Consumer awareness Consumer awareness is about making the consumer aware of his/her rights.
It is a marketing term which means that consumers are aware of products or services, its characteristics and the other marketing P¶s (place to buy, price, and promotion).The consumers have to be aware not only of the commercial aspects of sale and purchase of goods, but also of the health and security aspects. Food safety has become an important element of consumer awareness these days. In case of food products, its quality depends not only on its nutritional value, but also on its safety for human consumption. Consumption of contaminated or adulterated food is a major cause of human illness and suffering. Start of consumer awareness Though the first consumer movement began in England after the Second World War, a modern declaration about consumer¶s rights was first made in the United States of America in 1962, where four basic consumer rights (choice, information, safety and to be heard ) were recognized. Ralph Nadar, a consumer activist, is considered as the father of µconsumer movement¶. March 15 is now celebrated as the World Consumer Rights Day. The United Nations in 1985 adopted, , certain guidelines to achieve the objectives of maintaining protection for consumers and to establish high level ethical conduct for those engaged in production and distribution of goods and services. In India, the concept of consumer protection is not new. References to the protection of consumer¶s interest against exploitation by trade and industry, underweight and measurement, adulteration and punishment for these offences, were made in Kautilya¶s µArthashastra¶. However, an organized and systematic movement to safeguard the interest of consumers, is a recent phenomenon
Need for consumer awareness Anyone who consumes goods is a consumer. Consumers get exploited in the market. They respond to advertisements and buy goods. Generally advertisements do not give all the information that a consumer needs to know or wants to know about a product. The need for empowerment of consumers as a class cannot be over emphasized and is already well recognized all over the world. The advancement of technology and advent of sophisticated gadgets in the market and aggressive marketing strategies in the era of globalization have not only thrown open a wide choice, for the consumer but all the same also rendered the consumer vulnerable to a plethora of problems concomitant to
fraudulence trade practices so for and it is time to tame this evil which spoils the society. The awareness is much needed to day as we pay for the products from our hard earned money and we should get its worth. and also the possible deficiencies in the services of the growing sector of public utilities. producers. In short. where there is wide spread illiteracy Consumer Awareness is most vital to society and a way to eliminate malpractices by the manufacturers. the Government of India and State Government have initiated steps to introduce dispute redressal mechanism by way of Consumer Protection Ac. He should be equipped to be vigilant with a discerning eye so as to be able to protect himself from any wrongful act on the part of the trader. and marketers. We have been all along mute spectators to those malpractices. which he can access without much effort and expense. services reaches the consumers & keep the service providers as well as manufacturers. agony and strive for a transparent method of essential commodities. there is every need not only to evolve legal remedies but also provide reliable and exhaustive information. This becomes more important in the rural areas. Recognizing the importance of the problem. There is an urgent and increasing necessity to educate and motivate the consumer to be wary of the quality of the products. marketers at bay. In order to be able to position the consumer in such a state. Corruptions at all stages let those traders to go Scot free and unpunished.
exploitationof consumers is done in various form like 1. but a lot more has to be done in the area of creating awareness on the part of the consumer to facilitate his seeking suitable remedy wherever there is a need. Hence the need of the consumer awareness and legal remedies through consumer courts to help the society s welfare. the consumer should be empowered with respect to his rights as a consumer. The heartening part of present day consumer courts to uphold the grievances. Under weight and under measurements ±not measured or weighed correctly 2.such rapid changes. Substandard Quality ±defective home appliances and medicines beyond expiry date
Rough behaviour and Undue conditions²harassment in getting LPG connection or a telephone connection. High prices²charging above the retail price 4. and terms of purchase all must be given to the consumer 2. 10. Lack of information is another cause.Monopoly is also a cause of consumer exploitation. quantity. Price.
Factors causing exploitation of Consumers. and safety. the consumer is more vulnerable. 1. Artifical Scarcity²hoarding and black marketing 8. False and Incomplete Information²misleading information on quality. durability. Lack of safety Devices²absence of inbuilt safeguardsin appliances 7. The seller may take advantage of the freedom of the market and keep away. Unsatisfactory after sales Service²high cost items like eletronics and cars require constant and regular service. 9. conditions of use. Limited Competition. Adulteration and Impurity²is done to get higher profits 6. This is all the more so in case of essential commodities like life saving drugs and food
. In market where only one or few producers or sellers operate. Limited Supplies² when goods and services are in short supply then price shoots up 3. Limited Information² providing full and correct information will help in the choice. Duplicate Articles²selling fake items in the name of the original 5. composition.² single producer may manipulate the market in terms of price and stocks.. important or correct information from the consumer.3.
