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How to Protect Yourself from Unfair Trade Practices in India?

Many people are victims of unfair trade practices in India. However, not many people are aware about what is considered an unfair trade practice. An unfair trade practice refers to the use of various fraudulent, unethical or deceptive methods to obtain business. 

To maintain market integrity and consumer confidence, it is really important to ensure the prevalence of fair trade practices. For this, unfair trade practices must be reduced. For this consumer awareness is important, which includes knowing one’s rights as a consumer under the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

What are Unfair Trade Practices?

Unfair trade practice means a business practice wherein a manufacturer uses unfair methods or any fraudulent or deceptive practices for the promotion of his sale or services, which are prohibited by a legislation. To put it simply, illegal methods used by a business owner or seller to increase his profit by cheating and duping the customers through misleading information regarding quantity, quality, price, etc. of a product is known as an unfair trade practice. 

Unfair trade practices in India are not unheard of. In fact, they are pretty common. There are many sellers in the country who sell herbal products which ‘claim’ to make you grow taller, look slimmer or muscular. But in reality, these herbal products do not work at all. In fact, instead of doing good, they can take a toll on the health of consumers at times.

What are the Regulations to Protect Consumers from Unfair Trading?

At present, India Consumer Protection Act 2019 governs unfair trade practices in India and protects the rights of consumers. The term “consumer”, according to section 2(7) of the Act, refers to any person who buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such use is made with the approval of such person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose.

Until 2002, in cases of unfair trade practices, Metropolitan and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1969 was referred to. However, in 2002, the Act was repealed after the enforcement of the Competition Act 2002. As a result, all the cases of unfair trade practices were handled by the Competition Commission (CCI) for adjudication. 

However, the 2002 Act did not have any provision regarding unfair trade practices. Thus, all the unfair trade practices cases were dealt with under the jurisdiction of Consumer Protection Act 1986, which got replaced in 2019 by the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

Unfair Trade Practices In Consumer Protection Act

The term ‘Unfair Trade Practices’ has been defined in Section 2(47) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019. It means a trade practice which adopts any unfair methods or unfair or deceptive practice for the purpose of promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service. 

Unfair trade practices include making any statement, whether orally or in writing or by visible representation including by means of electronic record, which:

  • falsely represents that the goods are of a particular standard, quality, quantity, grade, composition, style or model;
  • falsely represents that the services are of a particular standard, quality or grade 
  • falsely represents any re-built, second-hand, renovated, reconditioned or old goods as new goods;
  • represents that the goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, accessories, uses or benefits which such goods or services do not have;
  • represents that the seller or the supplier has a sponsorship or approval or affiliation which such seller or supplier does not have;
  • makes a false or misleading representation concerning the need for, or the usefulness of, any goods or services;
  • gives to the public any warranty or guarantee of the performance, efficacy or length of life of a product or of any goods that is not based on an adequate or proper test thereof.

How can Consumers Prevent Becoming Victims of Unfair Trade Practices?

To prevent becoming victims of unfair trade, it is important for consumers to know what counts as unfair trade practices according to the Consumer Protection Act (which we have already discussed under the previous subheading.) Additionally, consumers must know the rights that they have as a consumer according to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2019. 

Rights of a Consumer under Consumer Protection Act 2019

In total, a consumer has 6 rights under the Consumer Protection Act 2019. All these 6 rights are included in Section 2(9) of the Act, which are stated below:

  • The first right of the consumer is the right to be protected from marketing of goods and services which are harmful and detrimental to their life and property.
  • The second right of the consumer is the right to be protected against unfair trade practices by being aware of the quantity, potency, purity, quality and value of goods/products/services.
  • The third right of the consumer is the right to have access to a variety of goods/services/products at competitive rates.
  • The fourth right of the consumer is the right to seek redressal at respective forums in case of unfair and restrictive trade practices.
  • The fifth right of the consumer is the right to to receive sufficient compensation or consideration from respective consumer forums if the seller has wronged them.
  • The sixth right of the consumer under the Act is the right to receive consumer education.

Conclusion

Many consumers have been victims of unfair trade practices due to false representation regarding the quality, content, standard of care packaging and designing by the manufacturers or business owners. However, if all the consumers know their rights under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and are aware about what is considered an unfair trade practice, the unfair trades practices in India can be prevented to a great extent.

Many consumer awareness events are held in India. Many times, we even come across “jago grahak jago” TV ads which create consumer awareness in the country. If you feel like any of your consumer rights have been violated, you should raise your voice against it.

By Kashish

Content writer with a diverse portfolio spanning various subjects. With a seasoned background, I have been crafting professional content since 2019.

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