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Anyone who buys goods or avails service against payment is a consumer as per Section 2(d) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Every Consumer has four rights –
Right to be informed – against fraudulent, misleading advertisement;
Right to Safety – against marketing of goods hazardous to public health;
Right to Choose – variety of goods and services at competitive prices with satisfactory quality; and
Right to be Heard – fair, inexpensive and quick redressal of grievances.
In case of a dealer selling non branded goods after assuring the consumer of its quality, then his act falls under the definition of an unfair trade practice under Section 2(r) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Section 2(r) (1) (ii) says that falsely representing the quality, standard or grade of services provided is an unfair trade practice. Section 2(c) defines a complaint which includes an unfair trade practice. Under Section 11(2), the District Consumer Forum has the jurisdiction to entertain complaints that arise in its jurisdiction.
One important thing to be kept in mind is to furnish proof of payment for services availed. Without such proofs of payment, it would be impossible to show in a court of law that the service provider reneged on his promises. Cash Memos, Bill of payment, additional warranty cards are the best available evidence in such cases.
It is important to note that the limitation period for filing a consumer complaint before the District Forum, the State Commission or the National Commission is two years from the date on which cause of action arose, unless the complainant is able to satisfy the Commission that he had sufficient cause for not filing the complaint.
There are various NGOs which work as a medium between the consumers, the courts and the service providers encouraging out-of court settlements wherever possible or helping in filing complaints before the authorities. One of them - International Consumer Rights Protection Council has been successful in this field.
A similar case of fake branding arose in Delhi in 2012 where the Consumer purchased an imported sauce of “Doritos” brand. “Green Mark” was on the label of sauce indicating that it is a vegetarian food product. After consumption of sauce by the family, her brother noticed that beef and pork was mentioned in the list of ingredients of the product. As per Food Safety & Standards Regulations, putting “Green Mark” on vegetarian food products / “Brown Mark” on non-vegetarian food products is the responsibility of importer on imported food products. When the consumer tried contacting the shopkeeper, she was told that it is an imported product and it was her responsibility to have read the list of ingredients before the purchase. This is a clear example of how brand value of a product is misused by players in the market.
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