#ConsumerRightsDay: 6 rights you should know about
Cases of cheating and fraud are common, especially in India, with its 1.2 billion people and lax laws. It therefore becomes imperative to be aware of your consumer rights to prevent getting duped and be able to efficiently seek redressal in case of a misadventure. To mark World Consumer Rights Day today, we look at the six rights you should be aware of.
Greetings on World Consumer Rights Day. The consumer plays an important role in the economy.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 15, 2018
Government of India is not only focussing on consumer protection but also consumer prosperity. pic.twitter.com/avsAEhtowZ
Instituted by Consumers International (CI), a global authoritative voice for consumers with over 200-member organizations across 100 countries, it was first celebrated in 1983 to empower consumers and spread awareness. The idea was inspired by American President John F Kennedy, who spoke about consumer rights to the US Congress on March 15, 1962, becoming the first global leader to do so.
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 safeguards Indians against fraudulent businesses and marketing practices by providing them six rights and establishing consumer councils and grievance cells for quick and efficient redressal.
'Right to Safety' entitles you protection against the marketing of hazardous goods and services which could cause harm to your health, life or property. Always remember: To double check the quality, guarantee and expiry date of the products/services you are availing. Buy only certified products, the ones with quality marks such as ISI, AGMARK.
'Right to be Informed' empowers you to know all about the quality, quantity, purity, standard, potency and the price of your purchase. The pictorial warnings on cigarette boxes are an example of the marketers warning you of the ill-effects of tobacco. Always remember: To ascertain all questions you may have about the product. It is a seller's duty to inform you.
'Right to Choose' gives every customer the chance to have several options of competitively priced goods/services to select from. It empowers consumers with availability, ability and access to variety at a fair price. Moreover, producers or suppliers or retailers cannot force you to buy something you don't want or like. You have the right to exert your independent choice. Always remember: MRPs are negotiable.
'Right to be Heard' gives you the opportunity to be represented and given due consideration at appropriate forums to protect your welfare. Other than consumer courts, there are several websites such as jagograhakjago.com which help customers reach out to corporates by giving them a platform to voice grievances and file complaints. Always remember: To report a malpractice/fraud. It might caution others.
Thanks to 'Right to Redressal', you can sue producers/sellers and demand damages in case of an unpleasant experience with a product/service. However, in India, consumers are many and courts few. As of 2015, over 30 million cases were pending, which would take an estimated 320 years to wind up. But there have been several landmark judgments in the favor of consumers over the years.
Ignorance breeds exploitation. 'Right to Consumer Education' urges every person to be an informed consumer and acquire the knowledge/skills to remain one. This right especially empowers illiterate consumers who are more likely to be defrauded. Consumer education is a part of school curriculum and university courses. The government also routinely broadcasts and prints ads to raise awareness.