AWARENESS OF CONSUMER LAWS AND RIGHTS: A STUDY WITH REFERENCE TO GOA

UGC SPONSERED MINOR RESEARCH PROJECT(2010-2012)

UGC approval NO. and date: file no.23-2089/10(WRO) dated 7/10/2010

      Total Grant Allocated:   Rs. 25000

1.     Name and Address of the Principal Investigator: Ms. Shivani Shivdatt Shirodkar, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics.

 

2.     Name and Address of the Institution: MES College Of Arts & Commerce, Zuarinagar-Goa-403 06.

 

Title of the project: AWARENESS OF CONSUMER LAWS AND RIGHTS: A STUDY WITH REFERENCE TO GOA

 

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND POLICY SUGGESTIONS

 Summary of Findings                 

a)      It was found that even though the country has good legal provisions with respect to consumer protection, many of the respondents did not have adequate knowledge of these legal provisions.

b)    Even though majority of the respondents were aware of the consumer protection act 1986, almost 82% of the respondents revealed that they did not possess any knowledge of the various consumer rights provided under the act. Thus indicating very poor awareness of consumer rights among the respondents.

c)     Only 18% of the respondents were found to be aware of the various consumer rights like right to safety, right to be informed, right to choose, right to be heard, and right to redress.

d)    Discrepancies in weights and measures got varied results.

a.     Majority of the respondents had experienced the problem of under weighing of goods.

b.     Majority of the respondents agreed that sellers always weighted goods in their presence.

c.      Majority of the respondents were of the opinion that they did not find heavy wrappers used in weighing of unpacked items, but 42.4% of the respondents found heavy wrappers being used.

d.     Majority of the respondents revealed that they verify the standard of weights in case of doubt.

e.     Majority of the respondents revealed that they did not experience any resistance from the seller in case of verification of standard. Whereas a small percentage of respondents said that they had experienced resistance from the seller.

f.       Majority of the respondents expressed that they do count the number of small items packed within a packet before use.

g.     Majority of the respondents said that they did not face a situation of violation of weights and measures.

h.     Only 44% of the respondents were aware of the authorities meant for reporting the discrepancies in weights and measures whereas majority of the respondents did not possess adequate knowledge about the authorities. Only 13.6% of the respondents had lodged a complaint regarding discrepancies in weights and measures.

i.        Majority of the respondents lacked basic motivation to lodge complaint to the concerned authorities due to lack of knowledge or due to lack of time. Whereas some respondents were reluctant in order to avoid any conflict with the seller.

 

e)     Discrepancies in prices of goods :

a.     Majority of the respondents revealed that they demand price list from the salesman.

b.     A large percentage of respondents experienced prices being tempered in case of packed goods.

c.      Majority of the respondents revealed that prices are properly displayed by the sellers.

d.     Majority of respondents found discrepancy between the price displayed and the price actually charged.

e.     A large percentage of respondents felt that sometimes they have paid price higher than a reasonable price for the commodity.

f.       Overwhelming majority of the respondents said that they demand cash memos/or a bill for goods purchased.

g.     Only a small proportion of respondents were of the opinion that cash memos did show the amount of taxes separately.

h.     A little more than 50% of the respondents expressed their willingness to lodge a complaint with the appropriate authority in case of they had been overcharged.

 

f)      A large percentage of respondents suspected quality adulteration in food items whereas as a small percentage of respondents suspected adulteration in clothing, medicines, stationary items and building majority of the respondents revealed their preference for AGMARK/ ISI/ certified products.

 

g)     An overwhelming majority of the respondents revealed their preference for AGMARK/ISI/Certified products.

 

h)    Majority of the respondents suspected brand imitation in the market.

 

i)       A large percentage of respondents verified the expiry date in case of purchase of packed goods.

 

j)       A little more than 50% of the respondents found goods sold even after the expiry of printed date.

 

k)     Majority of the respondents never experienced a situation, of tampering of the date of expiry by the seller, whereas only a small proportion of the respondents experienced tampering of the expiry date.

 

l)       Only a little more than 50% of the respondents were found to be aware of consumer grievance redressal mechanism. In a state like Goa where literacy rate is so high, this percentage of awareness not a welcoming trend.

 

m)  Knowledge about the consumer redressal forums and commissions was found to be very inadequate among the respondents. It was found that in a small state like Goa respondents did not have adequate knowledge of districts forms which are 2 in numbers and one state commission for consumer grievance redressal.

 

n)    Majority of the respondents felt that consumer protection act is adequate in protecting consumer against all types of unfair trade practices.

 

o)    Majority of the respondents were unaware of the NGO’s , guiding consumers in getting redressal. This response came in spite of the fact that GOA CAN, an NGO cum VOC doing a commendable job in spreading awareness about consumer rights and consumer protection rights and consumer protection laws in the state of Goa.

 

p)    Majority of the respondents were of the opinion that consumer grievance redressal forums do no organise any awareness programmes for the benefit of the consumers.

 

q)    Only a small proportion of respondents were of the opinion that the consumer grievance redressal forums organised awareness programmes through consumer meet, orientation programme and consumer awareness and consumer grievance addressing programme.

 

r)      The overall impression of the respondents regarding the consumers grievance redressal agencies in the state of Goa revealed a mixed response, wherein majority of the respondents stating it as fair, few stating it as good and a negligible 3% finding it to be excellent.

 

 

 

 

 POLICY SUGGESTIONS:

 

a)     Consumer education forms the edifice on which a strong consumer movement can be built for this purpose consumer education should be introduced in the school curriculum and in colleges and Universities.

b)    Consumer awareness camps be hold at district and village levels.

c)     A booklet/pamphlet containing the elementary things of consumer protection machinery should be circulated in simple and vernacular language.

d)    Mass media and print media may be encouraged to create awareness among the consumers about their rights.

e)     One acts plays, skit competition and street plays could be organised to spread awareness among consumers.

f)      Consumer information centres should be set up to organise various consumer inform prog.

g)     Consumer helplines should be set up in order to provide immediate guidance to the consumers seeking redressal.

h)    Consumer orientation could be organised through guest lectures by eminent personalities and legal experts involved in consumer movement.

i)       Consumer should be encouraged to approach forums with their complaints by giving wide publicity.

j)       Research studies on issues of consumer protection should be conducted at frequent intervals and published in the form of monologues for the benefit of the consumers.

            The District forums can play a major role at the district level in organising suitable         awareness programmes.

a.     The NGOs should play a proactive role in creating awareness among the consumers, and also provide all sorts of guidance in case of distress.

b.     NGOs and VCOs should guide the consumers in filling the written complaints and approaching the consumer grievance redressal agencies.

c.      Consumer clubs and consumer welfare cell established in schools and colleges should organise awareness campaigns, rallys and informative programmes in their nearby localities.

d.     The Department of Consumer affairs and Civil Supplies should take assistance from mass media and print media to create awareness about consumer rights and protection.

e.     The National standards like ISI, AGMARK, Hallmark, Woolmark, etc. Should be publicized in both print as well as mass media on regular basis.

f.       State governments need to design specific policies and programmes aimed at educating consumers and enhancing their awareness.

g.     Panchayats also should play a pivotal role in educating rural consumers through gram sabhas and other local meetings.