Economics Chapter 5: Consumer Rights

Facts that Matter

1.      We participate in the market both as producers and consumers. As producers of goods and services we could be working in any of the three sectors. Consumers participate in the market when they purchase goods and services that they need. These are the final goods that people as consumers use.

2.      Consumers are often exploited on the market place. Individual consumers often find themselves in a weak position. Whenever there is a complaint regarding goods or services that had been bought, the seller tries to shift the responsibility on to the buyer. The consumer movement is an effort to change this situation.

3.      The consumer movement arose out of dissatisfaction of the consumers as many unfair practices were being indulged in by the sellers. There was no legal system available to consumers to protect them from exploitation in the marketplace. It took many years for organisations in India and around the world, to create awareness amongst people.

4.      In India, the consumer movement originated as a social force with the necessity of protecting and promoting the interests of consumers against unethical and unfair trade practices. Rampant food shortages, hoarding, black marketing, adulteration of edible oil gave birth to the consumer movement in an organised form in 1960s. Till the 1970s, consumer organisations were largely engaged in writing articles and holding exhibitions. They formed consumer groups to look into the malpractices in ration shops. This movement succeeded in bringing pressure on business firms as well as government to correct business conduct which may be unfair and against the interests of consumers at large. Finally, a major step was taken by the Indian government in the form of enactment of COPRA in 1986.

5.      COPRA is a short term for Consumer Protection Act. It was passed by the government of India in 1986 on 24th December for the protection of consumer’s rights and since then this day is celebrated as Consumers’ Day in India.

6.      A consumer can enjoy several rights such as—(i) Safety is everyone’s right, (ii) Right to be informed, (iii) Right to choose, (iv) Right to seek redressal and (v) Right to represent.

7.      There are various organisations locally known as Consumer Forums or Consumer Protection Council. They guide consumers on how to file cases in the consumer courts. They also receive financial support from the government to create awareness.

8.      Under COPRA, a three–tier quasi-judicial machinery at district, state and national levels have been setup for redressal of consumer disputes.

9.      District level court deals with the cases involving claims up to ` 20 lakhs. The state level courts take cases between ` 20 lakhs to ` 1 crore. The national level court deals with the cases involving claims exceeding ` 1 crore. If the case is dismissed at district level court, the consumer can also appeal in state and then in national level court.

10.  In 1985 the UN adopted the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection. At the international level it has become the foundation for consumer movement. Today Consumer International has 240 organisations from over 100 countries.

11.  When we as consumers become conscious of our rights while purchasing goods and services, we will be able to discriminate and make informed choices. This calls for acquiring the knowledge and skill to become a well-informed consumer. If customers want their rights they should also observe some duties.

— After a purchase we must insist on cash memo.

— While purchasing goods we must be careful about the quality of goods as well as the guarantee of products and services.

— We should buy certified goods—ISI, AGMARK etc.

12.  ISI and AGMARK are logos and certifications which help consumers get assured of quality while purchasing goods and services. The organisations that monitor and issue these certificates allow producers to use their logos provided they follow certain quality standards.

13.  It is not compulsory for all producers to follow standards. However, the products that affect health and safety of consumers or the products of mass consumption such as LPG cylinders it is mandatory on the part of producers to get certified by these organisations.

14.  COPRA is not free from drawbacks. The consumer redressal process is becoming cumbersome,  expensive and time consuming.

15.  In India, there are over 700 consumer groups of which, unfortunately, only about 20–25 are well-organised and functioning smoothly.

Words that Matter

  1. Consumers: People who buy different articles to satisfy their needs.
  2. Producers: People who manufacture or distribute different articles.
  3. Retailers: Shopkeepers who sell articles to the customer.
  4. National Consumer Dispute Redressal: Consumer Court at the national level.
  5. State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission: Consumer Court at the state level.
  6. Consumer International: Consumer Court at the international level.
  7. District Consumer Court or District Forum: Consumer Court at the district level.
  8. P.D.S.: Public Distribution System initiated by the government to ensure the supply of essential goods at all corners of the country.
  9. F.P.S.: Fair Price Shops which are set up by the government to sell the essential goods at nominal price.
  10. COPRA: Consumer Protection Act 1986 which was enacted by the government of India in 1986 to correct business conduct.
  11. RTI: Right to Information Act which was enacted by the government of India in October 2005 to ensure its citizens all the information about the functions of government departments.

I. MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS

Choose the correct option:

1. When is ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ celebrated?

(a) 12th March                                                                                    (b) 15th March

(c) 11th March                                                                                    (d) 18th March

2. What does ‘ISO’ stand for?

(a) International Organisation for Security                                         (b) Indian Organisation for Standardisation

(c) International Organisation for Standardisation                             (d) None of the above

3. In the market place rules and regulations are needed for the production of:

(a) Sellers                                                                                            (b) Suppliers

(c) Consumers                                                                                     (d) Owners

4. What is the Consumer Court at the National level called?

(a) The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (b) State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission                           

(c) The District Forum                                                                        (d) None of the above

5. When was the ‘Consumer Protection’ Act amended?

(a) In 1990 and 1992                                                                          (b) In 1992 and 1995

(c) In 1989 and 1991                                                                          (d) In 1991 and 1993

6. When was the ‘Right to Information Act’ passed?

(a) In October, 2005                                                                           (b) In October, 2006

(c) In September, 2005                                                                       (d) In September, 2006

7. How many District Consumer Courts are there in the country?

(a) 505                                                                                                 (b) 500

(c) 600                                                                                                 (d) 650

8. COPRA is also known as

(a) Consumer Safety Act                                                        (b) Consumer Protection Councils

(c) Consumer Forums                                                  (d) Consumer Protection Act

9. Which organisation provides redressal to consumer grievances?

(a) Consumer Protection Councils                                          (b) Consumer Protection Act

(c) AGMARK                                                                         (d) ISI

10. Which one of the following is not given on the packing of commodities?

(a) Price                                                                                   (b) Batch number

(c) Expiry date                                                                        (d) Name of the manufacturer

11. COPRA was passed in the year ......... .

(a) 1980                                                                                   (b) 1986

(c) 1988                                                                                   (d) 1991

12. AGMARK is the certification maintained for standardisation of ......... .

(a) jewellery                                                                            (b) clothes

(c) consumer goods                                                                 (d) furniture

Ans. 1—(b) 2—(c) 3—(c) 4—(a) 5—(d) 6—(a)7—(b) 8—(d) 9—(a) 10—(d) 11—(b) 12—(c)

II. VERY SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS

  1. Which logo would you like to see for purchasing electrical goods? (CBSE 2015)
  2. Who is a consumer?
  3. What do sellers usually do when there is a complaint regarding a good or service that had been bought?
  4. Exploitation in the marketplace happens in various ways. Mention one point.
  5. Give an example to show how large companies with huge wealth, power and reach can manipulate the market.
  6. What factor led to the consumer movement?
  7. When did the consumer movement come into being in an organised form in India?
  8. What do producers need to follow?
  9. What does the Right to Information Act ensure its citizens?
  10. What are the details given on the packing of a commodity?
  11. Why are certain details given on the packing of a commodity?
  12. What should consumers do if the product proves to be defective in any manner?
  13. Give an example where right to choose in denied?
  14. The consumer movement in India has led to the formation of various organisations. Name them.
  15. How do organisations like consumer forums help consumers?
  16. What does the consumer do if his case is dismissed in a district level court?
  17. What is the significance of 24 December in India?

III. SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS

1.      Describe the conditions in which markets do not work in a fair manner.  (CBSE 2015)

2.      What is the significance of RTI in relation to consumers?    (HOTS)

3.      Mention the consumer’s ‘right to choose’ with an example.

4.      What is the three-tier quasi-judicial machinery in India under COPRA? (HOTS)

5.      Why is the consumer redressal process becoming burdensome?

6.      Write a short note on ISI and AGMARK.

7.      How do ‘Consumer Protection Councils’ help consumers? Explain three ways. (CBSE 2012)

Or

What is the main function of Consumer Protection Councils?    (AI CBSE 2012)

8.      Explain the circumstances under which markets do not work in a fair manner. (CBSE 2012)

9.      Describe the provision made under Consumer Protection Act, 1986, (COPRA) for redressal of consumer disputes.  [AI CBSE 2013(C)]

10.  How do we participate in the market as producers and consumers? Explain with three examples. (AI CBSE 2013)

11.  Explain three factors that gave rise to consumer movement in India.  [CBSE 2012(F)]

12.  How are the consumers exploited in the marketplace? Explain with three examples. [CBSE 2012(F)]

13.  Explain the ‘right to choose’ and ‘right to seek redressal’ as a consumer’s right. (HOTS)

14.  Give examples of false information which was passed through the media to attract consumers. (HOTS)

IV. LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS

1.      How do the large companies manipulate the market? Explain with examples. (CBSE 2015)

2.      Discuss the common forms of consumer exploitation.  (HOTS)

Or

Explain any four ways in which consumers are exploited in the market. (AI CBSE 2012)

3.      What is consumer exploitation? What are the various ways in which a consumer can be exploited? (CBSE 2008, AI CBSE 2009)

4.      Explain briefly the three-tier quasi-judicial machinery set up under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. (CBSE 2011, 2012)

Or

What are the institutions set up under COPRA for the redressal of grievances? Explain. (CBSE 2011)

Or

How can a consumer get justice when his rights are denied? (CBSE 2012)

5.      How is the consumer redressal process becoming cumbersome? Give four reasons. (AI CBSE 2010, CBSE 2011, 2012)

6.      Explain the rights of a consumer as enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. (CBSE 2011)

TEST YOUR SKILLS

1.      What is consumer exploitation?

2.      Consumers have the right to be protected against any danger arising from the products. Explain.

3.      What do you think should be the role of government to protect consumers?

4.      How does the exploitation in the market take place?