In the earlier times, the market had a very different picture from what it has today. The famous Latin saying “Caveat Emptor” which means “let the buyer beware” was relevant in the earlier decades. This meant the buyer alone was responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made. The consumer in the backward society had to face a lot of harassment and forgery during the purchase of goods and services. Low quality or quantity of goods, surcharges, Overpricing, irrelevant taxes, and the list can go on and on.
The modern century has seen a significant improvement in practices of the sellers which has brought a considerable change of practices in the market. Today the consumer is referred to as ‘GOD’. Every seller in the market is indulged in a rat race to impress the consumer. Unlike yester years, today there is no discrimination between the rich and the middle class in the eyes of the seller, anyone who comes to or even crosses an outlet is almost dragged into the store to just have one look at the products.
Today the government has made sure that the common man is not exploited in the market and is educated enough about the basic consumer rights when he heads out to buy a commodity. It is the right of the consumer to be well informed and educated to deal with any unfair practices and ask for a redressal for their grievances.
To maintain a balance between the buyer and the seller and to make sure that fair practices take place in the market the government had issued the ‘CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT’ in 1986, which was finally renewed with a new ‘COSUMER PROTECTION BILL’ on 6th August 2019 keeping in mind and to address the new set challenges for the consumers in the age of digitalization.
Today we discuss what our rights as consumers and why is this Bill so important from the perspectives of both the buyer and the seller.
Let us first discuss what the duties of the consumer: -
· Keep a close watch on common warnings and signs.
· Keep your personal information confidential.
· Keep a tab on your financial statements and credit reports.
· Destroy or shred documents which are not required anymore but has valuable personal information.
· Change your passwords and PINs frequently to avoid falling in a trap.
· Keep a close watch on any unusual deductions from your debit/credit card.
· Talk and spread more awareness about consumer protection and common frauds to people you know.
· Report it immediately, if you have become a victim of fraud as it will help the authorities to take quick action in vital time.
Now we’ll discuss the importance of consumer protection from the point of view of Sellers: -
1. GOODWILL- The most important thing for a business is maintaining a name for itself in the market. If the seller wants to exist in the market and increase his consumer base, then it is of utmost importance that top priority is given to the consumer.
2. LEGAL RESTRICTIONS- When planning a business model, a business must design their model and practices in a way that it follows all legal procedures and practice fair trade to avoid government intervention in the business because it will hamper the functioning, reputation and existence of the business.
3. MORAL VALUES- Every business has some ethics and moral values that it must follow to exist and maintain a goodwill in the society. A business identifies itself in the market with the name it has earned by practicing a fair trade in the market and maintaining it is a bigger task than earning it in the first place.
4. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – A business uses resources from the society to perform on a regular basis, thus giving it back to the society is the social responsibility of every business. Any sort of unfair practices, unfair pricing and adulteration must be avoided to flourish in the market.
We know that consumer protection is not a one-way practice. The consumer must be diligent while making purchases and should be aware about all the rights he/she is entitled to. In case of the seller, the seller must avoid any unfair trading practices and exploitation of the consumer. So, we have listed the general consumer rights in India below for all our consumers: -
(Source – JAGOGRAHAKJAGO.com)
· The right to be protected from all kind of hazardous goods and services
· The right to be fully informed about the performance and quality of all goods and services
· The right to free choice of goods and services
· The right to be heard in all decision-making processes related to consumer interests
· The right to seek redressal, whenever consumer rights have been infringed
· The right to complete consumer education
If any infringements of the above-mentioned rights are found, then the consumer has the right to file a complaint under the following circumstances in the designated consumer court: - (source – JAGOGRAHAKJAGO.com)
· The goods or services purchased by a person or agreed to be purchased by a person has one or more defects or deficiencies in any respect
· A trader or a service provider resort to unfair or restrictive practices of trade
· A trader or a service provider if charges a price more than the price displayed on the goods or the price that was agreed upon between the parties or the price that was stipulated under any law that exist
· Goods or services that bring a hazard to the safety or life of a person offered for sale, unknowingly or knowingly, that cause injury to health, safety or life.
There is so much we neglect daily when it comes to ethics and responsibility. We have become so busy with our own concerns that our own responsibilities have stopped bothering us. All of us some social responsibility towards the society and the future generations. If we keep exploiting our resources for our own selfish needs, then soon there will no order in the society and it will give birth to Chaos.
Consumer Protection act maintains the order and balance between the consumer and the seller so that ethics does not lose its path and we all need to realize that without this ‘ACT’ this whole industry could lose itself to a mayhem.
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