In India, Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted on December 24 by the Indian Parliament. Since then we celebrate Dec 24th as the National Consumer Day.
Even though the Indian Consumer Protection Act has very strong and clear laws to protect consumer rights, the condition of Indian consumers continues to be dismal. This is because very few consumers understand their basic consumer rights. And most of them are scared of approaching the court. It is important, as consumers, we know our basic rights and about the courts and procedures that deals with the infringement of our rights.
Consumer Rights in India
Under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the rights of consumers in India can be listed as under:
- Right to safety
The right to be protected against the marketing of goods and services, which are hazardous to life and property.
- Right to Information
The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
- Right to Choose
The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices.
- Right to be Heard
The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate fora.
- Right to Redressal
The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers..
- Right to Consumer Education
The right to complete consumer education
If a consumer feels he/she is violated from any of the above consumers right then he/she can file a complaint online on INGRAM (integrated Grievance Redressal Mechanism) or at a consumer court.
Types of Consumer Courts:
- District Forum (DCDRF), established by the State Government in each district of the State, It Deals with cases valuing up to ₹20 lakh.
- State Commission (SCDRC), established by the State Government in the State. It is a state level court that takes up cases valuing less than ₹1 Crore.
- National commission (NCDRC), A national level court works for the whole country and deals with amount more than ₹1 Crore.
Depending upon the amount of claim, You can approach respective courts.
When to Approach Consumer Courts?
The problem with courts is that they don’t have enough benches to hear cases. They prolong the case by taking adjournments. They complicate issues, which an ordinary consumer is not competent to match. And if the judge or members are on leave, a verdict can’t be given.
The members of the court are poorly paid and it therefore becomes easier for companies involved in disputes to bribe members,” says a senior official of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), the ministry arm for consumer issues.
Overall we don’t recommend you to go to court if the compensation value is likely to be small.
Where to Approach Instead
The Department of Consumer Affairs has launched an Integrated Grievance Redress Mechanism (INGRAM) portal for bringing all stakeholders such as consumers, Central and State Government Agencies, private companies, regulators, Ombudsmen and call centers etc. on to a single platform.
It facilitates the resolution of disputes between parties. In this respect it is often seen as being the online equivalent of alternative dispute resolution(ADR).
You can also call to register your complaint 1800-11-4000 or 14404
It is a convenient method to resolve consumer complaints and worth a try.
2. Social Media
Sharing your experience on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and consumer portals like localcircles.com, helplinenumber.net, etc can do wonders and often result in speedy resolution of a complaint. There are several cases I know personally where companies provided speedy resolution or if the demand was not genuine they explain the policy in details so that everyone knows that company was not wrong in denying the compensation.