P. S. Kavitha

epgp books






Learning Objective


To create, facilitate and impart awareness for protection of consumer rights and responsibilities.




The word consumer is comprehensive expression. It means a person who bus goods or utilise any public services. In Oxford Dictionary a consumer is a purchaser of goods and services, while in Black’s law dictionary it means one who consumes. In marketing and economics consumers are found to be the King. Consumers are the buyers; they form the chain of distribution in marketing. Consumer is a purchaser and plays an important role in the economics of a nation. Our nation comprises of mixed economy the capitalist and socialist. The consumers are true King in a capitalistic society where as there is no freedom of choice for the consumer in the socialist society. To maintain a healthy happy economy the consumer has to be taken care of. Hence the term consumerism was first coined in 1960’s According to Philip Kotler, Consumerism is a social movement and government agencies to improve the buyers rights and powers in relation by sellers. It is also defined as social force designed to protect consumer interests in the market place by organising and exerting consumer pressure on business.


Consumerism or consumer movement may be described as organisation, activities and attitudes of the consumers in their relation to the distribution of goods and services. Consumers are powerless before the sellers who in contrast are well organised, well informed and have professional knowledge of Commerce. Consumerism emphasizes the consumer rights to correct information on price, quality of goods, costs and efficiency of distribution of goods. Only when the consumers are aware of these rights, the consumer movement can give them protection. As long as consumers are not aware and conscious about their rights and types of exploitation they face, consumerism will be a failure one and can be protected if they want to be protected.


Historical development of consumerism in India


The Indian standard institute organised convention at Delhi in 1958 and the consumer association of India was established in 1959. The consumer guidance society was established in the year1966 in Mumbai. In 1971 The Indian Consumers Union was formed to guide and protect consumer rights. Grahak panchayat and Government employee consumer stores of consumer co-operative societies was formed to sell products directly from the producers at a reasonable rate. The saha Kari Bazaar was introduced in urban areas and in news papers the consumerism has taken its own path to make the consumer aware of their rights and responsibilities.


Definition of consumer and related terms:


Consumer: According to Article 1(4) of the Consumer Protection Law (2251/1994) (as amended by Law 3587/2007), a ‘consumer’ is considered to be any natural person or legal entity to which a product or service offered on the market is addressed. The person or legal entity deemed to be a consumer in this sense should make use of the product or service, provided that it constitutes the end user of such product or service.


Consumerism: Consumerism is the belief that personal wellbeing and happiness depends to a very large extent on the level of personal consumption, particularly on the purchase of material goods. The idea is not simply that wellbeing depends upon a standard of living above some threshold, but that at the center of happiness is consumption and material possessions.


Consumer buyer behaviour: Consumer buyer behaviour is considered to be an inseparable part of marketing and Kotler and Keller (2011) state that consumer buying behaviour is the study of the ways of buying and disposing of goods, services, ideas or experiences by the individuals, groups and organizations in order to satisfy their needs and wants.


Consumer protection and its importance


Consumer protection which is the central theme of consumerism is very much required in our country as ignorance and lack of consumer education even among the educated people is widespread. Besides this, the supplies of certain commodities which are of strategic importance are sometimes short in supply, resulting in hoarding and black marketing. People are scared to take legal action as they are apprehensive about police and court. Consumer protection is a group of laws to ensure the rights of consumers, by creating fair trade and giving information accurately in the market area. They were designed to protect consumers from fraudulent and unfair trade marketers, businessmen and organisations. It is a form of government regulation aiming at protection of the consumer rights. For example the government may open out any information about service or goods such as food, medicines which are the primary source for health and safety of a consumer.


Consumer protection is concerned about rights of the consumer and formation of organisations which makes them to choose the right and a better service or goods by sorting out the consumer complaints. It is represented to be an area of law which regulates the relationship between the sellers and consumers. It covers the following topics


  • Product liability
  • Privacy rights
  • Unfair business practices
  •  Fraud
  •  Misrepresentation

There is a real need in our country to have a good and effective consumer protection. It paves way to a healthy economy. To maintain a strong balance in economy – buyer and seller relation consumer protection plays a vital role. To have an effective consumer protection, a practical response from the business, the government and the consumers is essential. They are as follows


1. The business, comprising of all producers and distribution channels should accept and maintain respect to consumer rights.

