According to the current marketing trend, the consumer is the heart of all marketing operations and functions. The market becomes more knowledgeable, and the buyer must bear its burden in some situations. Buyer assurance, in this sense, is a display of providing consumers with complete information about the services, their rights, and the products.
Consumer awareness is critical since they invest time and money in promotional activities and reserve the right to simple data. A scenario where a consumer is deceived or given misleading information by a producer is known as consumer exploitation.
Large corporations with a lot of money, influence, and power can control the market in various ways. To entice customers, they can spread misleading content through the media and other channels. So, to be prevented consumer exploitation, a consumer should be aware of his responsibilities and reasons for exploitation.
Who is a ‘consumer’?
A consumer is a person who purchases something for his use. Although a customer cannot resell a thing, product, or service, he or she can utilise it to support themselves.
The user of any product or service is known as the consumer. A buyer is an individual or group of individuals who buy a product/service to either use it or further sell it. A consumer is an individual or group of individuals who, in addition to the buyer of the product/service, consumes the product with their permission.
So, we can infer that all the consumers are buyers, but all the buyers are not consumers.
What is ‘consumer exploitation’?
The act of exploiting customers is known as consumer exploitation. It arises due to a lack of product information, such as warranties on purchasing terms. Illiterate consumers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation; as a result, they are more likely to be duped into paying more or buying counterfeit goods.
When a few companies produce a product, competition is limited, allowing producers to set the cost and product availability, exploiting the buyer. A limited supply of a product results in hoarding and, as a result, a price increase.
Consumers need to spend a particular amount of value for money, including the proper quality, quantity, prices, and product information. On the other hand, many market behemoths take advantage of consumers through various forms of deception. To persuade customers to buy a product, manufacturers make deceptive claims about its capabilities.
The promise that a certain frying oil is cholesterol-free or that a certain product will cure baldness in days are two common instances. Some manufacturers develop low-quality products and fail to fulfil the warranties that come with them if something goes wrong.
Various causes of consumer exploitation
The lack of information like the ingredients used, the manufacture date, the product’s dangers and consequences, and so on can be a common cause of consumer exploitation.
Inadequate after-sales service
A vendor is responsible to provide after-sale service to their consumers. Manufacturing and selling are not the only activities to be carried out; if a consumer has a problem with the product after using it, the problem must be heard and resolved.
When a large quantity is in demand, retailers begin stockpiling it and pretending that there is a shortage of the goods, causing the price to rise and customers to purchase them because they require them. It is particularly true when it comes to essential commodities.
Many merchants pass off their wares as branded goods. They alter the quality and material and add the names and logos of various brands. In business, this involves misinformation and unethical behaviour.
Sellers with a monopoly on a product and the power to adjust the price take undue advantage by charging exorbitant rates, leaving consumers with no choice.
It is one of the most heinous examples of consumer exploitation. It results in monetary loss and harms a person’s health. Unwanted components are incorporated into meals, causing injury to the body and developing many diseases.
The amount indicated on the packet isn’t always correct. Furthermore, the material measured at the time of purchase is incorrect. Sometimes, merchants sell under-measured things and want the full quantity price.
What is depicted and revealed about the goods/services in advertisements is not entirely accurate. The product’s quality and durability are not always excellent and long-lasting. The way it’s displayed serves to entice clients and persuade them to purchase it. The failure to reveal the truth is a disadvantage.
Products of poor quality
Every business seeks to make a profit, and in trying to do so, they frequently sell low-quality products that may cause injury; it is also unethical behaviour.
Consumer protection measures
Education of the consumer
The most crucial step for exploitation resolution is consumer education and awareness. The government has enacted consumer protection laws, but it has been noted that the rules are not widely known. As a result, consumers should be properly educated about their rights.
Purchasing of standard products
On the market, there are a variety of goods to choose from. Consumers should, however, always purchase standardised goods to avoid getting exploited. Standardised goods have the ISI, AGMARK, or HALLMARK symbols on them.
Obtaining a cash memo as well as a receipt
It is critical to have a cash memo while purchasing a product. Taking a cash memo allows legal action to be taken if the quality of the items is poor or does not function correctly within the specified time frame.
Not to be swayed by commercials
Large corporations promote their products through eye-catching advertising on television and other forms of media. Advertisements are presented to have a cognitive effect on consumers, causing them to feel compelled to acquire the items. However, the reality is that consumers should be aware of marketing and attentive to them. Consumers should thoroughly check the quality, price, and quantity of goods before making a purchase.
To file a group complaint
A single consumer cannot take action against producers and merchants, but it has a more significant impact if a group of consumers files a complaint.
To check the expiration date
We carefully check the expiration date on any medicine we buy. The medicine has no efficacy after its expiration date, and there is a risk of negative side effects. Tinned food is in a similar situation. As a result, it’s critical to double-check the expiration date before purchasing.
Responsibilities of consumers
- Responsibility to be aware: A consumer must consider the product’s safety and quality before purchasing a product or service.
- Responsibility to think independently: Consumers should be concerned about what they want and need and make their own decisions.
- Responsibility to speak out: Buyers should not be afraid to air their frustrations and tell sellers exactly what they want.
- Responsibility to complain: The consumer’s responsibility is to voice and file a complaint about goods or services truthfully and fairly.
- Responsibility to be an ethical consumer: They should be honest and not indulge in dishonest behaviour.
Customer happiness is the most important role of any organisation. There is no point in having a business if you don’t have it. All marketing and business actions are carried out solely to benefit customers.
If clients are dissatisfied with the products and services, the company will be unable to advance and grow. As a result, end-user rights and opinions must be respected to avoid consumer exploitation. .
Under which act consumer exploitation is protected?
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (COPRA, 2019)
Which type of goods and services are protected under COPRA, 2019?
All types of goods and services
How many rights of consumers are stated under COPRA, 2019?
COPRA, 2019 states 6 rights
Which mark is considered a standardised mark on Jewellery?
What is the claim limit to entertain the disputes by the central, state and district consumer protection council?
The limit of a claim for addressing the disputes by the various protection councils is:-
Central consumer protection council—up to Rs 50 Lakhs
State consumer protection council—from 50 Lakhs up to Rs 2 crore
District consumer protection council— more than Rs 2 crore
What is the limitation period to file a complaint under COPRA 2019?
Any complaint to claim damages under COPRA, 2019 should be filed within two years from the date of purchase of the goods or services.