The Consumer Protection Act 1986 was enacted by the Government of India. In the past several decades, there has been a movement to safeguard the interests of the customer. This has become to be known as consumerism. It was developed as a reaction to businesses ignoring the rights of consumers and exploiting them. Issues of safety were raised, particularly in the case of motor cars. The following four consumer rights have been accepted as basic consumer rights.
(A) The right to safety.
(B) The right to be informed.
(C) The right to choose.
(D) The right to be Heard.
Under this Act, a consumer, as an individual or along with other individuals, or through a consumer organization, can approach the various forums prescribed under the Act for redress, in case he is not satisfied with the goods or service provided. He has to allege a defect in the goods or service. A defect or deficiency is a fault, imperfection, shortcoming or inadequacy in the quality, nature or manner of performance, which is required to be maintained by or under any law or in pursuance of a contract or understanding in relation to that service.
In order to attend to complaints under this Act, consumer dispute redressal forums are to be established in each District and for each State. The forum at the District level will hear complaints up to the value of Rs.5,00,000 and the forum at the State level will hear complaints up to the value of Rs.20,00,000. There is a provision also for the constitution of a National Commission, which will attend to matters beyond the jurisdiction of the State forums and also appeals against the decisions of a State forum.
The COPA applies to the insurance business as well. Policyholders have the right to seek redress against unfair practices or unsatisfactory service from insurers and from agents. The majority of disputes relating to insurance arise out of repudiation and delays in claims. On all these matters, agents can help a great deal to mitigate the complaint or grievance. A written presentation is a sure method of ensuring that the correct information is given. Delays in-office procedures can be avoided through the agent’s personal intervention. Such delays occur often due to non-compliance with requirements or proposal and all material information supplied, there cannot be a repudiation of a claim.
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