2. The government has to help the consumer from mislead, cheated, fraud, duplicated and exploited by the business man.

3.  Consumers should accept the rights and know the responsibilities thus by asserting consumerism.


Consumer rights


The former president of USA Mr John F. Kennedy established four fundamental rights, in order to secure consumers. They are


v   Right to safety

v   Right to be informed

v   Right to choose

v  Right to be heard


Besides there are three more fundamental rights established in India. They are


v  Right to seek redressal

v   Right to basic needs

v   Right to consumer education


Right to safety


It means protection of consumers against goods and services which are hazardous and dangerous to health and life. It might be an electrical gadgets, cigarettes, tobacco, cookers, home appliances etc. the consumer should purchase items of quality marked products such as ISI/BIS, AGMARK. They should purchase an item which owes for a longer run rather than immediate necessity.


Right to be informed


Each and every consumer ensures that they know the right information about the products and services. This should include information on quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods. By giving the right information of the above said items the consumers are prevented against unfair trade practices.


Right to choose


It means right to be assured. The consumer has the birth right to select or choose any variety or similar product at competitive prices. In case of monopolies, the right to assure a satisfactory quality and service at a fair price for the consumers.


Right to be heard


It means the consumer grievances should be heard by the organisations. Consumer’s right to safety, to be informed and to choose will be in vain unless the consumer can exercise the right to be heard. It is the important and prior right for a consumer.


Right to basic needs


The basic needs such as food, air, water services like health, education should be fulfilled by the government. The government should ensure safe drinking water, pure air, and unadulterated food, education to certain age and health services to all ages. The government must be alert enough to protect the fellow citizen to get their basic needs.


Right to consumer education


It means the right to acquire knowledge and information about the skills throughout the life of consumer. The duty to make consumer aware of his rights and remedies available falls under the right of consumer education.


Consumer Education in India


Many government and private sectors offers consumer education programs and disseminate consumer information. Information on law marketing techniques, comparative testing, and effective labelling are parts of consumer decision making. For correct decision making, consumers need education to solve any problem related to the above said areas. The Union Government has been making efforts to educate the consumers. Some of the measures taken are:


Ø   Publishing materials: issuing booklets/brochures in order to educate consumers.

Ø  Taking audio video measures: Doordarshan usually telecasts programs on consume education.

Ø  Celebrating consumer day: every year 15th March is celebrated as Consumer day

Ø  Rewards: rewarding people who educate consumers by giving National Youth Award and National Award on consumer protection.


Besides government, the agencies who work in India to educate the consumer are i) Consumer organisation and ii) Business organisation


Consumer protection Act, 1986


The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted to promote and protect the rights of consumer. It redresses grievance of the consumer. The act is applicable to all goods and services, whether in private, public or co-operative sector. To approach the consumer forum the steps to be followed are


*        Who can file a complaint?


A consumer or any voluntary organization (registered) or Government.


*        What constitutes a complaint?


A written complaint stating unfair trade practices, defective goods and improper service rendered by the companies.


 *        How to file a complaint?


It can be made by the consumer or registered agent or through post. No fees to be paid with acknowledgement receipt stating the name address and signature.


*        Relief available to consumer


The redressal forum gives order to remove the defects replace of goods and refund of price.


*        Time limit for deciding the case


The National commission, state commission or District forum decides the complaints and within three months the date of notice should be received by opposite party.


The salient features of consumer protection act, 1986 are


*        Social welfare legislation

*        Effective provisions and safeguards

*        Special consumer courts

*        Simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal machinery

*        Convenient procedure

*        Covers goods and services

*        Time limit

*        Class action

*        Check on unfair practices

*        Price

*          Consumer councils


Consumer Grievance Redressal Machinery

The act provides redressal for consumer at three levels, the district level, state level and national level.


1. District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (DCDRF)


The state government establishes district forum in each district. The forum consists of a chairman and two members appointed by state government and they have powers of a civil court. It receives complaints from consumers where the value of goods and services is less than rupees five lakhs. The district forum in turn files complaint against and refers the same to opposite party and send sample for goods for testing. The forum issues order to the opposite if it is found defective or unfair by replacing, removing the defect or refunding the money with compensation. An appeal against district forum can be filed to state commission within 30 days.


2. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission(SCDRC)


It is set up by state Government and its restricted to the boundaries of the state concerned. The commission has a president who is a judge or has been a judge and two members appointed by state government. The complaints against the goods and services should be between five lakhs to twenty lakhs. The forum registers complaint against the opposite party and refers to send the goods for testing. If it is found malfunctioned compensation should be paid to the consumer. An appeal against state commission can be filed to national commission within 30days.


