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Narendra wagle is a chemical technologist and has worked in various capacities
 

Narendra wagle is a chemical technologist and has worked in various capacities

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    Narendra wagle is a chemical technologist and has worked in various capacities Narendra wagle is a chemical technologist and has worked in various capacities Document Transcript

    • AN INTERVIEW OF A PERSON WHO AWARE OF CONSUMER WELFARE AND THEIR RIGHTS Narendra Wagle is a Chemical Technologist and has worked in various capacities, right from being a teacher in a University to a research scientist. Narendra has been a consumer activist since the past several years and here he shares his experience with us about how the role of consumer has changed over the years and how one can seek redressal against the false promises made in brochures, advertising campaigns, etc. Please enlighten us who can be called a consumer. A consumer is by legal definition (under the Consumer Protection Act,1986, most recently amended in 2003): any person who buys goods on payment or avails of any service for a consideration, but does not include purchase of goods/services for commercial purpose. What is Consumer Guidance Society of India? What is its
    • importance? The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) helps consumers (whether a member or not) to be aware of their rights (and responsibilities as well) and assert them in the market place. CGSI assists consumers in obtaining redressal for grievances against goods and service providers. CGSI offers indicatory help in sorting out complaints about defective products or deficiency in services and renders legal consultation to consumers for obtaining redressal in the consumer courts. In addition, CGSI also provides access to consumer oriented information through education and training for various groups of consumers. It tests products and publishes results in 'Keemat'. Hence CGSI assists consumers to obtain value for money (in terms of P.Q.R.S i.e Performance, Quality, Reliability and Service). The 'value' of a product is not just the money paid (or its cost in monetary worth) but the total P.Q.R.S which constitutes real value. What is Consumer Guidance Society of India? What is its importance? The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) helps consumers (whether a member or not) to be aware of their rights (and responsibilities as well) and assert them in the market place. CGSI assists consumers in obtaining redressal for grievances against goods and service providers. CGSI offers indicatory help in sorting out complaints about defective products or deficiency in services and renders legal consultation to consumers for obtaining redressal in the consumer courts. In addition,
    • CGSI also provides access to consumer oriented information through education and training for various groups of consumers. It tests products and publishes results in 'Keemat'. Hence CGSI assists consumers to obtain value for money (in terms of P.Q.R.S i.e Performance, Quality, Reliability and Service). The 'value' of a product is not just the money paid (or its cost in monetary worth) but the total P.Q.R.S which constitutes real value. What is Consumer Guidance Society of India? What is its importance? The Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI) helps consumers (whether a member or not) to be aware of their rights (and responsibilities as well) and assert them in the market place. CGSI assists consumers in obtaining redressal for grievances against goods and service providers. CGSI offers indicatory help in sorting out complaints about defective products or deficiency in services and renders legal consultation to consumers for obtaining redressal in the consumer courts. In addition, CGSI also provides access to consumer oriented information through education and training for various groups of consumers. It tests products and publishes results in 'Keemat'. Hence CGSI assists consumers to obtain value for money (in terms of P.Q.R.S i.e Performance, Quality, Reliability and Service). The 'value' of a product is not just the money paid (or its cost in monetary worth) but the total P.Q.R.S which constitutes real value.
