As a result of economic reforms and increased foreign investments, “Consumerism” is dominating the Indian market in today’s age. Market has changed from Caveat Emptor (Let the buyer beware) to Caveat Venditor (Let the seller beware) and the choice exercised by the consumer will be influenced by the level of consumer awareness achieved. As big multinationals are doing everything to capture the market there is an active need for having awareness on the consumer protection rights. The reason being some of the companies try to engage in unscrupulous, exploitative and unfair trade practices like defective and unsafe products, adulteration, false and misleading advertising, hoarding, black-marketing etc. By “consumerism” we also mean the process of realising the rights of the consumer as envisaged in the Consumer Protection Act (1986) viz. right to safety, right to be informed, right to choose, right to be heard, right to redress, right to consumer education, right to satisfaction of basic needs and ensuring right standards for the goods and services for which one makes a payment.
Need for consumer protection act
The Indian consumers want quantity not quality, they prefer to compromise rather than complain. It is usual that goods are sold above MRP which is against law and this is predominantly visible at railway stations. Also many goods are sold in the market without much information about their quality, quantity and purity. In case of goods meant for mass consumption like, food, milk products, edible oil etc. the ingredients are not known. Manufacturers or producers seldom follow the safety regulations in the products like, lamps, batteries, footwear, electrical equipments, wires, cement, LPG cylinders, stoves, switches, plugs, sockets etc. leading to many fatal accidents. Adulteration of food is another major problem, few examples of which are given in following table:
|Food Item||Adulterated by|
|Milk||Detergent, Refined oil, Urea etc.|
|Arhar Dal||Yellow Colour|
|Mustard Oil||Engine oil, Argemone oil|
|Vegetables, fruits||Artificial Colour|
The big multinational companies make a huge profit from whatever they sell; they try to gain the attention of an average consumer through catchy slogans and advertisements. Sometimes the sellers offers unrealistic schemes on anything ranging from soap to a two-wheeler or a computer, the consumer is deceived by these schemes offered by the manufacturers, who spend crores of rupees on their branding and advertising efforts. The poor consumer, who is caught-up in ‘buy-one, get one schemes’ hardly finds time to apply his mind that it is he who pays everything, even for those so-called free-gifts that are used as marketing tools.
The tragic part of all this is that at the time of purchasing the goods, the consumer is never shown the clauses of warranty, written in the microscopic fonts, with so many “conditions apply” mentioned in the foot-notes of these documents hidden somewhere in ‘owner’s manual’. The consumer gets this owner’s manual only after he makes the payment of the product he intends to purchase. A closer look at such ‘warranties’ makes one to ponder upon the fraud most of the companies commit with a consumer. For instance, a look at the warranty card provided with any electric or electronic goods item, including television sets, DVDs, computers etc reads “In the event of damage on account of high or low voltage, fluctuation in current, lightening etc, the warranty is automatically null and void”. Is it just to deceive the Indian consumer who simply purchases the goods thinking that the same can be repaired or replaced within the warranty period while remaining ignorant of the basic difference between ‘guarantee’ and ‘warranty’.Category: Articles