Who is a Consumer?
The consumer is any person who buys a product or avails a service for a consideration, either his personal use or to earn for his livelihood. The consideration can be- Paid, promised, or partly paid or promised to pay.
Also, include any beneficiary of such goods/services when such uses are made with the approval of such persons.
Buying goods or hiring services also includes offline or online transactions through electronic means or teleshopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing.
Why Consumer Protection is needed?
The need for consumer protection arises because of the loss or injury or other prevailing malpractices and to ensure-
- Physical safety of a consumer.
- Access to information.
- Social justice
- Corporate social responsibility to provide quality and quantity of goods at a fair price.
What is Consumer Protection Act, 2019?
This act confers a certain right to the consumer in the view to empowering them or protecting their interests. It helps to protect and promote the consumers’ interest through speedy and inexpensive redressal of their grievance. It is extended to the whole of India, and is applicable to all businesses whether a manufacturer or a trader and whether a supplier or who supplies the e-commerce firms.
- Right to safety
- Right to be informed
- Right to be assured
- Right to be heard
- Right to seek redressal
- Right to consumer education.
- Be aware of different goods and services available in the market so that you make an intelligent and wise choice.
- Buys only standardized goods because they provide quality assurance, e.g., ISI mark on electrics good, FPO mark on the food product, Hallmark on jewellery, etc.
- Always read the information label before using the product, follow manufacturer instructions and use the product safely.
- Always take bills after purchasing.
- Before purchasing a product always check information like prices, net weight, manufacturing and expiry date, etc.
- Always buy approved goods and discourage sellers who sell the product without having registered or temporary mark brand name (we should be vocal for local, but tracing, registering an FIR or taking legal action against product without registered or tm brand name is difficult), black marketing, hoarding.
Redressal Agencies under the Consumer Protection Act
For solving the consumer grievance, the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides the Three-tier machinery which is the District, State and the National Level, known as the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. They are also known as the ‘District Commission”, “State Commission”,”National Commission’. District and the State forum is set up by State Government and the National Forum was set up by the Central Government.
- District Commission- it deals with the cases where the goods and service consideration doesn’t exceed more than 1 crore, after filing the cases at the district level either on the first stage or on the later date, the court may direct them to settle the disputes through mediation within five days only with the consent of both parties. However, if there is a failure of settlement through mediation, and the complaint alleges the defects in goods, then the court obtain the sample, seal it, and refer it to the appropriate authority for the test. In the case of services, the dispute is settled based on the evidence and even asks for the information records and documents from the service provider for settlement. If any of the parties aren’t satisfied by the order of the District Commission they can appeal against such order to the State Commission, within 45 days.
- State Commission- it entertains the cases where the goods and service consideration doesn’t exceed more than 10 crores. And if any of the parties aren’t satisfied by the order of the State Commission then they can appeal against such order to the National Commission within 30 days.
- National Commission- the jurisdiction of this court is all over India, it entertains the cases where the value of the goods and service doesn’t exceed more than 10 crores. If any of the parties aren’t satisfied by the order of the National Commission then they can appeal against such order to the Supreme Court within 30 Days.
Relief Available by the Commission
- To pay reasonable compensation for any loss or injury suffered by the consumer due to the negligence of the opposite party.
- To discontinue unfair or restrictive trade practices and not to repeat them in future.
- Not to offer hazardous goods for sale.
- To refund the price paid for the product or the charger paid for the services.
- To remove the defect from the goods and service.
- To replace the defective goods with the new one, free from any defect.
- Compensate for any losses suffered by the consumer under the product liability, and withdraw such product from the markets.
In India, Several Consumer NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) have also been set up for educating, protecting and promoting the consumer’s interest. They are free from government intervention and have their constitution. NGOs perform several Function and these includes-
- Educating the public about their consumer rights.
- Providing legal assistance or remedy to the aggrieved consumer.
- Help consumers file cases in consumer forums.
- Carrying out the comparative test of consumer products in acknowledge laboratories and published test results for consumer benefits.
And many more activities NGOs do for the consumer benefits.