The term ‘Consumerism’ came into existence in early 1960. Consumerism is a social force designed to protect consumer interest in the market place by organizing consumer pressure on business houses. According to Philip Kotler,” Consumerism social movement seeking to augment the rights and powers of buyers in relation to sellers.”
Need for consumerism in India
1. Consumer has no say: Consumers were having no rights to register their complaint or to talk about their problems till the consumer protection act came into existence.
2. Ignorance and illiteracy: Most of the people have no education about the market or product and so they can be easily exploited by the retailers or products.
3. To get the latest goods and services: Mostly the latest goods are cheaper than old goods. It happens when the consumer has knowledge regarding that product. So, to consume the latest goods consumer protection came into existence.
4. False advertisement: The business provides the false advertisement for e.g. loose weights in 15 days. And those who have no knowledge and information can easily get exploit through this false advertisement.
5. Environmental pollution: One reason for the existence of consumer protection is the environment. The waste that comes from the industries, whether it is solid or liquid form should be disposed of properly and especially in chemical industries.
6. Difficulty to get together: The consumers were not able to talk about their problems though they all were equally exploited but now we have Facebook, Twitter where the consumer can discuss and talk about their problems.
Importance of Consumerism:
The list of functions of consumer protection is broad and detailed. The functions are not limited to only spreading awareness regarding consumer rights and responsibilities but also solving the genuine complaints of consumers. Just to legally protect consumers is not the end of work. Consumers should also unite for their goods and at various levels, consumer forum should be set up. Business units also understand the importance of the work of consumer protection. They can also maximize consumer’s welfare and protest them from malpractices earnestly.
Rights and Responsibilities of Consumer:
Rights of Consumer:
Every consumer should get his due rights so that he can get protection from exploitation. Consumer protection act gives 6 rights to consumers. The consumer protection forum which has been set up under the direction of consumer protection law, encourages and protects the rights of consumers.
1. Safety: Every consumer is entitled to get protection from products that are harmful to health. For instance, sub-standard electrical appliances can cause dangerous injuries to the consumer, and hence such appliances should not be used.
2. Information: Consumer should get all information regarding the products like ingredients, manufacturing date, directions for use, price, quality, purity, etc. For this, legally, a manufacturer is bound to display all information either, on the packing or on the label.
3. Choice: Every consumer has a right to choose and hence they have a right to choose either goods or services. The right to selection on part of the consumer has brought in market variety in goods and services by way of quality, brand, prices, size, etc by the products.
4. Representation: If a consumer is dissatisfied with a product or service, he has the right to complain. Hence, most business units have set up their own complaint redressal department.
5. Redressal: If a consumer gets the sub-standard quality of goods or services as compared to what he has been promised to get then accordingly, he should get relevant relief. Consumers are eligible for various types of relief under the consumer protection act like the replacement of goods or services or repair of the product or part.
6. Consumer education: Every consumer has the right to know and also remain informed throughout his life. Consumer should get the right quality, quantity at the given time, place, and at an ideal price. To get assurance for all these, the consumer has the right to get educated.
Responsibilities of Consumer:
1. Conscious use of rights: Every consumer has a number of rights that are legally available and the use of these rights requires complete knowledge about it.
2. Beware of misleading advertisements: Very often sellers and producers, in order to promote sales, resort to wrong and misleading advertisements. While taking a decision regarding the purchase of a product, such misleading advertisements should be overlooked and the consumer should compare the product with other products.
3. Care during purchase: No producer or seller should provide false incentives for the sake of selling the product. Consumer should emphasize in getting all the necessary information regarding the product or service.
4. Solicit for a bill: Whenever a consumer purchases a product or service, he should ask for the bill from the seller. If the purchased product or service is damaged or of sub-standard quality or does not fulfill the characteristics of a product and if the consumer wants to complain to the Consumer protection forum, it is mandatory to submit the proof of purchase in the form of a bill.
5. Solicit a high quality: Special emphasis should be laid for a permanent solution from the sub-standard quality of product and service. Problem of alteration, duplicate product, etc are common. While purchasing, care should be taken to confirm whether it has got a quality control certificate and standardization mark.
6. Registration for genuine complaints: If there is any violation of consumer rights after the purchase of a product or service, complaint should be registered by the consumer to the concerned authority.
7. Spread of consumerism: Every consumer should take an active part in the set-up of consumer protection activity in spreading awareness among consumers regarding their well-being and their rights.
8. Environmental protection: Every consumer should contribute to environmental protection. After the use of goods, the wastes should be disposed of without spreading dirt or pollution. This is the primary responsibility of the consumer.
9. No involvement in unethical activities: When a consumer is making a purchase, he/she must follow legal matters. He/she should not involve himself in black marketing, hoarding of goods, or any such kind of unethical practices.
Institutions working in fields of consumer awareness:
- Consumer education and research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad
- Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Ahmedabad
- Voluntary Organization in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE), Delhi
- Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI), Mumbai
- Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), Jaipur
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