Guest Author: Anusha Iyer
Every year 15 March is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day. World over consumer organisations celebrate this day to promote the basic rights of consumers. This year Consumers International (CI), London, a world federation of consumer groups serving as the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers, is celebrating this day with the theme ‘Fix Our Phone Rights’. Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad is a non-political, non-profit and non-government organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of consumer interests through effective uses of education, research, the media and the law. CERC is a member of Consumers International.
CERC organised a 4 day programme to celebrated World Consumer Rights Day.
Open House from 12 March 2014 to 15 March 2014
CERC arranged an Open House at CERC for which they invited students (around 225) from various colleges from different courses. The Open House included a guided tour of the centre and demonstration of tests at our comparative product testing laboratory, complaints and legal advice cell, demonstration stalls set up by the Department of Weights and Measures and the screening of audiovisuals on consumer issues. Students were also sensitized towards the issues of consumer protection and thus making them aware of their rights as a consumer.
Expert Session on 15 March 2014 at 3 pm
Focusing on this year’s theme for WCRD ‘Fix Our Phone Rights’, CERC organised sessions on ‘Phone Users Rights and Redressal Mechanism’ where two experts from the sector spoke on ‘Telephone Users rights and Awareness’ and ‘Consumer Redressal Mechanism’. The experts then answered the queries raised by the audience. Consumers from across the city attended this expert session.
Demonstrations by Department of Weights and Measures on 15 March 2014 from 10.30 am
Department of weights and measures were invited to hold an exhibition at the CERC campus on how sellers may cheat consumers in weights and measures. Visitors were explained on cautions to be taken with regards to weights and measures to avoid being cheated. BIS hallmarking system for gold and how to check for the purity of gold before buying were also discussed.
Poster Exhibition from 12 March 2014 to 15 March 2014
Various posters on the 8 consumer rights were also displayed. Other than these, posters giving an insight into consumer products were also exhibited. The posters displayed the shocking truths about instant noodles, baby products, antibacterial products, herbal diet pills and some misleading ads.
Representation to Government supporting CI’s ‘Consumer Agenda for Fair Mobile Services’
The theme for this year advocated for fair mobile services and continuing with the theme CERC has made a representation to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India and to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to support CI’s proposed amendments to “Protecting and supporting users/ consumers of telecommunication services/ information and communication technologies”. Five issues that most affect consumers of mobile services had been identified which are:
1. Provide consumers with access to an affordable, reliable service.
2. Provide consumers with fair contracts explained in clear, complete and accessible language.
3. Provide consumers with fair and transparent billing.
4. Provide consumers with security and power over their own information.
5. Listen and respond to consumer complaints.
A similar representation has also been made to major telecom service providers, asking them what steps they have taken to address the five issues that affect consumers of mobile services.
Focusing on this year’s theme, the mediation department at CERC from 15 March to 31 March will specially guide consumers who have grievance with the telecom service providers. Consumers who have issues with the telecom sector can approach the centre with their problems.
About World Consumer Right’s Day
On 15 March 1962, President John F Kennedy first addressed the issue of consumer rights to the US Congress to recognize four basic Consumer Rights i.e. Right to Safety, Right to be Informed, Right to Choose and Right to be Heard and that day marked the beginning of a new chapter in consumer activism. Henceforth 15 March marks the Consumer Rights Day to identify our rights as consumers.
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