File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Unmasking Consumer Exploitation: From King To Pawn

Consumers who are considered kings of the market are being exploited by the producers or companies for their benefit. The producers or companies take undue advantage of consumers by cheating or giving them false information about products and services which can cause a consumer to suffer a severe loss. If the consumer is the market's king, why and how are they exploited? This question will be addressed further.

Before moving further, it is important to understand who consumers are. Not all those who buy or avail themselves of goods and services can be considered as consumers but those who consume are consumers.

Consumers under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019
According to Section 2(7) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, "CONSUMER" means 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; or
hires or avails of any services 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 beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires the services for consideration paid or promised, or partly paid and partly promised, or under any system of deferred payment, when such services are availed of with the approval of the first-mentioned person.
Thus, if any person either:
  1. buys any goods for consideration, or
  2. hires or avails of any services for a consideration is a consumer.

Consumer V. Customers
The consumer is the user of the goods it is commonly misconstrued with the term customer, a person who buys the goods/services and pays the price for it. Consumer and customer are two words often used interchangeably because most of the time, the customer will be the consumer. Consumers are not always the people who buy a product. For a better description, parents frequently buy toys for their children.

The parent is the customer in this case, and the child is the consumer. Another example is if a dog owner buys dog food or a dog toy, the person is the customer, and the dog is the consumer. The customer is the person who buys the product, and the consumer is the person who uses it for personal satisfaction. So, it can be concluded that not all customers who buy goods and services are consumers, sometimes they can be different people while sometimes the same.

Consumer a king
The consumer is king; this phrase reflects the importance of consumers in every business. A "king" does not want to be commanded. It is who commands. The same goes for the consumers; the marketers cannot command the consumers to buy their goods and services. It was Mahatma Gandhi who once said, 'A consumer is the most important visitor to our premises. He is not dependent on us; we are on him.

He is not an interruption to our work; he is the purpose of it. We are not doing a favor to a consumer by giving him an opportunity. He is doing us a favor by allowing us to serve him.' The consumer behaves like a king or queen in choosing out of those goods with his given money income. It means that the consumer decides to buy a product based on their beliefs of the quality, features, usefulness, and price of the product.

Based on consumer behavior, the marketing and production people design the product with the necessary features. But the consumer is the king of the market just to say. The real or true thing is the companies are incredibly good at influencing consumers. The products that exist in the market or the product they manufacture are not required by the customer, but the companies sell those products through attractive advertisements, and they influence the customers which make the consumer.

Truly the king of the market is the marketer as they sell the products and even after knowing the consumer that the marketer is cheating they ignore the fact that they are being cheated some are indifferent to going to consumer courts and consumer forums as in India there are political, social and many problems which can make a problem to the consumer if the consumer complaints against the company. The consumer is the king of the market, nevertheless, he is exploited.

Consumers Exploitation
Nowadays the market has become consumer oriented. Consumers have become increasingly significant. With the increase in production, many manufacturers have started using unfair means to sell their products. They victimize consumers in a certain way. We see many incidences where consumers are offered goods of poor quality, are charged more for a good or service, or the goods or services are not delivered to consumers, or businesses are making tall claims to the consumer about a product or service.

All of these cases are nothing more than businesses trying to exploit consumers in order to sell their goods or services and thus increase their profits. Consumers are rational human beings, but deception is something that they cannot control.

Consumer exploitation refers to situations where businesses or individuals take advantage of consumers in unfair or unethical ways, often for their financial gain. This can encompass a wide range of practices that may harm consumers, violate their rights, or deceive them. Consumers should spend a certain amount of money to get the best value, which involves good quality, quantity, costs, and product details.

On the other hand, many market behemoths take advantage of consumers through various forms of deceptive claims about their capabilities. The promise that a certain frying oil is cholesterol-free or that a certain product will cure baldness in days are two common instances. Some manufacturers develop low-quality products and do not fulfill the warranties that come with them if something goes wrong.

Consumer exploitation happens more commonly in rural areas, where consumers are less aware of their rights. In India, the exploitation of consumers has assumed serious proportions. The ever-increasing population and the widespread demand for goods and services, combined with a lack of matching supply, have resulted in a near seller's market. Consumers have very little bargaining power and thus cannot enforce their rights. Consumers invariably are very vulnerable to exploitation, more so with the prevalence of mass poverty and illiteracy in a developing country.