3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC)


The commission is set up by Central government. If the compensation amount claimed by consumer is more than twenty lakhs, they can file a complaint under national commission. You cannot pay any court fees or engage a counsel to present the case.


Consumer guidance society of India CGSI)


The consumer guidance society of India is a voluntary non-profit and non political organisation with representation to important state and state bodies concerned with consumer protection. It was established in 1966 by 9 housewives and a few social workers, who were conscious of the need for a consumer organisation to protect, promote and serve the consumer hindrance. Today it is a premier consumer association over three thousand members and has several branches. The society protects and promotes the rights of the consumers gives information and guidance through their publications whose motto is “Quality at fair price”. It takes up complaints, approach the authorities on behalf of the consumers and fights for the consumer interest against the exploitation of sellers. It covers the four areas. They are


·         Consumer Guidance

·         Consumer protection

·         Consumer education and

·         Consumer representation.


Consumer Guidance


The CGSI guides the consumers about their rights and responsibilities. There are seven rights, the right to safety, to be informed, to choose, to be heard, to redress, to receive services and to enjoy life free from pollution. The responsibilities of consumer are


·         To be alert with regard to the market

·         No black market buying

·         Purchased goods with ISI/BIS  and AGMARK certification

·         Not to be carried away by misleading advertisements

·         To be honest while buying

·         Behave properly with sellers

·         Purchase against cash memos

·         Accept the patronage of CGSI


Consumer Protection


The CGSI works in close collaboration with government agencies to detect cases of adulteration, sale of dangerous drugs and cosmetics, business fraud and publish the results in the magazine called “Keemat”. The reports are based on labtests or expert judgements. The reports are objective and dependable. If it is found guilty they were punished with help of CGSI testing.


Consumer Education


Educating consumers is done through consumer education in classrooms by having consumer economics subject in educational institutions. These programmes include

a. Development of consumer awareness in grades and brands b. Provisional of adequate information about the product safety c. Critical reports on misleading advertisements

d. Technique in protecting consumer interests, opinion creating through consumer resistance e. Art of buying in the commodity market

f. Family budgeting to get maximum satisfaction out of income

g. Use of consumer credit cards, instalment purchase, higher purchase schemes, personal loans.

h. knowledge of protective laws and protective agencies of consumer interest.

Consumer Representation


The CGSI members are active in the following central and state level committee. The central committees are


1.  Consumer co-operatives for food standards

2.  Oil and fats sub committee

3.  The ISI certification

4.  ISI/BIS advisory board

5.  ISI/BIS sectional committee on household appliances The state committee are


1.  State Advisory Board for food and drug administration

2.  Consumer Advisory committee

3.  Vigilance committee for flour mills

4.  Rationing advisory committee and

5.  Milk scheme


The CGSI organised the first All India Consumer Conference held at Mumbai in 1972 and there onwards organising the same. It promoted an Indian Federation of consumer organisation in 1978. It is purely a charitable trust and participates actively in the wellness of consumers.


The following are the centres and cell working under the Department of consumer affairs for the welfare consumer protection. They are


Ø  Centre for consumer studies(CCS)

Ø   Price Monitoring Cell(PMC)

Ø   Grievance Against Misleading Advertisement (GAMA)


Centre for consumer studies (CCS)


In the emerging marketing world with the increased expectation of purchasing quality goods choice and value of money there is a universal emphasis of protection and promotion of consumer rights and responsibilities. The Centre for Consumer Studies keeps the long term policies to position itself as a major contributor to identification of issues and priorities as well as solutions to ensure better protection of consumers. Its broad areas of CCS are


Ø   Advocacy, Policy analysis and Research

Ø  Advisory and Consultative Services

Ø   Capacity building and

Ø   Networking and information exchange


Objectives of CCS:


Ø  Conduct and facilitate in depth action research in the area of consumer protection and consumer welfare.

Ø  Organize and help other organizations

Ø   Networking with other institutions national and international level

Ø   Organizing seminar, workshops and conferences

Ø  Sensitize trade and industry and service providers to the requirements of the consumers.

