RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS

RIGHTS OF CONSUMERS
15th March is observed every year "Consumer Rights Day" throughout the world. This is because on this day in the year 1962, the then president of U.S.A. declared certain rights (first four of the following) of consumers. Some more rights were added later on by the International Organisation of Consumers Union.
The Consumer Protection Act, passed by the Indian government in 1986 also incorporates these rights of consumers. Along with that, two more (last two of the following) rights were added by the Amendment Act in 1993 and 2002.
Following are the various rights of consumers:
1.       Right to Safety : It is one of the basic rights of consumers. It protects them against the marketing of those goods and services which are hazardous to their life and property. In other words, traders should assure that the goods to be sold will not cause any damage to life or property of the consumer. If the goods are of hazardous nature then clear instructions must be given on how to use the goods and also the risk involved in the improper use of the goods: Even in case of ordinary goods, care has to be taken. e.g. a chemist should not sell the medicines after its expiry date or a hotel owner should not serve stale food to his customers. Sometimes, it may happen that the product is found to be hazardous after selling it in the market. In such a situation-the Right to Safety expects the trader to recall the product or to modify it or he should compensate, the consumer for the damage.
2.       Right to Information : According to this right, consumers should get correct information about the price, quality, purity, quantity, ingredients, etc. of the goods to be purchased. He should also be properly instructed about the use of the product and risks involved in improper use of the product. e.g. the wrapper should contain the information regarding date of manufacturing, date of expiry, ingredients used, price etc. or pack of electronic item should contain Instruction Manual etc. This information allows consumers to make right choice of goods and services. It also assures safety of consumer as well as the article itself.
Observe any five products of different types and see whether the wrappers or packs provide relevant information in detail.

3.       Rights to Choose: Today's markets are full of variety of goods. The consumer should be able to make a choice from a wide range of products. He has a right to choose the goods as per his need and budget. Very often traders use pressure tactics for selling poor quality goods. 'The Right to Choose enables a consumer to select a suitable product from among the available variety in the market at a competitive price. This right restricts monopolistic tendencies in the market. No seller can compel consumers to buy a particular product or service.
4.       Right to be heard : This right assures that consumer grievances and complaints will be heard and will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. This right allows a consumer to express his views about the product or service brought by him. Every consumer has the right to file a complaint and be heard about it. e.g. a consumer watches an advertisement on TV that promises free home delivery of an article. He orders the article by making payment on line. But at the time of actual delivery of the article the person denies the delivery without paying delivery charges. In such a situation the consumer has every right to file a suit against the seller for misleading advertisement.
5.       Right to Redressal: Only filing a complaint is not sufficient for a consumer to get justice, so the Right to Redressal is also recognised along with the Right to Represent. This right enables a consumer to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation. This right assures proper legal arrangement to attend to his complaint and to get it redressed. It is done through Consumer Protection Act, 1986 under which District Forum, State Commission and National Commission is established. It entitles the consumer to get due compensation in case of any loss suffered by him.
6.       Right to Education: This right entitles the consumer to know about consumer rights, market practices and remedies available to them. This knowledge creates awareness among consumers and they can protect themselves from unfair trade practices in a better way. The government, media as well as various NGOs can play a significant role to create awareness among consumers and to educate them. e.g. Jago Grahak Jago campaign.
         Consumer awareness and education are very essential to stop malpractices in the market. Consumers should be educated about the ways in which they can be cheated, relevant laws which can help them and the procedure involved in taking legal help.
7.       Right to Healthy Environment : As a human being the consumer has the right to lead his life in a healthy environment. They must have clean and pollution free environment in the present as well as the future. e.g. if production process of a manufacturer is creating air and water pollution then society can take objection. Measures like Public Interest Litigation can be used.
         The picture shows the wrong way to dispose off industrial waste in river. It creates water pollution which must not be done by any business house.
8.       Right to Protect Against Unfair Trade Practices:
         As the name suggests, this right offers protection to consumers against any kind of unfair trade practices. Consumers can raise their voice against wrong measurements, artificial shortages, exorbitant prices, etc. This right was incorporated by the Amendments Act, 1993.
9.       Right to Protect Against Spurious Goods:
         This right has been added to the Consumer Protection Act by the Amendments Act, 2002. According to this right, consumers are protected from marketing of spurious and hazardous goods. It protects public health and life.

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