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Consumer Awareness: Why It’s Necessary For Consumer Protection?

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This article will understand the extent of consumer awareness through a data set of eighty urban households in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha. The piece argues the importance of consumer awareness and the realisation of the same internationally and in various nation-states. Based on the data, Ritesh Singh draws a graphic analysis of consumer purchasing habits and their awareness regarding the same.

consumer awareness

By Ritesh Singh, New Law College, Pune

Introduction 

In the globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation era, most economic decisions are taken by the market. Though the government has withdrawn itself from many economic activities,  it often interferes when the market mechanism fails due to structural rigidities in the economy and other factors to provide goods and services to the people.

Consumption is one of the essential economic activities, which requires regular government intervention,  as the market cannot be trusted to promote the consumers’ security and welfare. But, on the other hand, consumers have to be aware of the commercial aspects of the sale and purchase of goods and the health and security aspect. Besides this, they should be mindful of their rights and duties.

Though the first consumer movement began in  England after the  Second World War, US President John F. Kennedy made the modern declaration about consumer’s rights in 1962. His speech against consumer harassment and for awareness spiralled many laws that dedicatedly protected the consumers’ interests. This movement upheld consumer rights, like choice, information, safety, and the right to be heard, later recognised and codified as laws.

Following several consumer associations and long campaigns in several countries, the United Nations prepared a ‘Model Code for Consumer Protection’. Finally, drawing from Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United States Consumer Bill of Rights, the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) got drafted and adopted on April 16, 1985.

These guidelines were adopted to protect consumers, establishing a high level of ethical conduct for those engaged in producing and distributing goods and services.

India also constituted the Consumer Protection Act in 1986, established against adulterated and sub-standard products. Its promulgation on December 24 is celebrated as ‘Consumer’s Day’ every year.

Objectives of the Study

The study is based on the following objectives:

  1. To study the level of consumer awareness of the consumers in the study area
  2. To make the students habituated about the survey work.
  3. To make the students acquainted with how different statistical tools can be applied in different socio-economic problems.

As the name suggests, consumer awareness extends protection and knowledge for consumption. It could afford awareness to things like:

  • Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
  • Fair Price Shop.
  • Consumer awareness about price, quality and expiry date of the product.
  • certified products like ISI, Agmark, ISO-2000

In the face of blatant exploitation, duplication and cheating, consumer awareness becomes imperative. For instance, some common ways certain sellers or businesses exploit consumers include:

  • Underweight and under-measurement
  • Sub-standard quality
  • High prices
  • Duplicate articles
  • Adulteration and impurity
  • Lack of safety devices
  • Artificial scarcity
  • False and incomplete information
  • Unsatisfactory after-sale services
  • Rough behaviour

All of these are essentially a result of limited information, supply, competition and literacy. Thus its important that consumers recognise their rights and duties. The Consumer Protection Act also features a set of rights that all businesses alike must not abrogate. Including:

  • Right to safety
  • Right to choose
  • Right to seek redressal
  • Right to consumer education
  • Right to be heard
  • Right to be informed.

But rights don’t exist in silos. Thus it’s more important that to secure these rights, consumers also fulfil their duties, such as:

  1. While purchasing goods, consumers should look at the quality of the products and the warranty of the product.
  1. They should ask for Cash Memo for the item purchased.
  2. They should form consumer awareness organisations.
  3. They must complain of their genuine grievances.
  4. They must know their rights and duties.

Consumer Protection Measures

To protect the interest of the consumers, the government has adopted three strategies that are administrative, technical and legislative:

Administrative Measures

Administrative measures of the government include the distribution of essential commodities through the Public Distribution System (PDS). Through PDS, the government distributes some essential commodities at a reasonable price through the Fair Price Shops. In a free-market economy, a commodity’s price is determined through the free play of demand and supply.

The equilibrium price is the price at which demand and supply of the commodity are equal, i.e. there are zero excess demand and excess supply.

But sometimes government interferes in the market systems by fixing the price lower than the equilibrium price to protect the interest of the consumers belonging to the lower strata of the society. This price is known as Control Price.