Ø  Create resource centre for future research and publish books

Ø   Provides policy inputs to the department of consumer affairs


Price monitoring cell


It is responsible for selected commodities. It includes wholesale, retail prices and spot and future price of selected commodities. The prices should be directed and informed to the consumer through website daily. It analyses the situation of the market and announce the price state in advance by taking feedback. Its duties are


1. Price monitoring: it is monitored for twenty two essential commodities. They are rice, wheat, atta, gram, dal, toor, moong, groundnut oil and so on which is collected from all four regions of country. The quality of the commodity is also been analysed.

2. Sources of price data: the details of 22 commodities obtained from several regions are analysed and the sale value is been fixed by State Civil supplies department daily. Spot and Future prices of commodities will be collected by national commodity exchange

3. Production and Dissemination of price reports: Finds out the variation of 22 commodities by having one week price rate to two year price rate and analyzing them.

4.Monitoring of other relevant and probable determinants of prices. It monitors national and world market prices. At national level it includes wholesale price index, consumer price index, prices of major vegetable India minimum support price, spot and future prices of food and non food items, production of major crops, imports and exports of essential commodities.

5.Price Analysis and policy intervention: Cabinet on Committee on Economic Affairs calls for meeting and reviews the price index, international future prices etc. it monitors the decisions by concerned departments and submits the report.

6.Market intervention schemes: Regular retail price reviews decides the strategy of market intervention to stabilize the market and ensure the shortage by ensuring not affecting the consumers.


Grievance Against misleading Advertisements (GAMA)


The Department of Consumer affairs works under two departments one is Minsitry of consumer affairs and the other food& public distribution. It tackles unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements and prevents the consumer falling from misleading advertisements.


Trends and impact of advertisement on consumers:


Advertising is an audio or visual form of marketing communication that openly sponsors non personal message to promote or sell a product. Nowadays advertisements play a major role in displaying, introducing, offering discount of any product or which is to be introduced is been done through advertisement thus creating a major impact on the minds of consumers. According to Shahid, 1999 the advertisement works on six principles. It includes


ü   To score attention

ü   To arose interest

ü   To develop and sustain that interest

ü   To create desire

ü   To incite action and

ü   To create good will


The advertisements are displayed using print media, broadcast media and audio visual media. The media is paving a great passage in delivering the message of the producers. The consumers are having the choice to choose any one product from the advertisement. It provides information about the product, the price, offer and its benefits in a dramatical manner which highly influences the consumer to buy the product with use or without usage. It satisfies the consumers through vision, feeling and engages the minds of them with satiety.


It is made in a manner to create effective and persuasive way to serve the motto of the consumer in a positive manner. Mostly consumers go for purchasing according to the product value in advertisements. Hence consumer protection and advertisements are important for consumers to buy a quality product or goods or service at a fair rate.




Consumer protection is concerned with simple speedy and inexpensive redressal of grievances and is compensatory in nature. To protect the rights of consumer and make them aware about everything which should be known to any customer. The consumer should know to protect themselves from any unfair trade practices, there is consumer protection. The salient features are social welfare legislations, effective provision, safeguards and special consumer courts are some of the benefits that come under consumer responsibility. By having proper market seller relationship the consumer wants and seller needs will be effective in a longer run. As a result development of consumerism in India, consumer protection act, rights of consumer, consumer guidance society of India Centre for consumer studies and affairs were established and discussed.


you can view video on CONSUMER PROTECTION




  • Dr.S.L.Gupta, Sumitra Pal (2001), Consumer Behaviour- An Indian perspective text and cases, Sultan Chand & Sons
  • Ramanauj Majumdar,(2010), Consumer Behaviour- Insights from Indian Market, PHI learning Limited
  • Ramesh Kumar,(2008), Conceptual issues in Consumer behaviour, Darling Kindersley India private limited
  • Menu Agarwal,(2006), Consumer Behaviour and consumer Protection in India, New century Publications Khan, (2008), Consumer Behaviour, Sultan Chand & Sons


Web links

  • http://www.internationallawoffice.com/Newsletters/Banking/Greece/Kyriakides-Georgopoulos-Daniolos-Issaias/Defining-a-consumer-under-the-Consumer-Protection-Law
  • http://research-methodology.net/consumer-buyer-behaviour-definition/ https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ContemporaryAmericanSociety/Chapter%207%20
  • https://www.iaspaper.net/consumer-movement-india-upsc/
  • http://ncdrc.nic.in/bare_acts/Consumer%20Protection%20Act-1986.html
  • https://www.indiafilings.com/learn/consumer-protection-laws-in-india