A consumer is often referred to as the ‘king’. However, a king who is unaware of his rights is quite powerless, isn’t he? Most of us are ignorant of our consumer rights, which is why we often get duped or are at a loss when provided with a substandard product or service.
When you pay for something and you don’t get your money’s worth, you need justice. For this reason, the Consumer Protection Act was enacted on 24th December, 1986 which empowered the consumers with the following rights:
- Right to safety against hazardous goods and services. For example, if you are travelling by a bus service, make sure your driver has proper licence.
- Right to be informed about quality, quantity, purity, standard and price.
- Right to choose from a variety of competitive prices.
- Right to be heard if you are dissatisfied with your purchase.
- Right to seek redressal.
- Right to consumer education through magazines like Keemat, etc and various newspaper articles.
Have you ever paid an extra rupee for a cold drink bottle, as ‘cooling charges’? If yes, then you have been duped since the maximum retail price (MRP) includes storage and all miscellaneous costs. Moreover, MRP implies the maximum that you should be paying for that product, which means, that you have the right to bargain on that price.
Another area where you get cheated is when you buy goods without checking the expiry date. Not only is that unethical on part of the shopkeeper to sell expired goods, but it can also prove harmful to your health, especially if it’s food, cosmetics, medicines, etc that you are buying.
Also watch out for any substandard goods that are sold, or any free gifts that are withheld by the seller.
Being an Alert Consumer
There are a few ways that you can adopt to avoid being deceived:
- Always check for the quality of the product and ensure that they have the standard marks and labels such as ISI, AGMARK, etc, depending on the product category.
- Make sure that the product is within the expiry date and that the packaging gives details such as quantity, manufacturing date, etc.
- Always ask for a proper receipt if the product costs Rs. 200 and above. Don’t be satisfied with the torn piece of paper without any stamp or name of the shop.
- Do not pay more than the MRP.
Fight for your Rights:
Sometimes you may end up with a bad product or be unhappy with a service. But do not let it go thinking that nothing can be done. You can get your defective product replaced, repaired or demand a refund or compensation. However, if your complaint is not addressed within a month by the manufacturer or the service provider, you can officially file a complaint against them at www.core.nic.in. You can also seek help from voluntary organisations like the Consumer Guidance Society of India, the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, etc.
If your problem is left unsolved even after approaching these parties, don’t worry. There are exclusive consumer forums in all states and districts which have legal authority over these matters. However, if these forums are unable to get you justice, you can move on to the consumer court.
Products and services which are provided for free do not come under these rights, since you have not paid for them. Also, personal services, like your maid, are excluded from the consumer laws.