make full use of their reason while buying things. They should not take the seller’s word as final truth. In other words, while buying consumer must get information regarding the quality, quantity, price, utility, etc., of goods and services.
3. Filing Complaint for the Redressal of Genuine Grievances:
It is the responsibility of a consumer to approach the officer concerned if there is any complaint about the goods purchased. A late complaint may find that the period of guarantee/warrantee has lapsed. Sometimes, consumers ignore the deception of businessmen. This tendency encourages corrupt business practices.
4. Consumer Must be Quality Conscious/Do not Compromise on Quality:
The consumers should never compromise on the quality of goods. Therefore, they should not buy inferior stuff out of greed for less prices. If the consumers behave like this, there cannot be any protection for them from any quarter. It is also the responsibility of the consumers only to buy goods with the ISI, Ag-mark, Wool-mark, FPO, etc., printed on them. All these symbols are indicative of the good quality of the goods.
5. Advertisements Often Exaggerate/Beware of False Advertisement:
The seller informs the consumer about their things through the medium of advertisement. The sellers exaggerate the quality of their goods. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the consumers to recognise the truth of advertisement.
6. Do not Forget to get Receipt and Guarantee/Warrantee Card:
One should always get a receipt or bill for the things purchased. In case a guarantee/warrantee card is also offered by seller, it should also be taken. In case the goods purchased are of inferior quality or some defects appears and bothers the customers, these documents will be of great help in settling all kinds of dispute with the seller.
7. Do not Buy in Hurry:
The first important responsibility of consumers is that they should not buy in a hurry. It means that the consumers should make an estimate of the things they want to buy along with the quantity required by them. They should also take in consideration the place from where to buy the things.