    • When was CGSI started and tell us about its progress over the years. The Consumer Guidance Society of India(CGSI) pioneered the consumer movement in the country. It was born out of the melting pot of food adulteration and harmful food additives, spurious and hazardous drugs, quality defects and quantity deficiencies of consumer goods, shoddy services, rising prices coupled with endemic shortages, black marketing and its alter ego, profiteering by a group of nine housewives who took the initiative in founding CGSI in 1966. When it assessed the safety and performance of domestic pressure stoves, two-thirds of the samples failed in safety parameters. This gave rise to the concept of product testing in 1977. Many other products were tested and the reports were published in the society's monthly journal 'Keemat'. Keemat is now in its 32nd year of publication and is the only consumer magazine in India to be published regularly every month. CGSI does not accept advertisements in its magazine nor donations from business houses in order to maintain its independence from spheres likely to influence its decision making process. CGSI is a full member of Consumers International, the oldest Indian member and is also on the council of international body since 1973. It was through CGSI's initiatives, the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, was enacted, which is a unique legislation among the statutes in force. The well-intentioned Consumer Protection Act was not able to fulfil its professed objective due to the complexity of the regular judicial system. The question facing CGSI is: Is our 2000 and odd members an indicator of consumer apathy, lack of focus or want of strategic planning? Or does it mean that CGSI is unable to offer, 'value for membership'? The future seeks answer from the present by learning from the past. What types of complaints do you come across from consumers? Some of the complaints resolved during October'02-March'03 were regarding Railway refund, overcharging by milk vendors, drug stores, milk adulteration, medical case papers not given,etc. There were also complaints regarding a famous detergent, masala and tea packets of being short weight. Soft drink bottles with foreign substances like gutkha empty pouch, misleading gift offers by famous insect killer, horoscope not
    • received inspite of payment, branded cloth shoes were torn and given for repair, door of a famous Refrigerator brand rusted, refund not received for cancelled flight from a reputed airline, Damaged door of famous car manufacturers at time of purchase, defective furniture, computers, audio cassettes, xerox machines, floor tiles and more. Counterfeit goods, which were once shoddy imitations of the real thing, are today almost indistinguishable to the lay consumer from the genuine article. This is the world of Counterfeit goods! According to market researchers, A.C Nielsen 10% to 30% of the cosmetics, toiletries and packaged food are counterfeit, 61% of computer software and 40% of music cassettes sold are pirated, the FMCG segment alone loses about Rs.18000 crore due to counterfeiting. How can you help to get redressal for consumers who come with complaints to you? In the initial stage we try to mediate between the consumer and the goods and service provider. In case that does not happen which occurs in around 25% to 30% of the cases complained then we help them in drafting a complaint to the consumer court, which is commonly called the Consumer Court. These consumer courts have specialized judicial authorities set up by the Act of Parliament at different levels to redress complaints in a speedy and economical manner. How is consumer protection looked after in India and how is it compared to the developed countries? India must be proud, as it is one of the very few countries, which has got the Law of Consumer Protection. This law followed UN
    • convention on Consumer Protection taken from the given guidelines of consumer protection which was adopted by the parliament within one day from the presentation in the parliament in 1986. The system is good, unfortunately the reality is that because of the large number of cases filed and the lack of infrastructure, the cases get choked and therefore do not get quick justice. How can one get help in case of deficiency in services like inferior services for example? Inferior services are also included in the definition of Consumer Rights and the only question is that the consumer must first take the complaint himself to the service provider and if he doesn't get redressed then he must approach the consumer guidance society or any such other bodies in the country who can intervene on their behalf and finally go to the court How does C.G.S.I. help in curbing unethical practices? When unethical practices result harm to consumers economically then we intervene. We also have the class action suits i.e you can file public interest litigation as a consumer body. That facility we have at our command but that is only expensive and there is delay.
    • It is quite rampant in areas of education where you are given a lot of false promises by institutes about job guarantees. These are redressals which are quite difficult to address. Does education also come under the purview of C.G.S.I? Absolutely! Education is one of the services recognized as a consumer right and any deficiency in that can be taken to the consumer court. They are well defined like medical negligence Education comes under our Consumer Law. Unfortunately the sufferers, who are aggrieved don't come and expose themselves . What are the other similar bodies? How do they differ in their roles? C.G.S.I. is the oldest consumer body in the country. The other body in Mumbai called the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, mainly engages in the distribution of essential goods like household requirements. The other organisation specializing in medical negligence cases is Association for Consumers Action on Safety and Health (ACASH). These specialize in medical negligence with health issues but this requires integration of expert doctors. All the above mentioned organizations are in Mumbai. There are similar bodies in Delhi and Chennai.
