The consumer movement that began in the developed countries was largely led by President John F Kennedy in the United States in 1962. It was also propounded by President Johnson in 1965 and the consumer rights and responsibilities movement grew in the USA.
This movement also entered developing countries like India as governments started to take consumer rights more seriously. The Consumer Protection Act (COPRA) was passed in 1986 in India. This act laid down six basic rights for consumers:
1. Right to Safety:
This is the right to be protected against marketing and sale of goods and services that can cause harm to life and property. Goods and services purchased should meet their immediate and long-term needs. Consumers should ensure quality and guarantee of goods produced and they should ensure that goods purchased are ISI or AGMARK marked.
2. Right to Choose:
This gives consumers the right to be assured of quality of goods and services at competitive prices. If there is a monopoly, consumers should be assured of satisfactory quality at a fair price.
3. Right to Information:
It is the right to be informed about the quality of goods and services purchased. A consumer should be informed of quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and the price of goods. This protects the consumer against unfair trade practices. Under this right, the consumer should also ensure that he has received all the required information about the product and services before purchasing them. This will protect the consumer from falling prey to wrong selling techniques.
4. Right to Redressal:
A consumer has the right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also provides consumers the right to fair settlement of any grievances that they might have.
5. Right to Consumer Education:
It implies the right to gather knowledge and skill about being an informed consumer. Lack of knowledge often leads to exploitation of consumers. It is, therefore, important that consumers are informed and they exercise their rights to stay protected.
6. Right to Representation:
It is the right to be heard where the consumers’ interests are given their due consideration at the right forums. A consumer should be sufficiently represented at the right forums for consumer rights and welfare.