India too is not an exception to it. Instances like black marketing, adulteration, and overcharging are very rampant, and talking about them seems to be platitudinous. Why is a consumer cheated? Why is he exploited? The above questions are worrisome. Consumer exploitation exists due to various economic, social, and psychological factors that can lead businesses or individuals to take advantage of consumers.

Some key reasons include:
  • Information asymmetry: In many transactions, sellers own more information than buyers leading to an unequal balance of power. This can result in consumers making uninformed decisions, allowing sellers to manipulate prices, quality, or terms.
  • Profit maximization: Some businesses prioritize profits above ethical considerations, driving them to cut corners, use subpar materials, or engage in deceptive advertising to save costs and maximize their gains.
  • Psychological manipulation: Businesses often use psychological tactics such as marketing, advertising, and production presentation, to manipulate consumer beliefs, needs, and desires, encouraging them to make purchases they might not need or want.
  • Cultural and social influences: Societal pressures and cultural norms can contribute to consumer exploitation. For example, the desire to keep up with trends or support a certain image may lead consumers to overspend on products or services they cannot afford.
  • Digital exploitation: In the digital age, personal data is a valuable commodity. Companies may exploit consumer data without their knowledge or consent leading to privacy concerns and potential manipulation.
  • Complex pricing and contracts: Businesses can exploit consumers through complex pricing strategies, hidden fees, and convoluted terms and conditions that make it difficult for consumers to fully understand the cost or implications of the purchase.
  • Lack of alternatives: In some cases, consumers may not have many alternative options, allowing businesses to exploit their limited choices by charging higher prices or supplying lower-quality products or services.
  • Duplicate items: Many merchants pass off their wares as branded goods. They alter the quality and material and add the names and logos of various brands. In business, this involves misinformation and unethical behavior.
  • Adulteration: It is one of the most heinous examples of consumer exploitation. It results in monetary loss and harms a person's health. Unwanted ingredients are combined into meals, causing damage to the person and the growth of various diseases.
  • Inadequate after-sales service: A vendor handles supplying after-sales service to their customers. Manufacturing and selling are not the only activities that must be accomplished; if a consumer experiences a problem with a product after using it, the problem must be heard and settled.

Adulteration, inferior quality, variations in the contents of the pack, use of deceptive or fractional weights, misleading and dishonest advertisements, and unfair monopolistic and restrictive trade practices are the methods and means by which the consumer is taken advantage of to the maximum extent possible. We are all consumers. It is important to understand the causes of exploitation in an effort to stop being exploited.

It is only after knowing the reasons by which we can find out the ways to save ourselves from exploitation. Efforts to combat consumer exploitation involve stronger consumer protection laws, regulatory oversight, transparency in business practices, public awareness campaigns, consumer advocacy groups, improved financial literacy, and ethical business practices.

Negative Impact on the Marketers after Consumer Exploitation
Exploiting consumers will also negatively affect the marketers or the companies.
  1. Fines and Penalties:
    When a consumer complains about any exploitation that the brand has done to them and they submit proof, the consumer forum imposes a fine on the company. Generally, these fines are heavy, and they are even asked to write letters of public apology.
  2. Legal action against the owner:
    The penalty that a business can receive is not limited to fines and penalties, but it can also lead to imprisonment or the shutdown of a business. It depends on the intensity of the crime being committed.
  3. Goodwill is directly affected:
    When a company is doing something to exploit its consumers, the consumers and the community end up losing faith in the company. The company has had no goodwill or a good name, and it has received a lot of negative publicity.
  4. Consumers boycott the brand altogether:
    If one branch of the umbrella brand does something wrong that the company holds. Consumers are boycotting the brand and all of its goods.
  5. Long-term survival is in shambles:
    Companies can exploit consumers once and make more profit and sales, but the bitter experience that they create will lead to the consumer never going back to the brand and spreading negative word of mouth about the company. Because of a zero or weak consumer base, the company will not be able to survive in the market.

