Consumer Rights and Responsibilities

Companies, firms and organisations are governed by specific rules and regulations in selling their product to the consumer. Similarly, consumers are also governed by a set of guidelines owing to which the Government aims to instil awareness and responsibility. 

The meaning of consumer responsibilities and awareness indicate that similar to sellers, consumers or buyers also need to be aware of the legal information on goods and services, management, etc. Such information not only helps consumers to understand their responsibilities but also protect them from exploitation and unfair practices.

Rights and regulations withholding such information are registered under the Consumer Protection Act 1986.

What is the Consumer Protection Act?

The Consumer Protection Act was passed in 1986 to acknowledge and protect the interests of consumers against unfair or illegal trader practices in goods and services. This Act was introduced by the Government of India to secure the rights of a buyer against procurement of defective and erroneous products. 

Do you know: Consumer Protection Act was passed in the Lok Sabha on 9th December 1986, followed by the Rajya Sabha on 10th December in the same year. It was first published in the Gazette of India on 26th December 1986. 

Definition of Consumer Awareness

Consumer awareness can be defined as the act of ensuring that consumers are aware about the rights they possess on purchase of goods and services, products, etc. so that they are able to take the correct decision and make the right choice.

  • Consumer Awareness Examples –

An example of consumer awareness is the ‘cancer is injurious to health’ declaration on every parcel of tobacco purchase. As per the Consumer Protection Act 1986, consumers of this product should be aware that the consumption of these products can lead to health problems.

There are various rights that consumers can enjoy as per the Consumer Protection Act 1986, which are –

1. Right to Safety

This is the most vital point of consumer rights declared by the Act. A consumer has the right to be protected against any hazardous elements that come with purchase and use of a product. The protective measures must be mentioned on the packaging of a product which could be harmful to their physical and mental health in any possible way.

2. Right to Choose

Consumers have the right to choose any product they want to buy. As per the Act, a consumer cannot be forced into buying a product as they possess the right to make a decision on their own whether they want to buy it or not. 

3. Right to be Informed

Consumers have the right to gain information on every detail on a product before buying. As per this rule, the packaging of the product has to provide accurate information about its contents and manufacturing details. 

4. Right to Consumer Education

A consumer has the right to be aware of all the rules and guidelines in the Consumer Protection Act and all the responsibilities they possess. 

5. Right to be Heard

If a consumer has a complaint against any purchased product, his or her issues with that product have the right to be heard by the seller or manufacturing company, if addressed before a specified time frame.

6. Right to Seek Redressal

If a consumer is dissatisfied with a product and wishes to replace or return it, he or she has the right to seek redressal. As per the Consumer Protection Act 1986, Government of India has introduced a three-tier system of redressal.

Definition of Consumer Responsibilities 

Consumer Responsibilities and Consumer rights go hand in hand. For every consumer right, there are several responsibilities that individuals need to carry to bring changes in an unjust procurement, as well as help fellow consumers to be aware of unfair and illegal trade practices and how to fight against them.

  • Consumer Responsibilities Examples –

For example, as a buyer, when you purchase any item from the store, it is advised to ask for the cash memo to authenticate the purchase. This will help to deal with any discrepancies faced surrounding this purchase in near future.

There are various consumer responsibilities which can be derived from the multiple consumer rights mentioned in the Consumer Protection Act 1986; these are –

a) Be Aware

A consumer should be responsible for being more alert about the price, quality and quantity of goods bought and services used by them.

b) Be Involved

A consumer should possess the responsibility to be assertive, .i.e. to ensure that you receive a fair deal as a buyer. Consumers who are not involved are more likely to be exploited. 

c) Be Organised

A consumer should be responsible to speak out and raise voices in a collective, organised manner to protect the interests of all buyers.

d) Be a Sustainable Consumer

A consumer should have the responsibility to be aware of their consumption level if it is affecting other citizens, especially the economically backwards section of the society. 

e) Be Responsible for the Environment

Finally, a consumer should be responsible for understanding the consequences of their consumptions and what effect they have on the environment. 

Difference Between Consumer Responsibilities and Awareness

Consumer Awareness is a self-initiated process that advertises all rules and guidelines of the Consumer Protection Act. It helps make every consumer aware of the rights they hold on every action of trade. It also involves all the steps which are required to educate a consumer regarding their safety, responsibility and redressal options available. 

Whereas, Consumer Responsibility is also a self-initiated process to aware consumers about their rights, but it includes carrying out those responsibilities for the betterment of society and helping other consumers along the way in fighting against any unfair and illegal trade practices.   

We hope this study material on Consumer Rights and Responsibilities will help students in their next Commerce Exam. At Vedantu, we offer study material and online tutoring on Science and Arts Subjects as well!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Responsibilities of a Consumer?

There are multiple consumer responsibilities, including the responsibility to be aware, be involved, be organised, be a sustainable consumer and be responsible to the environment.

2. What is the Objective of the Consumer Protection Act 1986?

The primary objective of the Consumer Protection Act 1986 is to secure the rights of a consumer against the purchase of erroneous and defective products and also protect the interests of consumers against unfair or illegal trader practices.