Around the world, consumers are said to be kings, as they decide the success of a product or service. However, in some rare cases, organizations try to cheat their customers, to make a higher profit margin. In such cases, it might look difficult for these consumers to get justice as they're fighting against a large organization. But, our government has made plans to safeguard the interest of such consumers.Therefore, this allows consumers to get back against companies for selling fake products, indulging in false advertisements or cheating consumers. Here’s a look at what consumer complaints are, and when to file such a complaint.

Who is a Consumer?

The biggest criteria for filing a consumer complaint is that the one filing it must be a consumer. So, with that in mind, who qualifies to be a consumer? The consumer is an integral part of the company, as it is he or she who decides whether a particular product will be a success or failure. They are the primary buyers and users for a particular product or service. All manufacturing and marketing operations carried out are in turn, done to fulfill a consumer’s requirements. Therefore, any individual who purchases or obtains an item or service for their use is a consumer. As per this definition of a consumer, anyone who purchases items for commercial, manufacturing or resale purpose is not a consumer. Now that you are clear about who a consumer is, let us move on to explore some of their rights.

Apart from the consumer, the following people can file a consumer complaint

a) voluntary consumer association

b) central/state government

c) consumers sharing a common interest 

d) If a complaining consumer dies, their legal representatives or heirs can file a complaint

Laws which Protect Consumers in Different Ways

  1. Indian Contract Act

  2. Sale of Goods Act

  3. Food Safety and Standards Act

  4. Standards of Weights and Measures Act

  5. Dangerous Drugs Act

  6. Agricultural Produce Act

  7. Indian Standards Institution Act 

  8. Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for speedy justice which does not need lengthy civil trials

Basic Consumer Rights as per the Consumer Protection Act

As per the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 here are the basic rights that all customers have:

  • Safeguarded against unfair trade practices

  • To be well-versed regarding the goods or services

  • Guarantee that goods or services are of desired quality

  • To be heard in case of any breach of rights

  • Seek redressal if the damage is suffered

  • Consumer education

The violation of any of these rights may result in the filing of a consumer complaint in India. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the consumer to file an appropriate complaint. Not only will doing so benefit the customer, it will also help the society as a whole. Such complaints prevent large organizations from indulging in illegal activities.

Why file consumer compliants

1. Unfair trade practices

While making a profit is the main objective of every business, this must occur through lawful practices. Using illicit means to obtain a profit is frowned upon by the law as it results in consumers getting cheated. Activities such as marking wrong prices on products, engaging in unfair discount practices and so come under the guise of unfair trade policies. There are several large companies that still indulge in such unfair activities within the market. Everything from negligence to doing wrong business comes under the shade of the term unfair trade practices.

2. Food adulteration

Food is a basic element that every individual requires to leave. Therefore, every organization that works in a food-related field must uphold the highest standards. Unfortunately, in India, we find that this does not always happen. Certain organizations mix cheap products in their dishes to bring down the overall cost of making a dish. Similarly, people also make use of adulterated food rather than throwing it out to make higher profits. Such practices are extremely unlawful and come under sections as per the Indian Penal Code. Furthermore, the adulteration of medical items is another growing concern in India which must be duly handled.

3. Short weights and measures

Certain old school markets and shops, especially in rural areas, cheat their customers by using short weights and measures. General stores employ such methods to give their consumers less amount of a product than what they are paying for. While the weighing scale shows 1kg, the actual quantity measured and provided may be as low as 700grams. Such crimes must be reported to bring such miscreants to justice and to ensure that all consumers get exactly what they are paying for.

4. Misleading information

Another important factor that comes under the violation of consumer rights is giving out false information regarding products. With technology advancing at such fast rates, almost all the information we need regarding a product or service is available online. However, while this provides several advantages, it also gives people the power to upload fake information to people. Providing false information regarding various products and services is online malpractice, and a violation of consumer rights.

5. Failure to Keep Promises

In case an organization or company fails to keep up a promise made, then consumers have the right to make an issue out of it. Rather than putting up with them breaking their promise, consumers should report such instances to make sure the same does not happen to someone else.

6. Poor customer service

Another major occasion when consumers should file a complaint is when they face poor customer service from a company they depend on. If ever a customer service representative talks to you rudely, refuses to acknowledge your claim or keeps you waiting for too long, you have the right to report this matter. 

Other Defaults People Can Complaint Against

  • Poor or shoddy work

  • Unapproved construction 

  • Construction on illegal land

  • Booking frauds

  • Unapproved changes in plans 

  • Hidden expenses

  • Cancellation of the project

  • Delay in possession

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