When the government fixes prices lower than the equilibrium price, demand exceeds supply, which leads to black-marketing and hoarding. To check these government sales different commodities at different FPS at control price.

Technical Measures

Technical measures consist of the standardisation of the product. Therefore, one of the necessary measures taken by the government to protect the consumers is the creation of institutions for setting up the standards for making and producing various products and enforcing them. In India, this has been achieved through the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Agmark. At the same time, BIS caters to industrial and consumer goods while Agmark is meant for agricultural products.

The Bureau of Indian Standards, earlier known as the Indian Standards Institution (ISI), whose headquarter is located in Delhi, is responsible for laying down industrial and consumer goods standards on a scientific basis and certifying the goods that meet the requirements standards and the prescribed quality.

The Agmark is implemented under the Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act of 1937, amended in 1986. This scheme is run by the Directorate of Marketing and Intelligence (DMI) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. Products such as honey, masala etc., carry such marks.

At the international level, an institution called International Organization for Standardization (ISI), established in 1947 located in Geneva, serves to provide such a common reference standard. All the international Companies, goods produced by them, and institutions are certified as ISO 6000, ISO 14000 etc.

For setting international food standards, there is a similar body called Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). CAC got formed in 1963 by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organization(WHO) in Rome, Italy. It develops food standards, guidelines and codes for production and international trade in food products like milk, fish etc.

Legislative Measures

These include the enactment of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. In addition, the government enacted a specific law called the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Act provides for the establishment of consumer disputes redressal agencies at the District, State and National levels for the protection of consumer interests and to redress their grievances in a speedy, inexpensive and straightforward manner.

The Act has led to the setting up separate Department of Consumer Affairs in Central and State Government, which focus exclusively on the rights of the consumers, as enshrined in the Act.

          CONSUMER  COURTS
 NATIONAL CONSUMER  COMMISSION                        (National Level)
        STATE  CONSUMER COMMISSION                           (State  Level)
          DISTRICT  CONSUMER  FORUM                               (District  Level)

 

Consumer Protection Act of 1986 And Case Studies

Although legal provisions like that offered a sense of protection to consumers, the laws were exclusive for protecting consumers and making them aware. Thus to fill that lacuna Consumer Protection Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on  5th  December 1986.

The promulgation of the 1986 Act was intended to safeguard the interests of the consumers and for the purpose that there is Consumer Councils and other authorities for the settlement of consumer disputes and matter connected therewith.

To provide quick redressal of consumer disputes, a quasi-judicial institution is set up at all three levels. These bodies were empowered to give relief of a specific nature and award, wherever appropriate, compensation to the consumers. In addition, penalties of non-compliance with the orders given by the quasi-judicial bodies have also been provided.

Case Studies

  1. S.L.Pati vs Postmaster, Aligarh, Orissa(1993)

In this case, the money order was not delivered in time to the concerned person. If this were the normal Act of the Post Office and the office, which belong to the Union Government, no one would have faith in services rendered by them.

As a result, an amount of Rs250/- plus the money order amount of Rs.1000/- along with interest @ 18% was the compensation awarded to the deprived person.

  1. KC Panda  VS  SDO, Telecom Department, Berhampur, Orissa(1994)

The telephone line was disconnected even if the bill was paid. Proceeding before District Forum, Telecom Department made an apology for the mistake that occurred inadvertently. But, despite the apology, an amount of Rs. 2000/- was the compensation awarded to the person concerned by the Telecom Department.

Data and Methodology

For this piece, around eighty households in the city of Bhubneshwar were selected using judgment sampling. And further, it was analysed to deduce consumer behaviour.

Statistical Tools Used        

For the analysis of data simple percentage method and the arithmetic average is used.

Percentage:

Gt-Gt-1

Percentage increase/decrease=    _________   X 100

Gt-1

 

Gt= Value of the Variable in time period t

Gt-1= Value of the Variable in time period t-1

Arithmetic Average (Mean):

Sum of all the values of different items in the series

Arithmetic Mean= ____________________________________________

Total number of items

X1+ X2+………………………+Xn

=    _____________________________

N

N   =   å Xi       i = 1, 2, 3………….n

i=1

Limitations of the Study

The study area of the project is limited to Bhubaneswar city only. Thus, the sample size is relatively small. Further, all the respondents were from an urban background.

