Rights and Responsibilities of Consumers

A Complete Guide on the Rights and Responsibilities of a Consumer

Online Legal India LogoBy Online Legal India Published On 15 Sep 2022 Category Consumer Complaint

Many consumers complain about receiving defective or tainted items after paying full price. Similarly, several passengers have been overheard complaining that, despite paying full price, the bus and rail seats provided were quite uncomfortable. People usually do not get the full value of their money because they do not possess the right to the entire value of the money they spend on the goods & services they want. People are occasionally to fault for the inappropriate products & services that are provided to them.

What is the Consumer Protection Act?

Consumer complaints are readily and rapidly paid under the 1986 Consumer Protection Act. It protects & encourages customers to complain about shortcomings and flaws in services and products. If traders & manufacturers engage in illegal commerce, this legislation safeguards consumers' rights. The aim of this Act is to give aid to all parties while avoiding prolonged lawsuits. This Act applies to all services and goods from the public, private, & cooperative sectors, with the exception of those exempted by the Central Government. The Act establishes a forum for customers to file complaints, following which the court takes action against the offending provider & pays the client for the inconvenience.

Who is a Consumer?

A consumer is just someone who purchases or utilises a wide variety of products and services. While commodities include both consumables (such as wheat flour, salt, sugar, and fruits) and durable consumer items (such as TVs, refrigerators, toasters, mixers, bicycles, and so on), services include electricity, phone service, transport services, theatre service, and other services. A consumer is an individual who buys things or services to use or consume themselves or on their behalf by someone else.

 

A person who purchases things for resale, such as stationery, from a distributor is not a consumer but a dealer. The consumer may also be described as someone who chooses things and services, pays for them, and then utilises them to meet their desires.

Difference between Consumer of Goods and Consumer of Services

The primary contrast between commodities & services is that items can be physically inspected before purchase, but services cannot. For example, you may have a demonstration of how a television works, the visual quality, the sound, and so on, but you can't ensure that the voltage of electricity supplied will be steady all of the time. You can test a food item before buying it, or check whether fruits are overripe before buying them, but you can't ensure that a scooter or taxi driver will be careful enough to avoid an accident, or that a movie's sound and visuals will remain clear during the show.

 

Furthermore, the things we buy might be consumed right away or over time. Cereals may be preserved for a month or a week, and a refrigerator can last for years with simple maintenance. However, in the case of transport, maintenance, energy, phone service, or a film showing, we are unable to do so.

 

Rights of Consumer

The Customer Protection Act of 1986 guarantees the consumer the following rights:

  • The right to safety
  • The right to be informed
  • The right to choose
  • The right to be heard
  • The right to seek redress,
  • Consumer education is a legal right.
  • The right to basic needs fulfilment
  • The right to a safe and healthy environment.

 

Right to Safety

Before making a purchase, a customer has the right to insist on the item's quality and guarantee. They should ideally select an ISI or AGMARK-certified product. Because of technology improvements, a wide variety of services and products are now available on the market, necessitating cautious management. Some of these goods require technical knowledge to use. Many individuals may be uninformed of the safe usage of the items. They may also not have the technical knowledge required to assess the safety of services and products. As a result, product safety is crucial from the consumer's perspective. The right to safety is a consumer right that was created as a consumer right by the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.

Right to Choose

Consumers should be capable of selecting from diverse things at a fair price. The right to be selected denotes the right to access a varied selection of items and services at a fair cost whenever feasible. In the context of monopolies, it entails the right to be guaranteed acceptable quality & service at a reasonable price. Under the freedom to choose, the right to fundamental goods and services is also covered. Because a minority has a limitless power to select, the majority's rightful portion may be denied. This right can be effectively exercised in a competitive market when a diverse selection of items is available at competitive prices.

Right to be Informed

Buyers should be given all necessary product information so that they may make informed purchase decisions. Consumers possess the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, strength, purity, standard, & price of goods in order to defend themselves against unfair commercial practices. The consumer should demand on acquiring all available details about the product or service before making a choice or decision. This will help them to operate in a rational and ethical manner while also stopping them from falling into high-pressure sales methods.

Right to Consumer Education

To avoid being exploited, consumers should be informed of their rights. 

Ignorance might cost them even more. The ability to acquire the information and skills required to be an educated consumer throughout one's life. Consumer ignorance is mostly to fault for their exploitation, particularly among rural clients. They must be aware of their rights & able to exercise them. Only then can true consumer protection be achieved.

