Meaning of Consumer Awareness
Consumers’ consciousness towards their rights and duties is known as consumer awareness. Consumers should be aware of their rights to ensure proper standards of goods and services they purchase. According to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, a consumer in India is ‘any person who buys goods and services by making full or part payment for those goods and
services without any objective of using them for commercial purposes’.
Forms of Consumer Exploitation
The common business malpractices which prevail in the market are
- Sale of adulterated goods, i.e. addition of inferior substances to the product being sold.
- Sale of sub-standard goods, i.e. sale of goods which do not confirm to the prescribed quality standards.
- Use of false weights and measures leading to losses.
- Supply of defective goods.
- Misleading advertisements, i.e. advertisements falsely claiming a product or service to be of superior quality, grade or standard.
- Sale of spurious goods, i.e. selling something of little value instead of the real product.
- Sale of duplicate goods.
- Hoarding and black-marketing which lead to scarcity and rise in prices.
- Charging more than the maximum retail price (MRP) fixed for a product.
- Supply of inferior services, i.e. quality of service is lower than the quality agreed upon.
Reasons for Consumers Exploitation
Reasons for the exploitation of consumers in India are
- Consumers buy a wide range of goods without taking adequate initiatives to know consumer rights.
- Because of illiteracy, consumers do not challenge the quality and quantity of goods supplied by the seller, even though the goods and services provided by them are not satisfactory.
- Consumers are attracted by the advertisement of articles that they do not try to verify the quality of those goods.
Growth of Consumer Awareness
In India, the consumer movement emerged because of social reasons. It was felt that it is necessary to protect the interests of consumers against unfair practices of traders. Rampant food shortages, hoarding, black marketing and adulteration of food and edible oil gave birth to growing dissatisfaction among consumers with dishonest traders.
This led to a consumer movement in an organized manner. Since 1962, 15 March of every year is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day. The spread of the consumer movement in India has been influenced by the Government of India in favor of consumer protection. They enacted the Consumer Protection Act in 1986 to safeguard the interests of consumers.
Consumer Behaviour in the Market
Consumer protection in India is essential in the following three cases:
- To improve the market conditions which provide consumers with more choices at a lower price.
- To reduce the incidences of consumer exploitation by the sellers in the marketplace.
- To help consumers transform from ‘passive’ consumers to ‘active’ consumers.
Rights and Duties of a Consumer
Meaning and Functions of Money