A consumer is one who buys and uses various products. Children, adults, elderly people all are consumers in one way or the other. Everyday we buy different products for our use.
It includes items of daily consumption like milk, vegetables, copy, pencil, etc. Items like cloth, furniture, electrical appliances are purchased occasionally. Some items such as car, house, land, etc. are normally purchased once in a lifetime.
The shop from where we do purchasing they too purchase these items from a wholesaler or the manufacturer. Therefore, the same person can be both a consumer as well as a seller. A consumer utilizes his resources-money, time, energy wisdom, etc. to buy these items.
The following problmes are faced by Consumers:
Variation in Prices:
The consumer has to pay different prices for the same item at different places. Big shops are often expensive as they spend some money on the maintenance of shop, advertisements, and free home delivery which is hidden at the expense of the consumer.
Some shopkeepers charge higher price than the printed ones by putting their own price tags or increase the price by adding local taxes.
The consumer does not know whether he is paying the right price or not. To avoid this, the consumer should verify price from various shops or from super bazaar because by this, the consumer cannot be deceived.
Non-availability of items in the market:
Sometimes daily consumed items like butter, potatoes, onions, rice, etc. are not available in the market or one may get these by paying higher prices. Normally such scarcities are artificial. The moment when there is possibility of price rise of a commodity, it vanishes from the market.
It reappears in the market immediately after the price is increased. In such situation either the consumer has to do without these items or pay a higher price. In some situations like drought or floods, etc., the shopkeepers hoard stock of essential items and sell these items only when consumer agrees to pay a higher price. In such a situation the consumer should take a collective decision not to buy commodities sold in this black market.
Who is a consumer, Problems faced by consumers, Consumer education, Rights and duties of consumer, Consumer information, Consumer Aids?
Adulteration of goods is one such problem which is faced by the consumer in day-to-day purchases. In the present times the biggest problem is that the consumer does not get pure commodities like ghee, milk, spices, maida, basan, cereals, etc. even if he is prepared to pay higher prices.
Such items are sold in the market with a guarantee of purity but are found to be adulterated when used. Adulteration of yellow powder in turmeric powder, small pebbles in rice, starch in milk, and cheese and used tea leaves are generally sold in the market.
Traders do not hesitate to use such adulterants as these adulterants are injurious to health and fatal. Every day, we read about food poisoning in the newspaper. Consumer does not have any knowledge to judge the purity of edibles.
Therefore, he is compelled to buy adulterated items in ignorance. Apart from food products, the problem of adulteration is there for other consumable goods also. For example, if the terry cot cloth is not of standard mill, the seller may cheat the consumer by informing him the wrong proportion of cotton and Ethylene.
So in order to avoid such cheating, the consumer should always buy only from reliable shops. The Government of India has enacted an act called PFA (Prevention of Food Adulteration Act) in 1954 to check such immoral acts of adulteration. This act was implemented in 1955.
Under this act, minimum standards have been fixed for all food products available in the market. It is mandatory to adopt these standards. If a food product does not conform to these standards, it will be treated as adulterated.
Unfair means of measurement.
Incorrect measurement is another problem in addition to adulteration. Often standard weights and measurements are not used in the market. For example:
Spurious, under weights, or stones, bricks, etc. are used in place of standard weights.
Sometimes the seller weighs pickings along with the goods.
The seller tries to deceive the consumer by using the hand weighing scales in place of standard scales; the hand weighing scales are usually weighs less than the actual weight
Boxes or bottles that are used in packed goods are generally of have a shape that would give lesser quantity to the consumer. For example, a bottle with heavy base and sleek bottle gives an' press ion that the quantity of goods is but in reality it is less. For maser milk, measures with raised bottom used
Magnet: Use of magnet to increase weight, Hollow weight
To prevent unfair means of measurements, government has passed certain acts from time to time-
In 1956, government has passed a stan-1 dared measurement Act.
In 1962, decimal and metric system of measurement was introduced. This system! has following units of measurement:
1. Unit of length - Meter
2. Unit of weight - Gram
3. Unit for measuring liquids - Liter
In 1976, Standard Weight and Measurement Act were passed. Under this Act, use of any other method except decimal and metric system is illegal. For weighing and measuring, the use of standard weights and measures is compulsory.
In 1977, certain rules were fixed for packed products. Under these rules, weighing of the products along with the weight of the packing is illegal.
The consumer should take the following steps in order to avoid such malpractices:
(a) The fruit and vegetable vendors should not be allowed to weigh by stone or brick in place of standard weights.
(b) The bar of the hand weighing scale should be checked beforehand. In case of weighing scale, ensure that the needle is at zero.
(c) Check the weights and ensure that the weights are not hollow or with false bottom.
(d) The shopkeeper should not be allowed to weigh the goods along with packing or boxes.
(e) Before purchasing packed goods, check the weight on the label.
(f) If the consumer feels that the shopkeeper uses malpractices in weights and measures, he should immediately lodge a complaint in Weights and Measure Bureau.
These days, a product is produced by a number of manufacturers. Everyday new products are launched. The manufacturer resorts to advertisements for the sale of their products. The advertisement gives details of quality of product and method of use to the consumer. Normally the manufacturer gives an exaggerated account of his products.
Such advertisements lure the consumer in buying these products. After the purchase, the consumer realizes that it does not match with what has been claimed in the advertisement. Such misleading advertisements cheat the consumer.
The consumer should not purchase a product only on the basis of the advertisement.
Misleading and incomplete labels
The labels on products provide information about the products to the consumer. The consumer can decide judiciously after comparing the quality and price of the product from the label. Often the manufacturers try to cheat the consumer by appending incomplete information on the label.
Sale of substandard goods
Sometimes, seller sells sub-standard goods at higher price in place of standard goods. For example, selling furniture made up of inferior quality wood after polishing, using substandard sheets in steel almirahs and furniture, selling substandard cloth by claiming it of a superior quality and inflates its price, etc. The consumer never comes to know whether the product is of a good quality or not? He knows it only after use.
In order to avoid such cheating the consumer should purchase goods from reliable shops.
Sale of inferior goods
The seller does not hesitate to sell even inferior goods. In order to earn more profit inferior medicines, cosmetics, oil, ghee, etc. are sold in original pickings.
To check the sale of such goods, the consumer should not encourage production of such goods. For this:
(a) The consumer should be vigilant while purchasing goods.
(b) The consumer should check the label carefully. In case he finds it different, he should not purchase that good.
(c) The consumer should not sell empty pickings of original goods. Rather crush these pickings to avoid reuse.
Malpractices adopted by the manufacturers or sellers.
Manufacturers or sellers lure the consumer to buy their product by adopting malpractices misleading schemes like 'free gifts' or 'heavy discounts' attracts the consumer easily. In reality, the price is inflated in the first place and then discount of 20% to 50% is offered.
There is no change in prices in reality. Sometimes the producer imitates the colour, shape, and name of popular brand available in the market. Thus the consumer is cheated and he purchases an inferior good in place of standard one.
The manufacturer of 'B' pickle has tried to cheat by using the bottle of same colour, size, and brand name as used by manufacturer of 'A' pickle.
In order to avoid such cheating, the consumer should carefully check the name and brand of the product.
10. Shortage of standardized products. Most of the goods available in the market do not carry standardized markings. When a consumer goes to the market to buy an electric iron, he finds a number of brands without standardized markings. Still these brands are very cheap. In such a situation, the consumer is not able to decide whether he should buy a cheaper and popular bran or less popular standardized expensive brand.
The consumer should only buy standardized items because these are durable and| safe to use.