Covers all the sectors whether private.Hence Consumer Awareness is essential.
Consumer protection Measure 1. The provision of the Act came into force.There are many factors of causing exploitation of the consumer. representation and redress and consumer education. An illiterate consumer can be cheated easily as she can neither read the name of the product nor the instructions. public or cooperative. The salient features of the Act are as follows: Applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted by the Union Government. Illiteracy is one of the causes. The consumer in such areas is charged with high price. 1987.
. Enactment of Consumer Protection Act. choice. State and District levels were set up. Low Literacy. With the help of this law the agencies can solve grievances in a speedy.² illiteracy leads to exploitation. 1986 was one of the most important steps taken to protect the interests of consumers. Illiteracy also affects the level of consumer awareness.items.
. A separate department of consumer affairs was set up at the state and central government. The Consumer Protection Act 1986 provides for consumer disputes redressal at the state and national level. simple and inexpensive manner. 4. Enshrines the consumer¶s rights related to safety. These agencies have done good work by handling lakhs of cases. with effect from July 1. given a low quality and his/her problems are not taken seriously. The act recognizes consumer¶s right to seek redresses and right to consumer education. Legislation concerning Consumer Rights. information. A three tier system of consumer courts at the National.
slides. This caters to industrial and consumer goods. 3. pamphlets. 4. 5. Standardisation of Products. Publish periodical and product specific booklets. highlighting the problem in specified areas like real estate. 6.
To protect the poor from price rise and black marketing the government food security to the poor by supplying essentials through the ration or Fair price shops. At the International level the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) located in Geneva sets common standards. The FAO and WHO provide food standards. Agmark is meant for Agricultural products. 7. cassettes. The ISI stamp on goods is placed by the Bureau of Indian standards. These are done to assure the quality of products. non-banking financial agencies etc. Enlighten the business community on its ethical and legal obligations to maintain quality of the products or services and to be transparent in dealing with consumers. These goods can be trusted to confirm to specific standards. Promote General Awareness of the rights of the consumer by encouraging consumer education and supplying information. 2. public utilities. The act gives consumers an additional remedy besides those which may be available to them under the provisions of other existing laws and they are free to choose the remedy. documentary films and other devices of mass communication for promoting consumer awareness in English and regional languages. CDs. Encourage consumer activities to strengthen the existing institutional set up of consumer dispute redressal by acting as a facilitator between consumer and the institution. Empower consumers seeking discontinuance of certain unfair and restrictive trade practices. Public Distribution System.
. defects or deficiencies in services and stopping in services or withdrawal of hazardous goods from the market.
11 Coordinate programmes organized by Central and State Governments. Study the available legal remedies. 10. food processing and pharmaceuticals. this right spans across any domain that could have a serious impact on the consumers¶ health or well
. traders and policy makers to exchange information of mutual interest for better coordination. 9. Consumer affairs. As stated in the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Organize and conduct seminars. 13. Food & Civil Supplies Dept. analyze and suggest new measures for the effective and better consumer protection. State Legal Aid Authorities. Establish links with educational institutions like universities. Specifically significant in areas such as healthcare. Academic Institutes. ASCI etc. Bring together the consumer. to explore possible collaboration and organize awareness programmes for their clientele and undertake research projects. National and International Consumer Organizations.8. high schools to emphasize the need for improving consumer education in the curriculum. NIRD. Consumer clubs which were started recently by the A. this consumer right is defined as the µright to be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property¶. Right to Safety²to protect against hazardous goods. would go a long way in acheiving this. 14. Interact with national level organizations like NISIET. Periodic interaction with electronic & print media on success stories of consumers. colleges. 12.
Rights and Duties of Consumers As codified under the Indian Laws the Consumers have the following Rights 1. Bring together the NGO¶s/Consumer activities operating in different areas and equip them with suitable and required nformation and knowledge to enable them to act as nodal agents of change in rural areas. workshops and group discussions and thus provide a platform for threadbare discussion of the issues and evolve suitable remedial action.P. Conduct motivational campaigns for groups of potential customers both in urban and rural areas.