Analysis And Interpretation Of Data

Socio-economic conditions of the Households

The total number of households surveyed for the purpose is 80. For the same, the head of the family was interviewed to fathom aspects of consumer awareness mentioned in the questionnaire.

Table No. 1: total family members of the surveyed households.

Table No. 2: occupational status of the head of the household.

Table No. 3: educational qualifications of the head of the household.

Table No. 4: education status of total households surveyed.

Table No.5: income level of surveyed households.

Total family members of the surveyed households are 420, of which 220 are female and 200 are male—the average family size of the home is 5.35.

Out of 80 people interviewed, 68 belong to the service class. The rest had their own business.

Out of the total 80 of the families interviewed, 55 are highly qualified, including graduate, post-graduate, and even some possess Professional and Technical qualifications. Out of the total, 23 are at the Primary and Secondary levels, whereas two are illiterate.

Out of total family members, 190 were graduate, postgraduate and professionally and technically qualified. Again, 170 members are at Primary and Secondary or Higher Secondary level, whereas 10 are illiterates.

Rest 20 belonged to below five years and hence are not mentioned in the educational status. Table No. 5 represents the distribution of income levels of surveyed households. Out of 80 families, 10, 60, 10 belong to low income, medium income, and high-income groups.

Table No. 1

Sex-wise Family Members of the Households

Sex(M/F)Family MembersAverage family Size
Male2002.5
Female2202.75
Total4205.25

Table No.2

Occupational Status of the Head of Households

OccupationNo. of HouseholdsPercentage (%)
Services6885
Big Business022.5
Small Business1012.5
Total80100

Table No. 3

Educational Level of Head of families

QualificationNo. of HouseholdsPercentage (%)
Illiterate022.5
Primary1316.25
Secondary1012.5
Tertiary5568.75
Total80100

Table No.4

Educational Status of Family Members

Qualifications No. of PersonsPercentage (%)
Illiterate102.5
Primary307.5
Secondary17042.5
Tertiary19047.5
Total400100

Table No.5

Income Level of the Households

 Income levelNo. of HouseholdsPercentage(%)
Below 5000(Low)1012.5
5000-20000(Medium)6075
20000-and above(High)1012.5
Total80100

b) Diagrammatic Presentation of Data

consumer
Diagram 1: Gender-wise Family Members

Different types of diagrams are used to represent the data. Diagram No. 1, a Bar Diagram represents sex-wise family members of the households. Diagram No.2,  a pie chart, represents the occupational structure of the head of the household. Diagram No.3 and 4 are the Pie Charts that represents the income level of the head of households and the educational status of the heads respectively. Diagram No.5 and 6 are the Bar diagrams representing the whole family’s educational status and income level of the heads.                                                                                             

consumer
Diagram 2: Occupation
consumer
Diagram 3: Income Level of Head of Households
consumer
Diagram 4: Educational Status of Head of Households
consumer
Diagram 5: Educational status whole family
consumer
Diagram 6: Income of head of Households                

Consumer Awareness of the Households

Table No. 6 represents the preferred use of toothpaste. Table No. 7 represents the influence of different agencies on families while purchasing a different brand of toothpaste used by the surveyed households. Finally, Table No.8 shows aspects of consumer awareness in the everyday lives of the surveyed households.

 Table No.6

The preferred use of Toothpaste

BrandNo. of HouseholdsPercentage(%)
Close-up3037.5
Colgate2227.5
Pepsodent1215
Anchor067.5
Others0810
Total80100

Table No.7

Source of influence on the Purchase of different  Brand of Toothpaste

 SourcesNo. of HouseholdsPercentage(%)
TV5670
Newspaper067.5
Magazine1012.5
Others0810
Total80100

Table No. 8

Different aspects of Consumer Awareness

Consumer AwarenessYesNo
 Knowledge about Certified Products65(81.25%)15
Check MRP, Expiry and Manufacturing date68(85%)08
Knowledge about Fair Price Shop60(75%)20
Check ingredients used35(43.75%)45
Knowledge about Consumer Courts77(96.25%)03
Ever gone to Consumer Court10(12.5%)70
Insist cash Memo for Consumable goods purchased57(71.25%)23

From table No.6, it is evident that the highest percentage of families, i.e. 37.5%,  prefer Close-up followed by Colgate with 27.5%. Income and occupation factors did not influence the purchase or consumption of toothpaste of Close-up or Colgate. However, in the case of a lower-income group, out of  10, 6 families use either Anchor or Promise, and they prefer it as it cost less than the other brand of toothpaste.