Right to be Heard

The consumer's right to be heard implies that they will be given appropriate time to vent their concerns in a suitable venue. This means that consumer interests will be considered in relevant forums. It also includes the right to be represented in numerous forums intended to protect consumers' interests. Consumers should form non-political, non-commercial consumer organisations that may be represented on different government and non-governmental consumer committees.

Right to Basic Needs

The right to basic needs ensures that consumers have access to fundamental goods and services that are necessary for survival. A good living requires adequate food, clothes, shelter, health care, education, & cleanliness. The right to basic needs fulfilment has varied implications for different civilizations & countries. Fundamental consumer needs in the impoverished world include enough food, clothing, and shelter, whereas basic consumer needs in the United States or Europe are the fair quality of consumer goods or prompt, guaranteed, and accountable services. To put it another way:

 

  • Every consumer has the right to basic necessities and services that enable them to live decent lives.
  • It includes adequate food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, water supplies, education, sanitation, energy, & transportation.

Right to a Healthy Environment

The right to have a healthy environment is a consumer’s right that contains the right to a physically healthy environment that enhances one's standard of living. It involves protection from environmental risks over which individuals have no control. It acknowledges the significance of protecting and developing the environment for present and future generations. In truth, the right to a healthy environment is implicit in all human rights and aspects of existence. Everyone has the right to lead a healthy life, free of pollution from water, air, soil, & noise. The phrase "healthy environment" encompasses both local and global environmental concerns. Locally, ozone depletion, climate change, and an increase in hazardous wastes are creating substantial violations of the right to a healthy environment, such as contaminated groundwater or polluted air.

 

  • Consumers have the right to live & work in a safe and secure environment that allows them to live a life of dignity & well-being.
  • They should be safeguarded from environmental risks or the detrimental impacts of air, soil, and water contamination, among other things.

Right to Seek Redressal

The right to seek redressal means the ability to seek remedy in the case of unfair business practices or consumer mistreatment. It also includes the right to a just settlement of a consumer's legitimate complaints. If a consumer has real complaints, they must register a complaint. Although their complaint is tiny, its impact on society might be considerable. They can also seek remedies for their grievances via consumer organisations.

 

Post-purchase concerns must be addressed through a comprehensive redress mechanism as markets become more global & direct communication between the producer & the end-user becomes more remote. Under the 1986 Act, consumer dispute resolution agencies like Consumer Courts or Consumer Forums are formed at the district, state, & national levels to enable easy and affordable quick redress of consumer issues. The District Forum handles complaints if the compensation sought is less than twenty-three lakh rupees. This is known as the Consumer Redressal Forum's "pecuniary jurisdiction."

Responsibilities of a Consumer

 

Responsibility to be aware

Consumers must be informed of the safety & product and service quality before purchasing them. Every consumer's responsibility is to collect and keep evidence of purchase and other papers linked to the purchase of durable goods. Similarly, warranty/guarantee cards provided by dealers for long-lasting consumer goods such as televisions & refrigerators should be preserved carefully for future reference. Furthermore, for a certain time after purchase, the cards allow you free service for repairs & replacement of parts.

Responsibility to speak up

Consumers should not be scared to vent their grievances and express their desires to merchants. One of the core legal rights is to speak up & defend oneself if you feel a firm, organisation, or vendor has injured you. This is an ethical decision made to safeguard other customers from the same company's misbehaviour. If you think you have been wronged, most firms have a complaint department you may contact.

Responsibility to think freely

Consumers should be conscious of what they desire and need, and as a result, they should be capable of making independent judgments. It is normally desirable for a consumer to depend on the vendor for as little information and decision-making as feasible. As a consumer, it is a responsibility to prevent yourself from being duped by acting properly. A well-informed consumer is always better able to protect his or her own interests than anybody else. Furthermore, being forewarned and forearmed is always superior to obtaining therapy after a loss or injury.

Responsibility to complain

It is the consumer's responsibility to express and file a genuine and fair complaint about their dissatisfaction with goods or services. Consumers are also reminded not to make unreasonably big claims when registering complaints and asking for reimbursement for loss or injury.

It is your responsibility to be an ethical customer

Consumers should be truthful and avoid deceptive activities. Some consumers, specifically during the warranty period, abuse the equipment with the erroneous notion that it would be replaced. This is not an equitable condition for them. They must constantly utilise the goods correctly.

Consumer Rights v/s Consumer Responsibilities

As we now have a better knowledge of the potential rights and obligations bestowed on consumers, comparing those rights to the responsibilities that follow in their wake is necessary.

 

Consumer Rights

Consumer Responsibility

Right to be Heard- It includes the right to be heard in government and other policy-making bodies and the right to participate in product and service creation before they are created or established.

  • Check if the firm has supplied you with contact information for the consumer grievance management system that is easily accessible.
  • Purchase no goods or services from a firm that does not provide contact information for consumer complaint officials who will resolve customer complaints.
  • Make an effort to remedy the marketplace's erroneous behaviour.
  • Assist others in asserting their consumer rights.
  • Help to strengthen consumers' ability to participate successfully in government decision-making procedures.

Right to Redressal- The right of a customer to redress for misrepresentation of substandard products or unsatisfactory services is legally protected. If a merchant or manufacturer has cheated them, it is their obligation to seek restitution.

  • Ignoring the damage sustained as a result of purchasing defective products and services and neglecting to submit a complaint promotes dishonest businessmen to deliver poor or defective services and goods. As a result, file a complaint even if the loss is minimal. Only valid complaints should be filed.
  • A client must file a complaint if he or she is unsatisfied with the quality of a service or product.
  • Make a claim for the penalties/compensation specified in the rules and regulations to guarantee that the delivery system's quality improves.
  • Read all terms and conditions relating to defective item return/replacement, refund policies, & warranty policies carefully.

Right to Basic Needs- Consumers have a right to life-sustaining products and services such as food, clothes, housing, health care, education, & cleanliness.

  • Learn about items and services that provide a decent level of living.
  • Learn about the quality of the offered items and services.
  • Gather data about the availability of different commodities and services.
  • Services that are dependable, punctual, and accountable are in high demand.
  • Sanitary conditions are in high demand.

Right to a Healthy Environment- Consumers have a legal right to live in an environment that enhances their quality of life. It includes protection from environmental risks over which humans have no control. It recognises the significance of environmental protection and improvement for both present and future generations.

  • Learn everything you can about environmental concerns.
  • Learn about the environmental implications of various product/service alternatives.
  • Examine items that have been assessed for their impact on the environment.
  • Make a responsible and ecologically sustainable consumption decision.
  • Sellers who follow excellent environmental policies should be rewarded.
  • Support programs aimed at reducing the use of ecologically hazardous consumer goods and increasing the availability of environmentally favourable items.

Right to Safety- A client has the right to be safeguarded against dangerous products, manufacturing methods, and services.

  • When acquiring goods or services, consumers should look for standard quality marks such as ISI, Hallmark, Agmark, ISO, FSSAI, and many others.
  • Products should be used with care & attention, and any faults should be reported.
  • Read product labels carefully, use goods as indicated, and carefully read and follow the directions in the instruction booklet.
  • Read any warning labels that may be present.
  • Inquire with the vendor about the product's safety features.
  • Purchase no phoney/fake/duplicate/dangerous items.

Right to be Informed- Every consumer has the right to have the knowledge and skills required to be an educated shopper throughout their lives. Access to the information and skills required to intervene in variables that impact consumer decisions is included in the right to consumer education.

  • Do not be persuaded merely by marketing or the claims of the vendor. Consumers should examine market reviews and viewpoints. Notify offers similarly if a company's goods or services are of bad quality.
  • The consumer must insist on getting comprehensive information regarding the quality, quantity, utility, price, and so on of the product or service.
  • Obtain comprehensive contact details for the consumer grievance system of the firm from whom the customer wants to purchase.

Right to Choose- A customer should be able to select from a diverse choice of products & services at competitive prices.

  • Collect information on the many possibilities for the product or service being evaluated for purchasing.
  • Before making a purchase, compare the services and goods' specs, competition, and reasonable prices.
  • Examine diverse feedback/reviews on products/services.

Conclusion

As misleading practices and market oddities become more common, governments must step in to safeguard consumers' interests by recognising and protecting their rights through a range of legal tools, including consumer protection laws. The collective engagement of consumers, sellers, the government, as well as other authorities will assist to achieve the goal of developing law that protects consumers and their market mobility.

 


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