On National Consumer Rights Day, December 24, the rights of all consumers are celebrated across the country every year. The power of the consumer has hit a peak today – in buying and selling of goods. Like in the western world, in India too, we are going all out – to focus on our national consumer movement. Now that e-commerce has become the first choice for most of us, it is important that we as consumers need to be aware of our rights and know how to exercise it too. What’s important is that we also need to understand the responsibilities that go with it.
What is the theme of National Consumer Rights Day 2022? National Consumer Rights Day theme 2022 is – “Fair Digital Finance”. Each year, a unique theme is highlighted – to spread awareness about consumer rights & responsibilities.
In India, the rights of consumers were taken seriously when the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was enforced, which aimed to safeguard the consumer against exploitation like selling of defective goods, unfair trade, fraudulence and deficiency in services.
Today, India’s economy has evolved, bringing about huge changes in how Indians shop and travel. This was a result of innovation, rising market competition and rising presence of e- commerce services – which opened up new options to consumers. So, it created a need for the Consumer Protection Act to be revamped; and looking at this advanced, dynamic marketplace in perspective, the Indian parliament passed the updated Consumer Protection Bill in August 2019.
What were the problems faced by consumers in India?
Firstly, adulteration has been a big problem. Today, there is a duplicate for most popular brands in the market – whether it is edible oil, cereals, auto spare parts or whatever. Foodstuff is one of the primary targets – we have turmeric which is mixed with yellow colour, salt with chalk powder, chilli is mixed with brick powder, peppercorns with dried papaya seeds, tea leaves with coloured leaves, coffee seeds with tamarind seeds, several vegetables are coloured with dyes for a ‘fresh’ look; and a shocking fact is that some are even carcinogenic!! And, this applies not just to food, but to anything that sells – drinking water, petrol, diesel and the list is endless.
Consumers have every right to accept or reject goods without being cheated or exploited. But all this works around how much awareness consumers have of their rights. Most Indian consumers have a low awareness levels. The irony is – the constitution considers consumer rights as basic human rights, and in India a large section of consumers are not even aware of this!! Due to this, consumers in the country often do not get a chance to play a vital role in any consumer-related issues against unfair trade practices. Not to forget that, apart from exploitation and malpractices waylaying consumers, cybercrimes have also increased.
But, yes the picture is changing. If we try to figure out – what are the top three items in a customer’s wishlist? Today, they crave for a ‘personalized’ experience, they want you to solve their problems and ‘listen’ to them too. They would like you to be not reactive, but proactive.
And brands are stepping up – to fall in line. Brands are revealing empathy and a purpose driven zeal, which can only rustle up a better state of affairs for the consumer!