Consumer happiness is the most important role of any organization. There is no point in having a business if you don't have it. All marketing and business actions are carried out solely to benefit consumers. If consumers are dissatisfied with the company's goods and services, it will be unable to progress and grow. As a result, in order to prevent consumer exploitation, end-user rights and opinions must be respected.

Consumer Awareness:
There are times when the competitive market scenario leads to companies engaging in what we call "malpractices", or practices that help the business at the consumer's cost. These could be misleading advertisements - for example, the brand's promotion calling it a sugar-free snack when it's not sugar-free � or even manufacturing a product that has life-threatening ingredients - for example, excessive amounts of lead were detected in Nestle's Maggi noodles, an international noodles and seasoning brand. Consumers must've been aware of their rights in need to shield themselves from said misconduct. This would allow them to protect themselves from any misconduct in the role of the producer or seller.

Consumer awareness is the act of taking appropriate action against marketplace exploitation by getting to know enough about the goods and services one uses up and exercising one's consumer rights. The process of customer awareness requires government intervention as a matter of public welfare. This essential requirement successfully educates a consumer about their rights and responsibilities for the sole purpose of protecting them from possible marketplace exploitation.

The emphasis is on making information and redressal options available. It is critical to be open and honest with consumers because they are the measurement tool of a marketing campaign's success or failure. Increasing consumer awareness will help prevent consumers from falling prey to unscrupulous acts like shady marketing schemes.

The following are a few points that emphasize the essence of consumer awareness. consumer awareness:
  • Allows a consumer to gain maximum satisfaction at the lowest cost possible.
  • Protects consumers in a marketplace from different kinds of exploitation committed by producers and sellers.
  • Protects a consumer from consuming massive quantities of harmful products.
  • Encourages a consumer to save rather than spend a bit.
  • It helps consumers to solve problems regarding their purchases as they grow more aware of redressal mechanisms.
  • Consumer awareness is essential as it can help the buyer make the right decision and the right choice. It also implies that the consumers have the right to information, and the right to choose.

Consumer Rights:

According to the Government of India, the following pointers encourage consumer awareness and safeguard their rights in India:
  1. Right to Safety
  2. Right to be Informed
  3. Right to Choose
  4. Right to be Heard
  5. Right to Seek Redressal
  6. Right to Consumer Education

It's important to note that while consumers play a vital role in the market, the metaphor of "kings" also implies a certain level of responsibility which is listed below:
  • Obligation to be conscious: Before purchasing goods or services, a consumer must take into account the product's safety and quality.
  • Responsibility to think independently: Consumers should be concerned about what they want and need and make their own decisions.
  • Responsibility to speak out: Buyers must not be hesitant to voice their displeasure and tell sellers exactly what they want. But it shouldn't be out of spite, and they should use their free speech conscientiously.
  • Responsibility to complain: The consumer's responsibility is to voice and file complaints about goods or services truthfully and fairly.
  • Responsibility to be an ethical consumer: They should be honest and not indulge in dishonest behavior.
  • Responsibility to ask for cash memo: To return the product or file a complaint, you need an invoice. It proves that the consumer purchased and paid for the good or service. A seller is usually responsible for providing a cash memo at the time of purchase, but if he does not, you can ask one and secure your purchases.
  • Responsibility to carefully read and follow the instructions: Every product comes with manuals, instructions, and a how-to-use guide. A consumer must read such instructions carefully before using the product or service. Often consumer negligence and irresponsible behavior lead to injury, and product breakage.

To conclude, Consumers are rational human beings, but deception is something that they cannot control. These days, it looks like everyone is out to make a fast buck. The consumer is often the one who must shoulder the burden until they realize what's happening and take measures to protect themselves. This can be done by providing them with complete information about the good or service that is being sold as well as consumer rights and responsibilities.

This paper is an enumeration of the consumers who are being exploited by marketers for maximizing profits. It is the time that exploiting their consumers is not a point of differentiation that they can create for the brand's survival. Exploiting consumers will also have negative impacts on the marketers or the companies.

Good consumer relationships can only ensure long-term business and long-term survival for the company. Consumer exploitation will only create a negative experience for consumers while negatively impacting the country's economic growth.


Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly