Consumer protection is a crucial and delicate topic. Before we head into the details of consumer protection, it is important to know certain basic terms. These terms play a vital role in comprehending the concept of consumer protection. To begin with, let us discuss the difference between who a customer is and who a consumer is. Many people do not know the distinction between the two and often consider them to be the same. But this is wrong and technically incorrect. Read further to know more about consumer and customer.
Consumer and Customer
A consumer is a person who literally consumes or finds utility from a particular commodity or service. In other words, a consumer is a person who requires the purpose of the good or service. He makes use of the particular offering with the aim of deriving satisfaction upon its consumption. Therefore, if a person has consumed or makes use of a specific commodity or service, he is a consumer. Every consumer was once a customer. Moreover, a consumer is a loyal customer.
On the other hand, a customer is only a potential consumer. A customer may or may not become a consumer. A customer is only targeted during the marketing strategy with the aim of making him a consumer. Only a few customers become a loyal customer. And thus making him a consumer.
Becoming a consumer is a big commitment. Not only is it a commitment from the company’s/ brand’s point of view but even from the consumer’s perspective. A commitment can be damaged. A consumer can stop consuming a particular product or service and switch to a more relevant and suitable one. This portrays a consumer’s disloyalty to that specific brand. On the other hand, a brand may also neglect its commitment to its consumers and customers. This often happens when the brand stops paying attention to the services that it provides to its consumers. It may also happen when the brand neglects the importance of providing quality goods.
In order to protect the consumers from exploitation and mistreatment, there are many consumer protection regulations. There exists the consumer dispute redressal agencies, the consumer protection courts, the consumer protection act of 1986 and so on.
In addition to having knowledge of these consumer protection platforms, it is equally important for every consumer to be aware of the market. Consumers should also be aware of their consumer rights and the right redressal platforms that they can seek.
Consumer Protection Act, 1986
The Consumer Protection Act came into existence in the year 1986. This was an Act of the Parliament of India and extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This rule applies to every goods and service unless the government specifically exempts any. This Act aims at protecting the genuine interests of every Indian consumer. This Act does not pardon the exploitation of consumers because consumers are the sole reason for the growth and existence of any business.
It makes provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumers’ disputes. It also makes provision for matters similar to the consumer treatments.
Some of the provisions are the establishment of (i) Central Consumer Protection Council (ii) State Consumer Protection Council (iii) District Forum.
Objectives of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986
Discussed below are some of the major objectives and aims for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
- Better protection of the interests or all consumers of any goods or services unless the governments specifically exempt.
- Establishment of consumer councils like the Central and State Consumer Protection Councils and the District Forum.
- Provision of better quality dispute redressal agencies that can help solve any dispute that arises between consumers and companies.
- Protection of the consumer rights.
- Protect consumers from exploitations or mistreatments.
- Ensure qualitative and effective consumer education. Consumers should be aware of their rights, their options and the solutions available at their disposal.
- An efficient platform for filing complaints of the consumers and solving the same.
- Attempting to provide a quality life for consumers.
- Teaching consumers and brands to live by ethical obligations and also gain genuine public support.
In order for ensuring consumer protection, it is essential that every consumer know the basics of consumer protection. Discussed below are the fundamental consumer rights.
The right to be heard.
Every consumer has the right to be heard after being exploited. An upset consumer should be aware that he/she possesses the right to take the matter to the authorities if the company does not hear them out. The right to be heard is a powerful right at the disposal of the consumer.
The right to seek redressal.
Every consumer has the right to seek out for justice. Upset consumers who have been a victim of corporate exploitations can take the matter to the redressal agencies and file a suit against the insensitive company. This right is often put to ill use by many consumers and is hence a very delicate right.
The right to information.
Every consumer has the right to information. Consumers should be amidst truthful and genuine information. Information should not have an ill purpose and should not be incorrect. In other words, consumers have the right to truthful information.
The right to protection.
Every consumer has the right to protection. Central Consumer Protection Council, State Consumer Protection Council, District Forum and Consumer Protection Redressal Agencies are at the disposal of the consumers. These institutions aim at protecting Indian consumers from exploitative companies.
The right to assurance.
Every consumer has the right to assurance. Assurance of qualitative goods and qualitative services. They also have the right to the assurance of the variety of commodities and services at their disposal.
The right to consumer education.
Every consumer also has the right to receive consumer education. This education is often a part of every consumer protection act and amendment. The government should make immense effort to share and spread the consumer rights to every remote area of India. Consumers should also receive the right to get the education on the consumer do’s and consumer don’ts. This is a very informative and knowledgeable right at the disposal of the consumers.
The right to a healthy environment.
Every consumer has the right to be amidst a clean and healthy environment. Consumers have the right to purchase goods and services in a clean environment free from hassles and pressure. The consumer should not permit intense influence of any vendor because he/she is entitled to decide independently.
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