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consumer rights.

A consumer is a person who buys goods or services to be used or consumed by himself/herself or by someone else on behalf of the buyer. Goods may include both consumable items (milk, fruits, flour, etc.) or durable consumer goods (television, bicycle, etc.). While services paid for may be transport, electricity, etc.

Today consumers face various problems on account of competition in the market, misleading advertisements, availability of inferior quality of goods and services, etc. Therefore to safeguard the interest of consumers, government has recognised certain rights of consumers.

The various rights of consumers that are recognised by Government of India:

1. Right to Safety: Consumers have right to be protected against marketing of goods which are injurious to health and life. As a consumer if you are conscious of this right, you can take precautions to prevent the injury or if injury is caused in spite of precaution, you have a right to complain against the dealer and even claim compensation. For example, if you buy any medicine, the pharmacy selling it can be held responsible if the medicine proves harmful.

2. Right to be informed: Consumers also have the right to be informed about the quantity, quality, purity, standard or grade and price of the goods available so that they can make proper choice before buying any product or service. Where necessary the consumer must also be informed about the safety precautions to be taken while using the product to avoid loss or injury. For example, the supplier of the gas cylinder must inform the user to stop the inflow of gas with the help of  the regulator when it is not in use.

3. Right to choose: Every consumer has the right to choose the goods needed from a wide variety of similar goods. Very often dealers and traders try to use pressure tactics to sell goods of poor quality. Sometimes, consumers are also carried away by advertisements on the TV. These possibilities can be avoided if the consumers are conscious of this right.

4. Right to be heard: This right has three interpretations.
    (i) This right means that consumers have a right to be consulted by Government and public bodies when decisions and policies are made affecting consumer interests.
    (ii) Consumers have a right to be heard by manufacturers, dealers and advertisers about their opinion on production and marketing decisions.
    (iii) Consumers have the right to be heard in legal proceedings in law courts dealing with consumer complaints.

5. Right to seek redressal: If and when any consumer has a complaint or grievance due to unfair trade practices like charging higher price, selling of poor quality or unsafe products, lack of regularity in supply of services, etc. or if he has suffered loss or injury due to defective or adulterated products, he has the right to seek remedies. He has a right to get the defective goods replaced or money refunded by the seller or dealer. He also has the right to seek legal remedies in the appropriate courts of law. Through this right the consumers are assured that their complaints will receive due attention. This right also provides for due compensation to consumers if they have suffered a loss or are put to inconvenience due to the fault of the supplier or manufacturer.

6. Right to consumer education: To prevent market malpractices and exploitation of consumers, consumer awareness and education are essentially required. For this purpose, consumer associations, educational institutions and Government policy makers are expected to enable consumers to be informed and educated about
(a) the relevant laws which are aimed at preventing unfair trade practice;
(b) the ways in which dishonest traders and producers may try to manipulate market practices to deceive consumers;
(c) how consumers can protect their own interest; and
(d) the procedure to be adopted by consumers while making complaints.
Steps have been already taken by many consumer bodies to educate consumers through pamphlets, journals and posters. TV programmes have also come to play an effective role in this connection.

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