Voluntary Organizations for Consumer Awareness
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods and services produced within the economy. Voluntary consumer organisations refer to the organisation formed voluntarily by the consumers to protect their rights and interests.
1. The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) operates the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF). The primary objective of the CWF is to strengthen the Consumer Advocacy Movement in India.
2. A wide network of Voluntary Consumer Organisation (VCO) is doing commendable work to raise awareness amongst consumers.
3. To strengthen consumer protection and welfare and to provide counselling, guidance and mediation services.
4. VCO’s supported through CWF provides grants for diverse projects including comparative testing of products and services and dissemination of the findings
5. Steps have been taken to enhance transparency and to digitalise the government’s interface with its citizens.
The first priority of a consumer organization is to accelerate consumer awareness towards their rights. To accomplish this task the following efforts are made:
i. To publish brochures journals and monographs.
ii. To arrange conferences, seminars and workshops.
iii. To educate consumers to help themselves.
iv. To provide special education to women about consumerism.
To maintain desirable standards, the following steps are followed:
i) Collecting Data on Different Products and testing them
These organizations collect samples of different products from time to time and test them. After that the results of the tests are declared to public. In this way, these organisations provide prior information to consumers about the authenticity of product and protect them.
ii) Filing Suit on Behalf of Consumers
Whenever a consumer fails to raise his voice of protest regarding his complaints, these consumers’ organisations come to the rescue and file a case in the court, on behalf of a consumer. By giving this service to the consumers, the consumers get a feeling that they are not alone in their struggle.
iii) Organising Protests against Adulteration etc.
The consumer’s organizations play a significant role in eliminating the evil of adulteration, hoarding black-marketing and under-weight selling.
iv) Helping Educational Institutions
These organizations advice the educational institutions the way to prepare courses of study keeping in view the interests of the consumers.
v) Promoting Network of Consumer Association
Consumer organizations are trying to grow their numbers. They want to cover all the regions of the country so that consumers of all the regions are benefited by their services.
vi) Extending Support to Government
Consumer organisations keep informing the government agencies about adulteration, artificial scarcity, inferior quality produce etc. to help the government.
A complaint can be filed by a complainant against the seller, manufacturer, or dealer of goods which are defective or against the provider of services, if they are deficient in any manner whatsoever. An unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practice can also invite complaint
The first step in filing a consumer complaint is to send a legal notice to the seller or company. A legal notice must be drafted with the help of a consumer court lawyer and include the following:
1. Details of the consumer like name, address, product or services purchase details of the company, etc.
2. Necessary details of the problem faced and describe the deficiency in service.
3. Action taken by the company in response to the customer complaint
4. Action expected from the company
5. Time period given to the company to take action
6. The legal action that will be taken upon failure by the company in sending a reply to the legal notice.
1. A consumer as defined under Consumer Protection Act, 1986
2. A registered Voluntary Consumer Association
3. Central Government
4. State Government / Union Territory
5. One or more consumer representing numerous consumers having the same interest.
A complaint may be made in writing under the following circumstances:
1. Loss or damage is caused to the consumer due to unfair trade practice of a trader.
2. If the article purchased by a consumer is defective.
3. If the services availed of by a consumer suffer from any deficiency.
4. When the price paid by a consumer is in excess of the price displayed on the goods or when the price is in excess of the price fixed under any law in force.
5. Goods, which will be hazardous to life and safety, when used are being offered for sale to the public in contravention of the provisions of any law.
The complaint should be registered by the following ways:
1. Complaint can be registered within 2 years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen, to the date on which the completion from the deficiency in service.
2. Stamp paper is not required for declaration
3. Complaint can be registered, in person, by the complainant or through his authorised agent or by post addressed to the Redressal Agency.
4. Advocates are not necessary.
The complaint should contain the following particulars:
1. The name and complete address of the complainant
2. The name and complete address of the opposite party/parties
3. Date of purchase of goods or services availed
4. Amount paid for the above purpose
5. Particulars of goods purchased with number or details of services availed
6. The details of complaint, whether it is against Unfair Trade Practices/supply of defective goods/deficiency in service provided/collection of excess price, should explicitly be mentioned in the complaint petition.
7. Bills/receipts and copies of related correspondence, if any.
The District Forum / State Commission can order the following reliefs to the consumers:
1. To remove the defects in the goods pointed out
2. To replace the goods
3. To return to the complainant the price of the goods
4. To pay such amount of compensation for the loss or injury suffered by the consumer
5. To discontinue the unfair trade practice or not to repeat it
6. To withdraw the hazardous goods from being offered for sale
7. To provide the cost of expenditure incurred by the complainant
1. Aggrieved by the orders issued by the District Consumer Redressal Forum appeal, petition can be filed before State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission within 30 days from the date of receipt of orders
2. Aggrieved by the orders issued by the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission appeal petition can be filed before National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission within 30 days from the date of receipt of orders
3. Aggrieved by the orders issued by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission appeal petition can be filed before Supreme Court of India within 30 days from the date of receipt of orders
4. No fee is charged for registering an appeal petition before State / National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions
5. The appeal petition has to be filed with the grounds for appeal with copies of orders of the lower redressal agencies and registering procedures are same, as is being done in the case of registering complaint.
The International Organisation of Consumers Unions (IOCU) was first established in 1960 to create cross-border campaigns and share knowledge; it has over 250 member organisations in 120 countries. Its head office is based in London, England, with regional officers in Latin America, Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
Grievance Redressal District Forum Mechanism Consumer Voluntary Consumer Welfare Organisation Fund Three Tier Court Consumer Awareness
For Future Learning
STUDENTS CONSUMER CLUB
Students may create “Students Consumer Club”. They may create awareness about the Products and Services. They can motivate the parents about the consumer awareness of the following
1. MRP of the Product. 2. Expiry of the Product 3. Quality of the Product (ISI, ISO and Agmark, etc.)