CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
BY SHRISHTI MISHRA
What is the Consumer Protection Act?
The Consumer Protection Act, implemented in 1986, gives easy and fast compensation to consumer grievances. It safeguards and encourages consumers to speak against insufficiency and flaws in goods and services. If traders and manufacturers practice any illegal trade, this act protects their rights as a consumer. The primary motivation of this forum is to bestow aid to both parties and eliminate lengthy lawsuits.
This Protection Act covers all goods and services of all public, private, or cooperative sectors, except those exempted by the central government. The act provides a platform for a consumer where they can file their complaint, and the forum takes action against the concerned supplier, and compensation is granted to the consumer for the hassle he/she has encountered.
Consumer Rights and Responsibilities:
The Rights of the Consumer
- Right to Safety- Before buying, a consumer can insist on the quality and guarantee of the goods. They should ideally purchase a certified product like ISI or AGMARK.
- Right to Choose- Consumers should have the right to choose from a variety of goods and in a competitive price.
- Right to be informed- The buyers should be informed of all the necessary details of the product, make her/him act wise, and change the buying decision.
- Right to Consumer Education- Consumer should be aware of his/her rights and avoid exploitation. Ignorance can cost them more.
- Right to be heard- This means the consumer will get due attention to express their grievances at a suitable forum.
- Right to seek compensation- The defines that the consumer has the right to seek redress against unfair and inhumane practices or exploitation of the consumer.
The Responsibilities of the Consumer
- Responsibility to be aware – A consumer has to be mindful of the safety and quality of products and services before purchasing.
- Responsibility to think independently– Consumers should be well concerned about what they want and need and therefore make independent choices.
- Responsibility to speak out Buyer should be fearless to speak out their grievances and tell traders what they exactly want
- Responsibility to complain- It is the consumer’s responsibility to express and file a complaint about their dissatisfaction with goods or services in a sincere and fair manner.
- Responsibility to be an Ethical Consumer- They should be fair and not engage themselves with any deceptive practice.
How and When to Complain
Under the Consumer Protection Act, the customer can raise a complaint in writing if:
- Adoption of any unfair trade practice or a restrictive trade practice by any trader or service provider;
- The goods bought by him or agreed to be bought by him suffer from one or more defects;
- The services hired or availed of or agreed to be hired or availed of by him suffer from a deficiency in any respect;
- Trader or the service provider, as the case may be, has charged for the goods or for the services mentioned in the complaint, a price in excess of the price:
- Fixed by or under any law for the time being in force;
- Displayed on the goods or any package containing such goods;
- Displayed on the price list exhibited by him by or under any law for the time being in force;
- Agreed between the parties;
- Offering goods for sale to the public which will be hazardous to life and safety when used.
- Offering services that will be hazardous to the life and safety of the public when used.
PROCEDURE TO FILE A CONSUMER CASE
Any consumer complaint relating to a good or service must be filed in writing with a District Forum by the consumer along with the fee. On receipt of a complaint, the District Forum may reject or approve the complaint, usually within 21 days from the date of complaint. On the other hand, a copy of the complaint will reach the opposite party for approval to be made within 45 days.
The effort is taken to hear all consumer cases as expeditiously as possible. Further, it is endeavored to decide the complaint within a period of three months from the date of receipt of notice by the opposite party. Hence, if during the proceedings, the complainant fails to appear on the date of hearing before the District Forum, the District Forum may either dismiss the complaint about default or decide it on merits.