On the other hand, the quality of the product is important for the high and medium-income groups, using Close-up and Colgate. Besides, the quality of product and price, children’s choices was also taken considered while using the Colgate or Close-up for about 20% of the households. The majority came to know about the product through an advertisement on TV, followed by magazines, newspapers and other agencies, as evident from Table 7.

Table No.8 depicts different aspects of consumer awareness, i.e., standardisation, MRP, date of manufacturing and expiry, knowledge about Consumer Courts, rights and duties of the consumers, etc. Out of total families, 81.25% of families check MRP, date of manufacturing and expiry. However, 56.25% of people were interviewed to check the ingredients used in the product.

As far as Consumer Court is concerned, most of them (96.25%) know about it, but only 10 out of the total respondents have gone to the Consumer Court to redress their problems on different occasions.

Lastly, it is clear from Table No. 8 that the majority of households(71.25%) surveyed insist on Cash Memo at the time of purchase. However, it is limited to non-consumable durable items and some consumable items when a large quantity is purchased.

Summary and Conclusion

This project aims to assess the people of different classes in society about various aspects of consumer awareness viz., price and quality of products used by them, Fair Price Shop, standardisation of products, Consumer Forum, and their Rights Duties etc. Consumers will lead a happy, healthy, and prosperous life if they are fully aware of the aspects mentioned above.

For the project report, the head of households interviewed is 80, and all belong to urban areas. Out of the total heads of families interviewed, 78 are literate, whereas only two are illiterate. All belong to different income groups, i.e. high, medium and low-income groups. However, the majority of them belong to the medium income group (75%). Again, based on occupation, 85%  of respondents are government servants, whereas other are businessmen.

Close-up was the most preferred brand (37.5%) of toothpaste, followed by  Colgate(27.5%) among the surveyed households. Households from medium and high-income groups prefer a respective brand of toothpaste, taking into account the quality of the product and their children’s wishes. On the other hand, for the low-income group, the most important factor determining the use of toothpaste is the product’s price. Again, most respondents (70%) were influenced by the televised advertisement about the product.

As far as consumer awareness is concerned, most respondents did not know about certified products, check MRP, date of manufacturing and expiry at the time of purchase. However, the majority of them do not check about the ingredients used in the product.

On the other hand, many knew Consumer Courts,  but only ten had ever visited the court regarding their grievances.

To conclude, people are inclined to know their rights, product details and other relevant information that could affect them somehow.

The educational implications of the study are that every student and parent should be aware of different aspects of different commodities they consume in day-to-day life. For example, they should know about certified products, Check MRP, date of manufacturing, and expiry at the purchase of a commodity.

They must have awareness about their rights and duties.  This gives a preliminary idea about survey work to the students. Lastly, students will get an idea about how statistical techniques can be used in different socio-economic problems.

 Bibliography

  1. Prof. S.P. Gupta, “Statistical Methods”, S.Chand and Company Ltd, 1994, New Delhi.
  2. S.Mishra and V.K.Puri, “Indian Economy”, Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai,2000
  3. Ruddar Dutt and K.P.M. Sundharam, “Indian Economy”, S. Chand and Company Ltd., 1994.
  4. Statistics for Economics, Textbook for Class XI, NCERT, New Delhi, 2005.
  5. Indian Economic Development, Textbook for Class XI, NCERT, New Delhi,2005.
  6. The Consumer Protection Act 1986, the Law House, New Delhi.
  7. Contemporary India, A Social Science Textbook for Class X, NCERT, New Delhi,2003.
  8. Economic Survey, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Planning and Co-ordination Department, Government of Orissa, 2006-07.

