Answer in brief.
1) Explain any four needs of consumer protection.
In the modern competitive market, the consumer is regarded as the ‘King of Market’ hence consumer protection is required due to the following reasons:
The need for participation of consumers:
It is noted that business organizations make decisions that affect consumers’ interest without consulting the consumer or their organizations.
Only a strong consumer organization can pressurize business organizations to allow consumer participation in the decision-making process.
Lack of information:
It is very difficult to establish direct contact between consumers and manufacturers because consumers live in a dynamic and complex world and they are widely scattered. Today’s markets are full of domestic as well as imported products therefore it is very difficult to get correct and reliable information about the product before they purchase.
Ignorance: The ignorance of consumers is the main cause of exploitation by the business. Consumers in India are mostly ignorant about their rights, market conditions, price levels, and product details. A system is required to protect them from business malpractices.
Unorganized Consumers: Consumers are widely scattered and are not organized, On the other hand, sellers are in a better position than consumers and they are powerful. Consumers are under the influence of businessmen. An individual consumer cannot fight against these powerful sellers.
Spurious Goods: There is an increasing supply of duplicate products. It is not possible for an ordinary consumer to distinguish between a genuine product and its imitation. It is necessary to protect consumers from such exploitation by ensuring compliance with prescribed norms of quality and safety standards.
Misleading Advertising: Some businessmen give misleading information about the quality, safety, and utility of products. Consumers are misled by misleading advertisements and do not know the real quality of advertised goods. A mechanism is needed to prevent misleading advertisements.
Malpractices of Businessmen: Fraudulent, unethical, and monopolistic trade practices by businessmen lead to the exploitation of consumers. Many times consumers get defective, inferior, and substandard goods and services. Certain measures are required to protect consumers against such malpractices.
Trusteeship: According to Gandhi, philosophy businessmen are trustees of the society’s wealth. Therefore, they should use this wealth for the benefit of people.
2) State any four rights of the consumer.
Ans : Some of the rights of consumers are as follows:
Right to Safety: This right protects consumers against products, production processes, and services which are hazardous to health or life. It includes concern for consumer’s long-term interests as well as their immediate requirements. According to this right, the consumer must get full safety and protection to his life and health.
Right to Information: According to this right, a consumer should be provided with adequate information about all aspects of goods and services like price, name of the manufacturer, contents used, batch number if any, date of manufacture and expiry date, user manual, and safety instruction, etc. This right also enables the consumer to select the right product or service.
Right to Choose: According to this right, a consumer should be given full freedom to select an article as per his requirement, liking, and purchasing capacity. The right to choose is related to the concept of a free-market economy. As per this right, the seller can not compel the consumer to buy a particular product and hence monopoly is prevented.
Right to be heard: Every business organization should listen and solve the complaints of consumers. According to this right, consumers have the opportunity to voice their complaints to the consumer forum. Consumers also give suggestions to manufacturers or traders on certain matters such as quality, quantity, price, packaging, etc. Nowadays, consumers can file online complaints through the portal or mobile applications.
Right to Consumer Education: Every consumer has the right to know about consumer rights and solutions to their problems. This right creates consumer awareness. An aware consumer can make a rational choice of goods and services and protect his rights and interests from the exploitation of unscrupulous businessmen. Thus, consumer education becomes a priority concern.
Right to Represent: The act provides an opportunity for individuals and consumer groups to represent consumer’s interests before the consumer forum. The act allows the consumer to be represented by a person who is not a professional advocate. This provision is in recognition of the consumer’s right to represent.
Right to Redress: This right enables the consumer to demand repair or replacement or compensation for defective products and for poor services. According to the consumer protection Act, three-tier quasi-judicial consumer dispute redressal machinery is established for the settlement of claims such as the District Commission at the District level, State Commission at the state level, and National
Commission at the national level. Consumers are protected from business malpractices.
Right to Healthy Environment: All consumers have a right to a healthy and clean environment.
According to this right, the consumer can demand actions against the pollution causing business organizations. All consumers have the right to a healthy and clean environment in the present and future.
Right to Protect from unfair business practices: As per this right, all consumers are protected against unfair business practices such as black marketing, profiteering, faulty weights and measures, exorbitant prices, adulteration, etc.
Right against spurious goods: This right is against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health, spurious, and pose a danger to life itself.
3) Explain any four responsibilities of the consumer.
Ans : Consumers should exercise their rights and responsibilities while purchasing products or services. These are as follows:
The consumer should use his rights: Consumers have many rights with regard to the goods and services. They must be aware of their rights while buying.
Cautious consumer: The consumers should understand their responsibilities while buying goods and services. While buying, the consumer should enquire about the quality, quantity, price, utility of goods and services, etc.
Filing of complaint: It is the responsibility of a consumer to approach the officer concerned if consumers have some complaints about the goods and services. A delay in the complaint may result in the expiry of guarantee or warranty.
Quality conscious: The consumers should never compromise on the quality of goods. They should not buy inferior stuff out of greed for less prices. If consumers behave like this, there cannot be any protection for them from any sector. It is also the responsibility of consumers to buy quality goods. The symbols such as ISI, AGMARK, Hallmark, FPO, FASSI, etc. are indicative of the good quality of the goods.
Beware from exaggerating advertisement: The seller informs the consumer about their goods and services through advertisement. Usually, the sellers exaggerate the quality of their goods in advertisements. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the consumers to identify the truth of advertisement.
The demand for Invoice and Guarantee, Warrantee Card: Consumers should always ask for an invoice for the goods purchased. It is the responsibility of the consumer to check the details mentioned on the guarantee or warranty card. If the goods purchased are of inferior quality, these documents are useful to settle all kinds of disputes with the seller.
Pre-planned buying: The important responsibility of consumers is that they should not buy in hurry. It means that the consumers should make an estimate of the goods they want to buy along with their quantity required. They should also take into consideration the place where to buy things.
Organized Efforts: Consumers should undertake responsibility for the protection of their rights and safeguarding their interests. Consumers can work for and support consumer protection associations for consumer welfare.
4) State the role of NGOs and consumer protection.
Ans : The main aim of these NGOs is to study the trend of prices in the market and publish them for the information of consumers and to agitate against the malpractices of traders.
Role of Consumer organizations & NGOs in Consumer protection and Education:
To organize campaigns and various programs on consumer issues to create social awareness.
To organize training programs for the consumers and make them conscious of their rights and modes of redressal of their grievances.
To publish periodicals to enlighten the consumers about various consumer-related developments.
To provide free legal advice to members on matters of consumer interest and help them to take up grievances.
To interact with businessmen and Chambers of Commerce and Industry for ensuring a better deal for consumers.
To file Public Interest Litigation on important consumer issues, such as a ban on a product injurious to public health.