Consumers over the world want the value of the money they spent in form of better services and quality of goods. Even after modern technological developments which enhance the quality, safety, and availability of goods and services, the consumers continue to be victims of dishonest practices such as poor quality and high prices of goods, a mixture of hazardous chemicals with the eatables, adulteration of food, etc. ‘Customer is King’ is now nothing more than a theory. Therefore, customer protection is seen as a major step to be taken by the government to satisfy the customer and protect them from unscrupulous acts.
Consumer rights are the rights given to the consumers to protect him/her from being cheated by the manufacturer or the salesman.
The Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1986 and came into force from 1st July 1987 aiming protection of consumers and availing safeguards against different types of exploitation.
FEATURES OF THE ACT
- It covers all public, private and cooperative sectors.
- Provides for the establishment of consumer protection counsels at district, state, and central levels.
- Applies to all goods, services, and unfair trade practices unless specifically exempted by the Central Government.
- Provides Recognition to Six rights of consumers.
FACTORS OF FORMATION OF CPA, 1986
- The increasing size of production and distribution systems.
- Rising technologies leading to an increasing variety of goods and services.
- High level of sophistication in marketing.
- Consumers increasing mobility.
SIX BASIC CONSUMER RIGHTS
- Right to safety – Consumers are protected against the marketing of goods and services that are hazardous to their life and property.
- Right to be informed – Consumers have the right to be informed of the quality, quantity, content, purity, and price of goods.
- Right to choose – Customers should be given a variety of goods and services at different prices to choose upon.
- Right to be heard – Customers interest
- should be taken into account. No seller can influence the choice in an unfair manner.
- Right to seek redressal – Customer has the right to seek remedy against the unfair practice.
- Right to consumer education– Consumer has the right to acquire knowledge regarding his/her rights.
OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF CPA ACT
Who can file a complaint – A consumer to whom goods and services are sold or delivered or agreed to be sold or delivered, a voluntary consumer organization, Central Government, State Government or Union territory administration
Relief available to Consumers
- Removal of defect from the good
- Replacement of the good
- Refund of the Price paid
- Compensation for loss or injury suffered
- Discontinue unfair trade practice
- Not to offer hazardous good for sale
- To withdraw hazardous good from sale
- To issue corrective advertisement
- To provide adequate costs to parties
- To cease the manufacture of hazardous goods
The Consumer Protection Act has been recently amended in 2019 with new features and rights.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW ACT
- E-commerce transactions – The act widened the definition of consumers i.e. it now includes any person who buys any good through an offline or online transaction, teleshopping, or multi-level marketing.
- Product liability – the concept of product liability has been introduced within its scope, the product service provider, the product manufacturer, and product seller for any claim for compensation.
- Penalty for misleading advertisements – A penalty of INR 1,000,000 may be imposed on a manufacturer or endorser for false misleading advertisements. They may also be punished with an imprisonment of two years for the same. In case of repeated offense, the fine may extend to INR 5,000,000 and imprisonment may extend to five years.
- Unfair trade practices – Unfair trade practices include sharing the personal information of the customer unless such disclosure is made in accordance with the law.
- Provision of alternation dispute resolution – Provides for mediation as an alternate dispute resolution for making the process simpler.
NEW RIGHTS UNDER CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT, 2019
- Right to file a complaint from anywhere
- Right to seek compensation under product liability
- Right to know why a complaint was rejected
- Right to protect the consumer as a class
- Right to seek a hearing using video conferencing
Everyone is a buyer or a seller in this world. Even the manufacturers and sellers are buyers of some type of goods and services. Efficient and effective consumer protection programs are important for each one of us as all of us are consumers. It is even more important to make amendments in these existing laws because with the moving phase of time and technological developments it laws to has to be modified according to the need. As a responsible consumer, it is vital to know about one’s right to be protected from the exploitation and corruption in goods and services.
This article is authored by Gayathri Rajagopal, 2nd-year student of B.A. LL.B at FITM, IP University.
Also Read – How to File a Case in Consumer Court?