This article was first published in 2015

Appendix

Questionnaire

  1. Name of the head of family:__________________________

                                                      Education:________ Occupation:_______

                                                               Age:_________   Sex(M/F):_______

  1. Residential Address:_____________________________________________

 

                                                           _____________________________________________

                    

  1. Age (In years)                                                            No. of Persons

                                                                                                  ________________________

                                                                                                    Male     Female       Total 

                                      ________________________________________________________                                                                

  • Below 5
  • 5-14         
  • 15-64
  • 65 and above

_________________________________________________________

                                                                                         Total: 

  1. Level of Education                                                

                                                                                                            No. Of Persons

                           ________________________________________________________

                           Illiterate

                           Primary

                           Secondary

                           Graduation

                           Others

                         __________________________________________________________

                            Total                  

 

  1. Monthly Income

                                                                                                                   ( In Rs/-)

                          _________________________________________________________

                          Up to  1000

                          1000-5000

                          5000-20000

                          20000-50000

                          50000 and above

                          __________________________________________________________ 

  1. What do you use to clean your teeth?

                                    Toothpaste_____  Tooth Powder_____  Any Other______

            

  1. Which brand of toothpaste do you use regularly?

 

                                     Aquafresh___ Cibaka____  Anchor_______

                                     Close-up____Promise_____Pepsodent_____

                                      Oral B_____ Furhans_____Any Other____

 

  1. The price for a 100-gram pack of toothpaste (used by them).

                               Price_______(actual)

                               Price________(approx.)

                               Do not know______.    

_________________________________________________________________________

 

  1. Do you find the product costly?     Yes/No
  2. Do you check MRP, date of manufacturing and date of expiry?   Yes/No
  3. Do you check the standardisation of products like ISI, Agmark, ISO 2000?   Yes/No
  4. Do you check the ingredients used in the product?   Yes/No
  5. Are you satisfied with the quality of the product? Yes/No
  6. Are you aware of the Fair Price Shop? Yes/No
  7. Do you find the availability of products at FPS?  Yes/No
  8. Do you complain to the shopkeeper in case of dissatisfaction? Yes/No  
  9. Has your complaint been timely attended? Yes/No
  10. Was your complaint attended to your satisfaction? Yes/No
  11. Are you aware of Consumer Courts? Yes/No                  
  12. Have you ever gone to a Consumer Court in case of any dissatisfaction? Yes/No
  13. Do you insist Cash Memo at the time of purchase to ensure genuine purchase and tax revenue to the government? Yes/No
  14. Do you insist on Cash Memos for other commodities at the time of purchase? Yes/No
  15. How do you come to know about the product?                                                 Yes/No

                                    Advertisement                                         Family influenced

                                    _______________________________________________

                                     TV                                                               _______

                                     Newspaper                                                   _______

                                     Magazine                                                     _______

                                    Cinema                                                         _______

                                    Sales Representatives                                    _______

                                     Exhibits Stall                                                _______

                                     Radio                                                            ________

                                     Any other                                                     ________

                                    _____________________________________________________                 

16. Are you attracted by promotional offers like rebates, free toothbrushes, buy one get one free?Yes/No

       17. Do children influence the purchase of particular toothpaste?   Yes/No

       18. If a new toothpaste brand is launched in the market, will you buy it?  

                                               If yes, then what consideration?                                                                   Yes/No 

                                               Price of the Product________      Quality of the product______

                                               Promotional offer_______            Any Other______

 

———————————————————*———————————————————————–

                                                                                       

 

31 thoughts on “Consumer Awareness: Why It’s Necessary For Consumer Protection?”

  1. I have purchased a tablet name pants 3g calling tablet model number WS704D.
    Home shop 18 is seller company of product. The tablet get hanged in 1days. I tell
    them this thing they give pants care no. And penta care give me a wrong service station address. They don’t get this product back. So I request u to do the needful.

    Reply
  2. Thos project was just tremendous ,the way you write is very extra ordinary .I appreciate you for this and thanks once again for helping me in this project please post more project for 11,12class

    Reply
  3. ThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksthanksthanksthanksthanksthanksthanksthanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanksThanks a lot Thanks a lot……..

    Reply

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