On March 4, 2016, a consumer court in Chandigarh ordered an oriental restaurant to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to a customer who was forced to pay Rs 20 extra as service charge. Apart from the fine, the court also ordered the restaurant to pay Rs 7,000 as litigation cost.
Two days later on March 6, 2016, a consumer court slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Unitech for taking advance money from a customer despite not having the requisite permission for a project. Apart from the fine, the consumer court also asked the builder to refund Rs 13 lakh taken from the complainants and pay Rs 10,000 as the litigation cost.
The Internet is full of incidents wherein companies have conned innocent customers. So, in a bid to protect the rights of the consumers in India, the government enacted ‘Consumer Protection Act, 1986′ which gives buyers a few basic rights. It also makes provisions for the establishment of consumer councils which address consumers’ grievances.
On World Consumer Rights Day we bring to you seven important rights that you should be aware of:
It assures that the consumers in India get access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. It also ensures that the brands do not form secret alliances to decrease competition and establish their monopoly in the market. And in case of a goods/services where a brand faces no competition at all, the right ensures that the company offers a satisfactory product at a reasonable price.
It assures that the consumers are protected from all the goods and services that can have a serious effect on their health. It is particularly important in areas such as pharmaceuticals, food processing and healthcare. The Indian government has set up quality control bodies such as ISI and AGMARK to ensure that the quality of goods is maintained.
This right ensures that the consumers get complete information about various details pertaining to any good/service so that they are able to make an informed decision about purchasing the good/service. In case of pharmaceuticals and drugs, the manufacturers need to mention the potential side-effects of the drug along with the reports from independent testing.
This right empowers the consumers of India to put forward their complaints and raise their voice against products and companies. It also ensures that consumers’ complaints are heard at various forums.
It assures that complaints made by consumers are heard at consumer courts. It also ensures that the consumers get a fair settlement for their genuine grievances.
The Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of a good or commodity is maximum price at which any packaged commodity can be sold by a retailer. As per Legal Metrology (packaged commodities) Rules, 2011, goods may be sold at a price lower than the MRP, which in turn gives consumers the right to bargain on MRP.
For example, you went to the market to buy a 500 gm packet of tea which has an MRP of Rs 200. As per the law, Rs 200 is maximum price at which that packet of tea can be sold. However, you can bargain with the shopkeeper to purchase the same packet of tea at a 15 percent reduced price and save Rs 30.
Goods and Service Tax (GST) has created a lot of confusion in the market ever since it came into effect on July 1, 2017. When it comes to the cost of any commodity, the MRP of a good includes GST. Therefore, a retailer cannot charge additional GST for a packaged good.