Classification of Rights of Consumers
The rights of consumers can be classified as follows:
- Right to be informed: The consumer has the right to seek correct information about a product. All ingredients and safety features, along with any statutory warning note and statements, are made compulsory by the government to be prominently printed on the package of a product. Consumers can take informed decisions based on such information before buying the product. The date of expiry of a product, specially food products or medicines, must be printed on the package. The maximum retail price, MRP, mentioned on the package must be mentioned and no seller can charge more than the printed price. By introducing the Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005, the government has further enhanced the consumersâ€™ rights. The citizens are provided with the right to seek information about the functions of government departments.
- Right to choose: According to the provisions of this right, a consumer can choose any product in the market over other products. For example, a buyer can choose one brand over another, and has the right to buy whichever brand or product he wishes to purchase without any compulsion. Similarly, the consumer has the right to avail a service or discontinue the same, irrespective of the capacity in which he is availing the service.
- Right to seek redressal in consumer court: In case a consumer is charged unfairly for any service which was not mentioned at the time of purchase, or he has fallen victim to an unfair practices of a company, the consumer can seek redressal in a consumer court.
Other rights are right to safety, right to consumer education and right to representation.
In order to enjoy the consumer rights, a consumer is also required to fulfil certain duties, such as:
- be aware of the quality of the product or service at the time of purchasing.
- be aware of the guarantee of the product and services at the time of purchase. The consumer can insist on the buyer to issue a bonafide guarantee statement at the time of purchasing the product.
- he should insist on buying the product after checking the quality mark. The consumer should always insist on buying products with ISI mark, Agmark, Hallmark or BIS standard to ensure authenticity of the productâ€™s quality.
- the consumer must obtain a valid cash memo/bill of purchase at the time of purchasing a product.
The various consumer forums or consumer protection councils are formed to help a consumer to protect himself. They offer guidance in matters of filing cases in consumer courts and create awareness among the people. These organizations receive funds from the government for campaigning to create public awareness. In residential colonies, resident welfare associations are formed in many instances. These welfare groups often take up the fight against malpractices on behalf of their members.