For most of us who love shopping, it is important to decipher the real essence of the word ‘Consumer’. In simple words, a consumer is any individual who purchases a good or service for their personal use. But in the contemporary world, you might have come across many instances of consumer exploitation. This can range from food adulteration, wrong information and defective products to skyrocketing prices, the improper weight of a product, etc. This is why it becomes important to become an aware and informed consumer. This blog brings you a detailed analysis of consumer rights, their different types and other related features.
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Historical Overview of Consumer Rights
Consumer rights are designed to protect the interests of consumers and secure them from malpractices such as rampant black marketing and hoarding. As a consumer, it is important that you stay updated with the information regarding the quality, potency, quantity, purity, price and standard of goods or services.
Since the exploitation in the market faced by consumers is going on for ages, a popular movement started throughout the country in the 1960s to challenge such consumer exploitations. It took a robust shape in the next decade with many articles were published and protests happened. Finally, in the year 1986, the ‘Consumer Protection Act’ was passed by the Government of India also known as COPRA. Earlier in 1985, the United Nations had issued guidelines to protect consumers which were followed by many countries. It resulted in the creation of National consumer Protection organizations headed by the Consumers International which is an amalgamation of many consumer organizations of 115 countries.
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List of Consumer Rights
As per the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a consumer has a right to participate in a transparent marketplace. Let’s take a look at the main 6 Consumer Rights in India:
- Right to Safety
- Right to be Informed
- Right to Choose
- Right to be Heard
- Right to Seek Redressal
- Right to Consumer Education
Right to Safety
The Right to Safety elucidates the protection of consumers against the marketing those goods and services which might be harmful to life and property. In order to ensure your own safety while purchasing a product, you have the right to ask about the quality of the products including its guarantee and quality mark and certifications. It is one of the prominent consumer rights that aims to bring quality and transparency in the market and the Consumer Court has also introduced quality marks for different products like ISA, AGMARK, etc. to encourage consumers to buy quality marked goods.
Right to be Informed
A consumer has a right to know about the nuances of the product while purchasing it. In order to do away with the unfair practices, this right aims to help every individual inquire about the quality of products apart from its quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods. It is quintessential that all sort of information related to a particular product is provided to you, before buying the product wisely. Amongst the different consumer rights, this one assists the consumer in acting wisely and responsibly thus protecting them from falling for any high-pressure selling techniques.
Right to Choose
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 also provides you with the essential right to make your own choice in terms of buying goods and services. Any seller can never force their consumer to buy a specific product or service and if this happens, then the consumer has the right to report the Consumer Court. Amongst the key consumer rights, this one is better executed in markets with higher competition amid a variety of goods which are available on a range of prices or simpler terms where bargaining power is more. It is referred to as the right to be assured and gives the buyer a choice to buy any goods and services as per their preferences and interests.
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Right to be Heard
It means if any seller violates a consumer’s rights then the consumer can reach the forum to voice their concerns. Every consumer is given the right to be heard in Consumer court and other organisations which are solely meant to save consumer rights. This particular right emphasises on empowering the Indian masses to present their opinion fearlessly against any malpractice in the marketplace.
Right to Seek Redressal
Every consumer has the right to put forward their genuine grievances and plights against unscrupulous exploitation. You have the right to seek redressal of your problems and get your queries resolved. On an everyday basis, a large number of cases are being heard at district levels and redressed accordingly.
Right to Consumer Education
As a consumer, you need to be aware of your rights and responsibilities. This right aims at empowering every consumer about their rights. For this purpose, consumer associations, educational institutions as well as Government policymakers play a crucial role in consumer education by informing every individual about the duties, responsibilities and reliefs available to them.
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