    • What role does the government play in encouraging consumer protection? There is a Consumer Welfare Fund - the money which has come from various sources such as the unjust enrichment of a certain pharmaceutical company. The money invested in consumer welfare fund comes to the registered consumer organizations by way of projects or even consumer education or product testing. Some consumer bodies like ours show our products in the market place and we test them. How effective or powerful is your intervention in grievance redressal? In other words what percentage of the people do get the redressal? About 70% success is there especially those organizations, which are actually consumer friendly. They try to settle the matter across the table but there are certain cases where a suit has to be filed and then pursued in court. This amounts to almost 30% of the complaints received. By and large the majority of issues are settled by our mediation. What are the consumer rights? The Consumer Protection Act 1986 lays down the following
    • rights to promote and protect the interests of the consumers: The Right to Safety The Right to be Informed The Right to Choose The Right to be Heard The Right to Redress The Right to Consumer Education The Right to a Healthy Environment The Right to Satisfaction of Basic Needs What way consumer can play his role to get his rights protected? First, he must be aware of his rights. He must be alert of what is happening in the market place. After all that he must know how to get redressal. Redressal is already understood by the consumer bodies and if he is unsuccessful on his own, approach the consumer guidance body and then if the consumer bodies also fail they will tell him to go to court. We often hear of rights for the consumer - the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to
    • choose and the right to be heard. Equally important, however, are the responsibilities of the consumer. Some of these are: To become an alert and well informed buyer of goods. To think before buying without being influenced merely by sales talk or advertisement. To protest in writing when there is a cause for complaint and to keep on protesting till redressal is obtained Not to be afraid to speak the truth when cited as a witness.] How is going to a consumer court simpler then going to the other courts? The consumer court is so simple because you need not hire the services of a lawyer. A complaint can be filed on plain paper and must cover the following: Name and address of the complaint in full. Name and address of the parties against whom you intend complaining. Time, place and cause of complaint
    • Particulars in detail, along with supporting documents as exhibits in Marathi, Hindi or English. If the company against whom you are complaining is in another territory outside Maharashtra then make the complaint in English. Three copies of the complaint together with all the annexures for the forum and extra sets for each of the opponents should be filed. Relief claimed by you should be in clear words: Replacement/ Removal of defect or return price, compensation for expenses incurred as well as physical/mental torture, if any. The claim amount should be within reasonable limits and justifiable. Three copies of the complaint together with all the annexures for the forum, and extra sets for each of the opponents should be filed plus one extra for the office and one for your own self and everything else will be done by the Registrar of the court. No lawyers are necessary. And you avoid the inconvenience of receiving adjournments which is the case in Courts. In what way can consumer get redressal for deficiency in service? What are various services covered under consumer protection? Consumers who complain allow themselves to be brainwashed into believing that they are troublemakers. Consumers must not hesitate about complaining against adulteration, sub-standard drugs and cosmetics, shoddy product quality, unsatisfactory after sales service. Indian consumers are fortunate to be covered by the Consumers Protection Act 1986. Special consumer courts
    • and a Directorate to implement the Act insist that the weight, price, date of manufacture and ingredients are marked on all packages. This Act as well as the “Agmark” and the “ISI” mark, can be of substantial assistance in the fight for consumer's rights. Guidelines as to how to complain are as follows: The complaint must be sound and it must be presented politely. Preserve cash memos and warranty card. First approach the retailer, he may have a valid explanation. If he is unresponsive, write to the manufacturer, quoting No. and date of cash memo, No. and date of Warranty Card. Retain all originals and keep copies of your letters. In cases of suspected food and drug adulteration, write to the state health authority. Retain samples where possible. If products with ISI and AG mark certification perform poorly, write to the respective agency. ISI certification guarantees replacement. If there is no response, write to the Consumer Guidance Society of India, Block 'J' Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 400001 or any other consumer society you know of. Don't give up if your complaint is valid. Stand your ground. If a consumer organisation is unable to get your complaint redressed, you may complain to your District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum if your compensation complain is below Rs 5 lakhs; to the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission if your claim is between Rs.5 lakhs and Rs.20 lakhs. If your claim exceeds this amount you will have to refer your complaint to the