For benefit to the society from this right. yet unreliable means. quantity. quality. Unit price publishing standards need to be established for consumer market places where costs are shown in standard units such as per kilogram.beingsuch as Automobiles. Right to be Informed²about price. potency. safety hazards and quality problems only after we have purchased the product. Due to this. advertisers should be held against the product standards in the advertisements. Every year. purity. purity.
. pharmacies and the automobile industry. This consumer right is defined as the µthe right to be informed about the quality. millions of Indian citizens are killed or severely hurt by unscrupulous practices by hospitals. standard and price of goods or services. doctors. In the Indian market place. lack of suitability. pharmaceuticals need to disclose potential side effects about their drugs. just to name a few. quantity. namely advertising and word of mouth. as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices¶ in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. Another right again trumpeted by our government on paper. this right should ideally ensure that all consumable products are labeled in a standard manner which contains the cost. Travel. 2. the consumers in India seldom have accurate and complete information to assess the true value. and manufacturers should be required to publish reports from independent product testing laboratories regarding the comparison of the quality of their products with competitive products. as consumers. and instructions on how to safely consume the product. Mostly we find out hidden costs. it is estimated that thousands. the ingredients. suitability. consumers get consumer information through two popular. Violation of this right is almost always the cause of medical malpractice lawsuits in India. Domestic Appliances. Unfortunately. should be informed in a precise yet accurate manner of the costs involved when availing a loan. if not. or per liter. safety or reliability of any product. Housing etc. even the medicines in India do not follow a standard labeling convention. We.
Right to be Heard²consumers interest and welfare must be taken care of. wherever possible. invariably.
. Each of these consumer grievance redressal agencies has fiduciary and geographical jurisdictions to address consumer cases between consumers and businesses. Consumer courts such as District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums at the district level. Competition. Right to seek Redressal²protection against unfair trade practicesand settling genuine grievances. is the best regulator of a market place. µthe right to be heard and to be assured that consumer's interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums¶ is referred to as the right to be heard. Existence of oligopolies. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions have been established through the consumer protection act. Consumer Protection Act 1986 defines this right as µthe right to be assured. between 20 lakhs and one crore are heard in the state consumer court and cases more than one crore are heard in the national consumer court.3. According to the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Right to Choose²access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. to have access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices¶. 5. 4. This right is supposed to empower Indian consumers to fearlessly voice their complaints and concerns against products and companies to ensure their issues are handled efficiently and expeditiously. Consumer cases less than 20 lakhs are heard in the district consumer forum. The Indian Government has been slightly more successful with respect to this right. cartels and monopolies are counterproductive to consumerism. The right µto seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers¶ is defined as the right to redressal in the Consumer Protection Act 1986.
Form consumer awareness groups 4. Critical Awareness The responsibility to be more alert and questioning about the price and quality of goods and services we consume. 8. primarily undertake the ardent task of ensuring this consumer right around the country.
.6. 7. Consumer education may mean both formal education through school and college curriculums and also consumer awareness campaigns run by both governmental and non governmental agencies (NGO). Duties 1. Make a complaint on genuine grievances. Consumer NGOs. with little support from the Indian government. 6. 5. Action The responsibility to assert ourselves by acting to ensure that we get a fair deal As long as we remain passive consumers we will continue to be exploited and manipulated. Check the ISI mark or Agmark on the goods 3. This right simply ensures that the consumers in India have access to informational programs and materials that would enable them to make better purchasing decisions.²Kowledge about goods and issues related to consumers. Get a bill for every important purchase and also the Warranty card 2. Environmental Awareness The responsibility to realize the environmental costs and consequences of our consumption patterns and lifestyles. Consumers must know to exercise their rights. The right of each Indian citizen to be educated on matters related to consumer protection and about his/her rights is the last right given by the Consumer Protection Act 1986. Right to Consumer Education. Social Concern The responsibility to consider the impacts of our consumption patterns and lifestyles on other citizens especially the poor disadvantaged or powerless consumers whether they be in the local national or international community. 9. We should recognize our individual and collective social responsibility to conserve natural resources and to preserve earth for present and future generations.
. Solidarity The responsibility to come together and organize consumers in order to enhance the strength and influence required to promote and protect our interests.