Consumer Rights Protection
According to the Consumer Protection Act 1986, the consumer right is referred to as ‘right to be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property’. It is applicable to specific areas like healthcare, pharmaceuticals and food processing, this right is spread across the domain having a serious effect on the health of the consumers or their well-being viz. Automobiles, Housing, Domestic Appliances, Travel etc. When there is violation of the right then there occur medical malpractice lawsuits in the country. It is estimated every year that thousands or millions of citizens of Pakistan are killed or seriously injured by immoral practices by doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and the automobile industry. Still the government of Pakistan, known for its callousness, does not succeed in acknowledging this fact or making a feeble effort for maintaining statistics of the mishaps.
The consumer should be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling and has the right to be given the facts and information needed to make an informed choice. The right to information is defined as ‘the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services, as the case may be so as to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices’ in the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. In the market place of Pakistan, consumers get information by two ways namely advertising and word of mouth however these sources are considered to be unreliable but still this word of mouth is quite common here. Because of this, the Pakistani consumers hardly have precise and complete information for assessing the true value, safety, suitability, reliability of any product. Usually the hidden costs can be found, lack of suitability, quality problems and safety hazards only after the purchase of the product.
There is another right claimed by Pakistan government on paper, this right must ideally make sure that all consumable products have been labeled in a standard manner containing the cost, quantity, the ingredients and instructions given to use the product safely. It is unfortunate that even the medicines in the country do not follow a standardized labeling convention. There should be establishment of unit price publishing standards for consumer market where costs are revealed in standard units like per kg or per liter. The right to information gives the power to the consumers to have an easy access to information which is necessary for the consumer.
The term “consumerism” refers to the consumerist’s movement, consumer activism or consumer protection which seeks to defend and inform consumers by having required these practices as honest advertising and packaging, product guarantees, and enhanced standards of safety. In this regard it is a movement or an array of policies having a mission of regulating the products, methods, services, and standards of sellers, manufacturers and advertisers in the buyers’ interests.
As per economics, consumerism means economic policies laying emphasis on consumption. In a sense, it is believed that the consumers are free to make choice and should dictate the society’s economic structure.
The term “consumerism” had been first used in the year 1915 and referred to “advocacy of the rights and interests of consumers” defined in Oxford English Dictionary but here in this article the term “consumerism” means the sense which was first used in 1960, “emphasis on or preoccupation with the acquisition of consumer goods’.
Consumers should have the right to live and work in an environment which is neither threatening nor dangerous and which permits a life of dignity and well-being..