    • National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at New Delhi. Ex: Mr A purchased a VCR in August 1989 for Rs.15300. Soon after it developed defects in recording and reproduction. The company's service engineer could not repair the defects and recommended that the VCR be replaced. However the replacement was delayed on various pretexts. Eventually, Mr. A filed a case in the district forum which passed an order for VCR replacement plus Rs 2000 compensation to Mr. A. The company appealed to the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. As 5 years had elapsed since the VCR problem, the same model could not be replaced. Therefore the commission decided that Mr. A be given a refund of Rs.15300 plus interest at 12% between purchase and payment dates. Which are the various organizations abroad like CGSI is here in India? Fortunately abroad there are very powerful organizations. There is a Consumers Union in US, Consumers Association in UK, another similar association in Netherlands whose membership is in millions. One can imagine 4 million members in Consumers Union in USA speak in one voice representing so many million people. Whereas we, the oldest organizations here have a membership of just 2250! Another advantage, which they have, is that they do product testing and when they do product testing they publish those findings,. They have so much database with
    • them that they can do that. We have also done a few analysis. We recently tested 'mithai', which was published in the newspapers and gave the name of the parties, who were infected by food poisoning and bacteria by consuming the product. The main thrust of the consumer bodies is to test the products and expose, not only the products but also the services. The rights of the Consumer are P.Q.R.S (Performance, Quality, Reliability, and Service) - that should be the motto of everyone How does C.G.S.I connect to its counter parts in India and world over? We have got worldwide participation of consumer bodies just for Consumers International. It is a worldwide body which has about 4 million members from 115 countries which formed this Consumer International. Few of our Indian organizations are members. Recently in October we had a World Congress also and we are affiliated to them as a consumer body. We get lot of access to information abroad. We can also make representations in UN assemblies which are called Health Assemblies. Recently there was an assembly for anti-tobacco measures. So there are ways of getting access to worldwide exposure. .
    • How did you happen to join this movement? I was drawn in the consumer movement since 1978 because of my technical background. Initially, I advised the complaints committee and Testing Committee on technical aspects. Later, I joined the Testing Committee of which subsequently I became the Chairman (in October 1995 till end 1997). In 1996 I was elected to the Chairman's position of the Society (till 1998). What is your role in this organisation? I am a member of the managing committee and act as a scientific Advisor continuing to be on the testing committee. I also edit the 'Keemat' magazine for the past six years. In what way a citizen can play his role to strengthen consumer movement? My message to the consumers is to support the consumer movement either as active members or joining the committees of various societies, consumer guidance bodies or spreading the message of consumerism. Consumerism does not mean buying consumer goods, it means knowing your rights to protect yourself as consumers.
    • How would you define an alert consumer? An alert consumer must first of all know his own rights and how to exercise his rights. He should not be afraid of exercising his rights, because it will be a threat to his economic prosperity. He must exercise his rights without fear of fear. Your message to readers Remember, you have the power to cast your vote in the market place through your purse. Do not be short changed, be aware of what you buy. Read the label carefully because the label is an important document informing the buyer of the price, manufacturing/ packaging date, or best before/expiry, storage instructions, key ingredients, contradictions if any, name /address of manufacturers etc. Do not make a purchase decision on impulse. Buy what you must in quantities that you need. Be careful of discounts, sale, free gifts and other promotional gimmicks. Do not be swayed by advertisements (particularly children). Boycott if there is black marketing of goods. The right to Boycott is an important consumer right. Advertising tactics are even done by services such as taxis and auto-rickshaws. You can teach them a lesson by walking that extra kilometer- good for your physical fitness. Finally support the consumer movement
    • with your active participation, by enrolling as member and contributing your time, expertise, knowledge and committee work.