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12 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Consumer rights and responsibilities

Even when individual harm is not that great, the cumulative effect of the harm against the entire consumer base may be staggering
Taslim Ahammad
Consumer rights and responsibilities

Rapid and appropriate execution of consumers’ rights protection law and practice become an urgent need for keeping the consumers’ rights together to make free from any irregularity e.g., unfair pricing, safety, food poisoning, contamination and other related issues. Consumer awareness is the process of making consumer of goods and services aware about rights. It is an act of making sure the consumer aware of the information about products, goods, services, redressed and other consumers’ rights.

The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP)  valuable set of principles for setting out the main characteristics of effective consumer protection legislation, enforcement institutions and redress systems and for assisting interested in formulating and enforcing domestic and regional laws, rules and regulations that are suitable to their own economic and social and environmental circumstances, as well as promoting international enforcement cooperation and encouraging the sharing of experiences in consumer protection. The guidelines were first adopted by the General Assembly in resolution 39/248 of 16 April 1985 and were revised by the General Assembly in resolution 70/186 of 22 December 2015.

  It is more than just making sure to get a good deal on a new purchase. It is about our right to access the basic things people need to live, including food, shelter, price, safe food and drinking water. This is about making sure your new television won’t break down after three months, that car has the features and technology to keep safe, and that the data companies collect about consumer online isn’t lost or stolen. “The law protects your consumer rights when you buy goods or services” (GOV.UK).

Consumer Rights– (i) Right to Safety: It should be protected against the product that hampers consumer safety. The protection must be against any product which could be hazardous to buyers’ health, mental, physical or many of the other factors. (ii) Right to choose: To be assured, wherever possible of access to variety of goods and services at competitive price. In case of monopolies, it means right to be assured of satisfactory quality and service at a fair price. It also includes right to basic goods and services. This is because unrestricted right of the minority to choose can mean a denial for the majority of its fair share. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices. (iii) Right to be informed: Need to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices. Consumer should insist on getting all the information about the product or service before making a choice or a decision. This will enable him to act wisely and responsibly and also enable him to desist from falling prey to high pressure selling techniques. (iv) Right to consumer education: Consumer has the right to know all the information and should be made well aware of the rights and responsibilities of the government. Lack of consumer awareness is the problem which our government must solve. They should know their rights and must exercise them. Only then real consumer protection can be achieved with success. (v) Right to be heard: Buyers’ interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. It also includes right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer's welfare. The consumers should form non-political and non-commercial consumer organisations which can be given representation in various committees formed by the government and other bodies in matters relating to consumers. (vi) Right to seek redress : In case a product is unable to satisfy the consumer then they have the right to get the product replaced, compensate, and return the amount invested in the product. It is the right to seek redress against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. It also includes right to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer. Consumers must make complaint for their genuine grievances. Many a time their complaint may be of small value but its impact on the society as a whole may be very large. The consumer support may demand the company to take the following actions once it decides that the company is at fault: (a) Correct deficiencies in the product to what they claim. (b) Repair defect free of charges (c) Replace product with similar or superior product (d) Issue a full refund of the price (e) Pay compensation for damages / costs / inconveniences (f) Withdraw the sale of the product altogether (vii) Discontinue or not repeat any unfair trade practice or the restrictive trade practice (g) Corrective advertisement for any earlier misrepresentation.

The consumer has a certain responsibility to carry as an aware consumer can bring changes in the society and would help other consumers to fight the unfair practice or be aware of it: (i) Be aware of their rights under the Consumer Protection Act and should practice the same in case of need. (ii) Be well aware of the product they are buying. (iii) If a product is found of anything false or not satisfactory a complaint should be filed. (iv)A consumer should ask for a cash memo while making a purchase. (v) Check for the standard marks that have been introduced for the authenticity of the quality of the product. (vi) Respect the environment and avoid waste, littering and contribution to pollution.

One might have a cause of action for harm caused by a violation of consumer rights and, if the person suffers harm, there is also a chance others have.

Even if individual harm is not that great, the cumulative effect of the harm against the entire consumer base may be staggering. Thus, if buyer is able to initiate a class action suit, he may be able to effect real change and help prevent others from  harms.

The writer is Assistant Professor

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj, Bangladesh



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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