My effort through GOACAN, a voluntary consumer organization, ask has primarily been to promote civic and consumer rights in Goa by creating awareness amongst consumers about their rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. We also tackle consumer complaints on a day-to-day basis.
We undertake this activity through various campaigns of Consumer Literacy, Road Safety & Traffic Management, Health & Sanitation, Right to Information, Legal and Human Rights Education and Waste Management.
We also hold programs on three important days of the year: 15th March (World Consumer Rights Day), 25th June (State Consumer Rights Day) and 24th December (National Consumer Rights Day).
Our efforts have also aimed at impacting both the private & government sectors with regard to having a Consumer Complaints Redressal System in place. In this direction we have concentrated on getting the primary stage of complaint redressal activated such as Complaint Books, Complaints Boxes, Helpline, Customer Care Officers /Grievance Redressal Officers, Open House Sessions and Adalats.
In most cases that we come across, we find the rights of the consumers being violated at the time of purchasing products in the markets and in getting good services. The consumers get cheated over the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) as there are many cases of over charging, being charged VAT or Tax although not allowed to do so, being sold duplicate or fake products, incorrect guarantee or warranty cards and non-issuing of a bill.
The issuing of bill seems to be a weapon used by the seller to hold the consumer to ransom, by citing the need to pay taxes, if you want a bill.
In the case of services, most complaints we get are in the case of cooking gas cylinder refills where the consumer is overcharged and not provided home delivery, although this is the rule. There also have often been cases wherein officials of the Electricity Department make the consumer buy the wire, although the Dept. has to provide it free of charge.
In the cases of purchase of flats / apartments, there are many cases of payments being made by the consumer but the builders not completing the construction. Even if completed, the flats/apartments are with many defects and no efforts are made by the builder to rectify these defects. Also, many builders do not execute the Sale Deed nor do they form a Housing Society. In several cases, even if Housing Societies are formed, the land on which the building stands is not transferred to the buyer, a flaw that impediments re-sale.
The way ahead for the Consumer is to be aware of the Right to be Informed, the Right to Complain and the Right to Redressal. Consumers must be proactive and get all the information about the product or service and must be bold to ask questions so as to get the relevant answers at the time of purchase.
All manufacturers and service providers are required by law to provide maximum opportunities for the consumer to complain or give feedback on products / services so that this facility can be used by the consumer.
The consumer must also be aware of the avenues for redressal of grievances like the Ombudsmen for Banks & Insurance Companies, the Consumer Concilliation Committee of the Department of Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs and the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums & Commission (commonly referred to as the Consumer Courts). See Box for ADDRESSES
Today, it can be said, that the consumer movement is growing as there are many village based Consumer Forums and now many Consumer Welfare Clubs / Cells in Schools, Higher Secondary Schools and Colleges. Also, many more consumers are coming forward to demand redressal of their complaints, although the pace at which the movement is growing is still slow. There is a need for greater awareness especially amongst the students, youth, women and senior citizens.
The awareness of a person’s Consumer Rights must also reach the grassroots level of the Village Panchayats with the involvement of the Anganwadi workers, Mahila Mandals and Self Help Groups (SHG). The role of the Official Language Department of the Govt. of Goa is important in making translations of various notifications, circulars and amendments to Acts & Rules in Konkani & Marathi which will in turn benefit the common man.
The Departments of Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Food & Drug Administration, Legal Metrology and Transport also need to increase their role in enforcement in all the talukas with the co-operation of the affected Consumer.
Departments like PWD & Electricity and Corporations like BSNL need to build better linkages with the Consumer for effective feedback so as to streamline their services and create better redressal systems so as to avoid long drawn litigations.
The print and audio visual media need to be partners in this journey of creating Consumer Awareness by providing better coverage for the Consumers’ viewpoint as well as providing important information to the reader.
Lastly the challenge of increasing the consumer literacy of the newspaper reader is the need of the hour so that the Consumer can effectively READ his RIGHTS and WRITE his COMPLAINTS.
Banking Ombudsman for Maharashtra and Goa
C/o Reserve Bank of India
Dr. Annie Besant Road,
Worli, Mumbai-400 018
Insurance Ombudsman for Maharashtra, Goa
MUMBAI, 3rd Flr., JeevanSeva Annexe, S.V. Road, Santa Cruz (W), MUMBAI – 400 054
(O) 022-26106928, 26106360
Goa State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission,
Junta House, 1st lift, 4th floor,
Panaji Goa. 403 001
Tel. No. 2222466.
District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (North Goa),
Flat no.F-F-1, Goa Housing Board,
Commercial-Cum-Residential Complex, Block No. A,
Alto Betim, Porvorim, Bardez-Goa – 403521.
District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (South Goa),
1st Floor, Blessings Pioneer Commercial Complex,
Opposite District Court, Old Market,
Margao, Goa. 403 601
Ph. No. 2713073