Role of Consumer Organizations and NGOs:
With the ongoing changes in market conditions, caveat emptor has now changed to caveat venditor. This means “let the buyer beware” has now changed to “let the seller beware”. But, to increase the sales or revenue, seller may get involved in unfair trade practices and exploitative trade practices. To avoid this harm to consumers, it became important to protect the interest of consumers/buyers. Consumer protection has gained importance ever since. There are different acts and laws to govern the same.
Different consumer organizations and non – government organizations are also doing their part too, protect the consumers from unscrupulous or exploitative activities. They play a very important role in educating consumers about the various malpractices, unfair trade practices, exploitative activities or unscrupulous activities which are present in market and tell them about their rights. They also take up the lead in forcing the business involved in such practices to stop immediately and thus work for welfare of society.
Functions of Consumer Organizations and NGO
There are various functions performed by these consumer organizations and non – government organizations (NGO). They are:
Education of general public
Consumer associations or organizations, non government organizations or non profit organizations take up the role of educating the consumers. They tell them about their rights in the market place and thus help them avoid unscrupulous activities such as defective products, exploitation of right to information or right to choose etc. they inform them about their rights and also about their responsibilities while hey in the market and doing any kind of transactions.
Publishing periodicals / journals
These consumer organizations or NGOs publish the periodicals, journals, publications, magazines or monographs about various consumer problems, legal proceedings and reporting and various reliefs available to the consumers for different unfair trade practices. These help consumers in getting awareness and knowledge about the exploitation that is going on in the markets around the world and they will become aware while dealing with the seller.
Collecting data of different products and their testing
These associations or organizations keep the knowledge about various available products in the market and then take up these products for testing so that they can publish the reports about the products and their reviews. This helps the consumers to know about variety of products available, their ingredients and their comparison with other available brands in the market.
Encouragement for protest against exploitation
These organizations are very active and work for welfare of the consumers and thus inform consumers about their rights and also encourage them to stand up against the wrong. They encourage and motivate the consumers to strongly protest or take the legal action against various unfair trade practices, unscrupulous activities, exploitative activities or malpractices such as unsafe products, adulteration, black marketing etc.
Providing legal assistance to consumers
These organizations are very active in encouraging the consumers to stand up against the wrong doings of the seller and when the consumers agree to file a legal complaint against the seller or do the protest, these organizations help these consumers with the legal aspect such as providing them with the legal knowledge, helping them find the lawyer, make them understand the legal requirements, providing them legal aid or legal advice etc.
Filing complaints in consumer courts
Many a times, consumers are scared of filing the complaints themselves even after the encouragement given by the consumer associations or NGOs, and then these organizations or associations themselves file the case or complaint against the seller doing unfair trade practices in the right consumer court. These consumer courts include the district forum which takes up the complaints for the products whose price along with the compensation claimed is up to 20 lakhs, state commission takes up the cases of the products or services those price is between 20 lakhs and 1 crore along with the compensation claimed and the cases with are for the products costing more than 1 crore along with compensation claimed are referred to national commission.
Filing the case in general interest
These organizations not only work for individuals but also the welfare of society. When they find any exploitation or unfair trade practice in market, they file the case against the doer for general public’s interest. Cases can include: hoarding misleading or false advertisement, adulteration, black marketing etc.
Acts as grievance redressal body
When any seller or manufacturer gets to know that the consumer confronting them about his or her grievances, then they take the matter seriously and resolve the consumer complaint as soon as possible. These consumer organizations and NGOs are also in contact with the sellers or manufacturers and thus help in quick redressal of the grievances of the consumers.
There are some consumer associations and NGOs in India working for uplifting the consumers and protecting their interest. They are as under:
- Akhil bharitya ghrahak panchayat.
- Consumer guidance society of India, Mumbai.
- United India consumer association
- Consumer coordination council, Delhi
- Consumer’s association, Kolkata
- Consumer unity and trust society, Jaipur
- All India consumer protection organization
- Consumer awareness, protection and educational council
- Common cause, Delhi
- Consortium of South India Consumer Organisations (COSICO)
These associations and organizations which work selflessly for consumers and their rights are very important for a welfare society. They have constitution and working of their own. A consumer whenever in need, can contact any of these organizations. The non government organizations also known as non profit organizations are important because they do not work for profit but to genuinely help the consumers who have faced the exploitation and also help others , so that, they do not face any exploitation in future.