Consumer Protection

Consumer protection refers to protecting the consumer against unscrupulous and exploitative trade practices of manufacturers and sellers and educating consumers about their rights and responsibilities. The reasons behind the need of consumer protection are:
•    unorganized consumers,
•    illiteracy and ignorance,
•    deceptive advertising,
•    malpractice of businessmen and
•    production of duplicate products.

Consumer protection important from consumer’s point of view are consumer ignorance, unorganised consumers and widespread exploitation of consumers like supplying defective and unsafe products, adulteration etc.
From business point of view consumer protection is necessary for reasons::
•    long-term interest of business,
•    public image, use of social resources,
•    moral/ ethical justification,
•    social responsibility and
•    government intervention.
Some of the important acts providing legal protection to consumers are Consumer Protection Act 1986, Sales of Goods Act 1930, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954, Essential Commodities Act 1955, Contract Act, 1982, Competition Act 2002 and The Bureau of Indian Standards Act 1986 etc.
The consumer protection act has provided certain rights to consumers:
•    Right to safety,
•    Right to be informed,
•    Right to Choose.
•    Right to be Heard,
•    Right to Seek Redressal and
•    Right to Consumer education, etc.
Redressal agencies under the consumer protection act provides setting up of a three tier enforcement machinery at the District level, State and National level called  District Forum, State Commission and National Commission respectively. Complaints to be files on these forums depend upon the aggregate value of the goods or services complaints against and the compensation claimed. On being satisfied about the complaints, the appropriate consumer court may pass an order for the removal of defects in goods, replacement of defective product, refunding the price of the product and payment of appropriate compensation. NGOs engaged in consumer protection are Consumer Coordination Council Delhi, Voluntary organisation in interest of consumer education (Voice) Delhi, Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) Mumbai, CPC Ahmadabad, and Consumer Association Kolkata etc.

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  • Q1

    What complaints can be filed by a consumer?


    A consumer can file a complaint relating to any one or more of the following:

    (a) An unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice adopted by any trader or service provider;

    (b) Goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him suffer from one or more defect;

    (c) Services hired or availed of, or agreed to be hired or availed of, suffer from deficiency in any respect;

    (d) Goods or services which are hazardous or likely to be hazardous to life and safety when used.

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  • Q2

    Define consumer under Consumer Protection Act, 1986.


    Under Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a consumer is defined to mean :
    (a) one who buys goods or hires services for consideration,
    (b) any user of such goods with the approval of the buyer and beneficiary of services which is availed of with the approval of one who hires the services, and
    (c) anyone who uses goods bought or services hired exclusively for earning livelihood by self-employment.

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  • Q3

    Shyama has gone to the electrical shop nearby to purchase a 2.5 ton window AC. What are the points that a consumer should keep in mind while purchasing, using, consuming goods and services?


    A consumer should keep in mind the following responsibilities while purchasing, using and consuming goods and services.

    1. TO be aware about various goods and services available in the market so that an intelligent and wise choice can be made.
    2. To buy only standardised goods as they provide quality assurance. Thus, look for ISI mark on electrical goods, FPO mark on food products, Hallmark on jewelry etc.
    3. To learn about the risks associated with products and services, follow manufacturer’s instructions and use the products safely.
    4. To read labels carefully so as to have information about prices, net weight, manufacturing and expiry dates, etc.
    5. To assert yourself to ensure that you get a fair deal.
    6. To be honest in the dealings and choose only from legal goods and services and discourage unscrupulous practices like black – marketing, hoarding etc.
    7. To ask for a cash memo on purchase of goods or services. This would serve as a proof of the purchase made
    8. To file a complaint in an appropriate consumer forum in case of a shortcoming in the quality of goods purchased or services availed. To take action even when the amount involved is small.
    9. To form consumer societies which would play an active part in educating consumers and safeguarding their interests.
    10. To respect the environment. To avoid waste, littering and contributing to pollution.

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  • Q4

    State the ways in which Government can protect the rights of the consumers.


    The government can protect the interests of the consumers

    by enacting various legislations. The legal framework in India encompasses various legislations which provide protection to consumers. The most important of these regulations is the

    Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Act provides for a three-tier machinery at the district, state and national levels for redressal of consumer grievances.

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  • Q5

    Maken & Co, a partnership firm, has bought a computer for office use, which turned out to be defective. The manufacturer refused to replace the computer. Can the partnership firm file a case against the manufacturer? Who can file a case under Consumer Protection Act?


    Yes, the partnership firm- Maken & Co can file a case against the manufacturer.

    The following persons can file a complaint under Consumer Protection Act, 1986:

    1. A consumer;

    2. Any recognised voluntary consumer association whether the consumer is a member of that association or not;

    3. The Central or any State Government;

    4. One or more consumers, on behalf of numerous consumers having common interest.

    5. Legal heir or representative in case of death of a consumer.

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