6 BASIC CONSUMER RIGHTS THAT EVERYONE MUST KNOW
RIGHT TO INFORMATION
This right is meant to protect consumers against unfair trade practices. But there are many consumer goods in India that do not follow the standardized labeling convention.
Take medicines for example. The pharmaceuticals are required to disclose potential side effects of their drugs and manufacturers should publish reports from independent product testing laboratories in order to facilitate a comparative analysis with the competitive product. But there is no such thing in practice.
A consumer has the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services.
RIGHT TO CHOOSE
It is a consumers right to be assured to have access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.
What most of us don’t know is that a consumer can even bargain on the MPR.
MRP is not a government fixed price and can be bargained upon since actual selling price could be lower, depending on local taxes and transport costs.
RIGHT TO SAFETY
The main application of this right is in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals and food processing sector as these have direct impact on health. It aims to protect consumers against immoral practices by doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and the automobile industry. But in the absence of world-class product testing facilities in our country the right can, well, be termed as toothless
Consumers have the right to be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property.
RIGHT TO BE HEARD
Although consumer courts are there to hear and resolve the complaints of a consumer, we still lack a substantial outlet where consumers can voice out their opinion. Having said that, there are many websites which aim to make sure that the voice of customers reach the corporate world. These websites let customers upload their grievances and file complaints. Every grievance filed gradually lessens the overall score of the product being criticized.
If the new bill seeking to amend the present law is passed, a Central Consumer Protection Authority with investigative powers will be set up.
Every consumer has a right to be heard and to be assured that his / her interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums.
RIGHT TO REDRESSAL
There are consumer courts at district, state and national level for redressal of disputes. But these courts have immense scope of improvement. Apart from the infrastructure constraint, the number of officials required are way less than deployed.
There are around 20-30 million open cases in India which remain unsolved and would take around 320 years to wind up.
Consumers have the rights to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictives trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation.
RIGHT TO CONSUMER EDUCATION
This right ensures that proper informational programs are in place that are easily accessible and help consumers make purchasing decisions. However, since most of the initiatives are taken by NGOs in India, there’s a need for the government to step up its participation.
It is the right of every Indian citizen to have education on matters regarding consumer protection as well as about her / his right.