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Consumerism - Need for Consumer Protection | 12th Commerce : Chapter 16 : Consumer Protection : Consumerism

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

Need for Consumer Protection

Though consumer is said to be the king of entire business sphere, his interests are virtually neglected.

Need for Consumer Protection

Though consumer is said to be the king of entire business sphere, his interests are virtually neglected. Shortage of goods makes the consumers to be content with whatever is offered for sale. Quality is sacrificed: warranty of performance has no meaning; health hazard is never considered; profit maximisation turns out to be sole consideration of business enterprises. In such a context, consumer protection remains a vital importance. There are three parties involved in the sphere of business transactions viz. the Government, business and the consumers. Let us discuss what each party has to do in this regard


Role of Business

Business enterprises should do the following towards protecting consumers.

1. Avoidance of Price Hike

Business enterprises should desist from hiking the price in the context of acute shortage of goods /articles.

2. Avoidance of Hoarding

Business enterprises should allow the business to flow normally. It should not indulge in hoarding and black marketing to earn maximum possible profit in the short term at the cost of consumers.

3. Guarantees for Good Quality

Business enterprises should not give false warranty for the products. It should ensure supply of good quality.

4. Product Information

Business enterprises should disclose correct, complete and accurate information about the product viz. size, quality, quantity, substances, use, side effects, precautions, weight, exchange, mode of application etc.

5. Truth in advertising

Business enterprises should not convey false, untrue, bogus information relating to the product through the advertisements in media and thus mislead the consumers.

6. Protection from the Hazard

Business enterprises should not market the product which is potentially hazardous and harmful. It should test the safety of the product before they are marketed. As regards food items, business enterprises should withdraw spoiled and contaminated food items.

7. Money Refund Guarantee

Where the product becomes defective, business enterprises should replace it with new one or refund the purchase price. If the product causes injury or harm to consumers, it should reimburse the expenditures done by the consumers concerned.

8. Consumer Grievances

Where the business enterprises have customer care department, it should handle the grievances’ of consumer immediately or within a definite time frame.


Role of Government

Since most of consumers including academically educated are illiterate about their rights and hence passive. Government should assure an active role in safeguarding the consumers. Government both the central and the state have brought out a number of legislations to protect the interest of consumers across the country. Other statues have been listed out in the ‘Do you know’ segment of this lesson. Despite the existence of legal system to protect the consumers, consumers in India are still illiterate and passive. Mere statue book will not address the problem. Law enforcement authorities should see that penal clause is not mere paper jaws-they should sting the offenders mercilessly.


Role of Consumers

Ultimately it is the consumer who alone can put an end to all their unethical trade practices. Business enterprises may break the codes and Government may rest content with mere enaction of laws and do little to protect consumers. In this context consumers have to be vigilant and organise themselves into a movement for concerted action.


Activation of Consumer Action Councils

1. Consumer action councils established at village levels should educate consumers of the right.

2. Consumer protection agencies should take necessary steps to investigate consumer complaints and grievances and arrange to forward them to correct forum.

3. It should regulate business enterprises according to the rules of the industry.

4. Voluntary consumer groups should provide information so as to educate consumers on matters affecting them through media.

5. It should organise movement against the malpractice of manufacturers and traders.

6. Consumer cooperatives need to be strengthened.

7. Consumer groups should contact the legislators to raise the consumer issues in Assembly and Parliament.

8. There should be testing laboratories at each district to test the purity of goods.

9. Voluntary consumer organisations should publicise the malpractices of manufacturers and traders by media.

10. It should take initiation to report such officials and authorities who let the offender to go scot free to follow enforcement agencies.


United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection

The General Assembly of the United Nations passed a Resolution on April 9, 1985

adopting a set of guidelines for consumer protection to persuade the member countries to adopt policies and laws for better protection of the interests of the consumers. The guidelines provided that the governments should develop or maintain a strong consumer protection policy, taking into account the guidelines.


Objectives of United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection

1. To assist countries in achieving or maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers

2. To facilitate production and distribution patterns responsive to the needs and desires of consumers

3. To encourage high levels of ethical conduct for those engaged in the production and distribution of goods and services to consumers

4. To assist countries in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at the national and international levels which adversely affect consumers

5. To facilitate the developing of independent consumer groups

6. To further international co-operation in the field of consumer protection

7. To encourage the development of market conditions which provide consumers with greater choice at lower prices.

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