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Chapter: 12th Commerce : Chapter 16 : Consumer Protection : Consumerism

Consumer Exploitation

Some of the ways in which consumers are being exploited are enumerated hereunder:

Consumer Exploitation

Some of the ways in which consumers are being exploited are enumerated hereunder:


1. Selling at Higher Price

The price charged by the seller for a product service may not be commensurate with the quality but at times it is more than the fair price. Even though sellers have surplus or adequate goods they create artificial scarcity in the market with an intent to push up the prices. As a result, consumers are forced to buy the short supply of goods at higher prices in the black market.


2. Adulteration

It refers to mixing or substituting undesirable material in food. This causes heavy loss to the consumers. This will lead to monitory loss and spoil the health. But adulterators make illegitimate profit while prudent businessmen aim at normal profit whenever unscrupulous traders seek to reap higher profit out of greed, they seek to adulterate the products. Adulteration is quite common in food articles. It is a crime which cannot be pardoned as it spoils the very health of consumers.


1. Chemicals, detergent chalk, urea caustic soda, etc. are added to make the milk dense and white.

2. Mixing of stones with grains

3. Mixing of coconut oil with palmolein

4. Honey is adulterated with water and table sugar to enhance the quantity

5. powdered rice/wheat is adulterated with starch

6. Coffee powder is adulterated with tamarind seed

7. Spices like turmeric powder is adulterated with methanol

8. Papayas seed is added to black pepper

9. Chilli powder is adulterated with brick powder


3. Duplicate or Spurious goods

Duplicate products of popular products are illegally produced and sold. Duplicates are available in plenty in the market for every original and genuine parts or components like automobile spare parts, blades, pens, watches, radios, medicines, jewellery, clothes and even for currency notes. Duplicate medicines are sold in large measure, from Cape to Kashmir. A consumer is not in a position to distinguish duplicate from the original.


4. Artificial Scarcity

There are certain situations where the shop-keepers put up the board ‘No Stock” in front of their shops, even though there is plenty of stock in the store. In such situations consumers who are desperate to buy such goods have to pay hefty price to buy those goods and thus earning more profit unconscientiously. Even in Cinema houses, board may hang in the main entrance ‘House Full’ while cinema tickets will be freely available at a higher price in the black market.


5. Sub-standard

On opening a packet or sealed container one may find the content to be of poor quality. If defective or damaged items are found in a pack, a consumer finds it difficult to exchange the defective one for good one and consumers have to blame for lack of attention one cannot return it and the consumers have tendency to blame their carelessness or fate for having bought such sub-standard product. Whenever goods are bought, seller try to avoid raising bill or consumers do not demand bill as a matter of right. This prevents the consumers from escalating the complaint against the seller where the product happens to be sub-standard. Some seller give bills which contain a stipulation that goods sold cannot be taken back. Thus gullible consumers are easily and legally cheated.


6. Product Risk

Whenever the usage of goods is likely to cause danger or hurts to customers, manufactures have to forewarn the consumers of various sources of dangers involved in the products and the precautionary measures to be taken by the consumers. In absence of such information or warnings consumers are more likely to encounter risks while using the risky products.


7. Warranty and Services

In case of consumer durable goods like televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, cars, two wheelers and air conditioners etc. free service is guaranteed only for few years called warranty period. But in reality free service are denied on flimsy grounds even during the warranty period. Customer care service is likely to be rendered the shorter warranty period only for select few items which the manufacturers know pretty well that they do not get damaged during such period .Warranty service may not be extended to many parts/components of the product sold. Thus consumers may be charged exorbitant charges in the name of repair costs.


8. Unsuitability of Products

The product quality, durability and suitability may come under the category of product fitness. What is claimed by the product advertiser must correspond to the products sold. But in actual practice, it is not so. Items unsuitable for human consumption are sold in the market. Some items marked as “unbreakable’’ break while using them. Battery having a label ‘leak proof’’ is more likely to leak. In all these eventualities users/consumers have to bear the consequences while producers/ manufacturers escape utilising the loopholes in the legal system.


9. False Advertisements

The main purpose of advertisement is to educate the consuming public and customers of various aspects of the products/service. In reality, advertisements convey very little information about the product. Many times it makes false representation about the quality, price, grade, composition, utility guaranteed, performance etc. Consumers who buy the products on the faith of claims made in advertisements are cheated.

Thus consumerism has emerged and evolved out of outcome of sufferings and exploitation of consumers, whose sole aim is to secure protection from commercial terrorism and exploitative practices and thereby safeguarding their interest by establishing the rights and powers against producers and sellers.

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