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Consumer Rights

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 guarantees six basic rights to the consumers. It is crucial that, as a consumer, everyone should be aware of these basic rights and exercise them while purchasing any product or service. The six consumer rights are detailed below:

Every consumer has the right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property. This means that the goods purchased and services availed of should not only meet the immediate needs of consumers, but also fulfil their long-term interests. It covers all domains that can have a serious effect on the health or well-being of the consumers, like automobiles, housing, domestic appliances, travel, pharmaceuticals and food processing.

This right calls for each product, which can potentially be a danger to our lives, to be marketed after adequate and complete verification as well as validation. The Government of India needs to have world class product testing facilities to test drugs, food, cars and other such consumable products.

Consumers, on their part, should insist on good quality as well as guarantee of the products and services. They should preferably purchase quality marked products such as ISI, AGMARK, etc.

Every consumer has the right to be fully informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect them against unfair trade practices. While this right lays down that consumers should have easy access to all such relevant information, in reality, they hardly have precise and complete information for assessing the true value, safety, suitability, reliability or performance of any product. Usually, the hidden costs, lack of suitability, quality problems and safety hazards come to light only after the purchase.

Consumers should insist on getting all the information about a product or service before making a choice or decision. This will enable them to act wisely and responsibly. It will also protect them from falling prey to high-pressure selling techniques.

Every consumer has the right to access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices, wherever possible. In case of monopolies, it means right to be assured of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price.

It also includes the right to basic goods and services. This is because unrestricted right of the minority to choose can mean a denial for the majority of its fair share. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices.

Every consumer has the right that his/her interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. It also includes the right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer’s welfare. This empowers the consumers to fearlessly put forward their complaints and concerns, raise their voice against products or even companies and ensure that their issues are taken into consideration as well as handled expeditiously.

The consumers should form non-political and non-commercial consumer organisations which can be given representation in various committees formed by the Government and other bodies in matters relating to the consumers.

Every consumer has the right to seek redressal against unfair/restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation. It also includes the right to get a fair settlement in case of genuine consumer grievances.

Consumers must make a complaint when their consumer rights have been infringed. Many a times, the complaint may be of small value, but its impact on the society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of consumer organisations in seeking redressal of their grievances.

Every consumer has the right to be made aware of his/her rights and how to exercise them. This means they should be able to acquire the knowledge and skills to be an informed consumer throughout life. Ignorance of consumers, particularly rural consumers, is the primary reason for their exploitation. They should know their rights and must exercise them. Only then can real consumer protection be achieved.