Guidelines for consumer

Satisfied Consumer --- Prosperous Society

Human beings formulate a society. Everyone loves to live in a peaceful, calm, flourishing and prosperous society. History transpires; human race always depended on each other for necessities of life and day to day work and that dependence led to formulation of a society.
Every individual adopts some profession for his livelihood. Either he renders some kind of services or part of profession, rendering services (e.g. medical, engineering, legal, educational, architectural, transportation, cargo, courier, public utilities etc.), or adopts occupations like agriculture, trade, industrial and manufacturing businesses for the provision of all kinds of products from soap to clothing, from needle to airplanes, from eatables to electronics and other household items or any kind of products. In this scenario all human beings are “CONSUMERS” who avail different kind of services or use products in their daily life.

In a society, every person has rights and corresponding to those rights liabilities and obligations are imposed on others. Now, as a matter of fact if all human beings carry out their liabilities and duties in smooth and lawful manner according to norms and laws laid down by the society then this world will become a heaven. On the other hand, when people desires to avail their rights at the best but do not carry out their duties accordingly or work in negligent manner then they causes chaos for their fellow people which results in a fidgety society.

In the world, those societies are considered to be ideal ones where consumer rights are given preference and protection in true sense. In 1985, United Nations Organization approved resolution No. 39/248 recognizing eight basic rights of consumers which are as under;

  • Right of protection.
  • Right of representation.
  • Right of compensation.
  • Right of information.
  • Right of healthy environment.
  • Right to choose.
  • Right to basic necessities.
  • Right of education.

Pakistan, being a member state of the UNO, adopted the said resolution. The sphere of the consumer protection being a provincial subject fell to the domain of Provincial Government. Hence, Punjab Government has taken a landmark welfare oriented step for the protection and promotion of consumer rights and interests by enacting Punjab Consumer Protection Act, 2005 and enforcing it in true letter and spirit. As a first step, Consumer Courts and District Consumer Protection Councils have been established in eleven districts of the province to deliver justice to the consumers at their door step. Under the said Act “Authority” has been vested in the District Coordination Officer of every District to enforce the Act and provide remedy to the public at large against defective products and faulty services.

In this regard, following setup has been established under the Punjab Consumer Protection Act (PCPA), 2005;

  • Punjab Consumer Protection Council’s Secretariat Office, 135-J, Model Town, Lahore.
  • District Consumer Protection Councils.
  • District Consumer Courts.
  • Authority (DCO of each district of the Province).

It is advisable to Consumers to observe following canons to protect their rights:

  • Always check manufacturing and expiry dates of the products. (Section-11, PCPA, 2005).
  • At all times makes it a habit to read ingredients / component parts of the product. (Section-11, PCPA, 2005).
  • To insist on rate list / price catalogue of goods, from manufacturer / trader. (Section-18, PCPA, 2005).
  • Always insist on and get receipt of goods purchased. (Section-19, PCPA, 2005).
  • In case of hiring services, it’s the right of consumer to ask for the capabilities or qualifications of the provider of the service along with the quality of the products he intends to use for provision of the service. (Section-16, PCPA, 2005).

If any service provider or manufacturer / trader do not fulfill above narrated consumer’s rights, Authority (DCO), on receipt of complaint, has power to fine him up to fifty thousand rupees (Rs-50000/-).
On the other, if a consumer suffered with some damage caused by a product or service, he has right to claim damages / compensation. For this purpose following simple steps have been devised for the convenience of public at large;

  • First of all, serve a fifteen days legal notice, on plain paper, to the provider of faulty services or defective products as the case may be. Stating therein that he will redress the damage suffered by consumer due to faulty service or defective product and consequently pays damages to the consumer within fifteen days of receipt of legal notice. Otherwise the consumer can file a claim for damages in the Consumer Court in this regard. (Section-28, PCPA, 2005).
  • The legal notice to be served through registered post or courier service and keep receipt of it along with photocopy of the legal notice with you for further proceedings if needed.
  • If the matter does not resolve through legal notice and grievance exists then consumer can file a claim for damages in the Consumer Court along with photocopies of national identity card, legal notice, receipt of registered post or courier service regarding legal notice, any receipt / document regarding product / service. (Section-25, PCPA, 2005).
  • The claim can be filed by the consumer himself or through a lawyer. In case of hiring lawyer it is advisable to attach certificate of lawyer’s fee along with claim so it can also be awarded back at the time of decision of claim in favor of consumer.
  • According to the section-30 (5) of the Punjab Consumer Protection Act, 2005, “The Consumer Court shall decide the claim within six months after the service of summons on the respondent”.
  • According to section 23 (2) of the PCPA, 2005, the Authority (DCO) may file a claim before the Consumer Court for declaring a product defective or a service as faulty without proof of any damage actually suffered by a consumer but likely to be suffered.

Any consumer / person can contact any of the District Consumer Protection Council or Provincial Consumer protection Council for guidance and assistance in consumer related matters.

References from the Holy Quran Regarding Consumer Protection:

  • O you who believe! When you deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing. Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as Allah has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish any of what he owes. If the party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable himself to dictate, let his guardian dictate faithfully. And get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as you choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. The witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (for evidence). Disdain not to reduce to writing (your contract) for a future period, whether it be small or big: it is justice in the sight of Allah, more suitable as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves. But if it be a transaction which you carry out on the spot among yourselves, there is no blame on you if you reduce it not to writing. But take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract; and let neither scribe nor witness suffer harm. If you do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So fear Allah; for it is Allah that teaches you. And Allah is well acquainted with all things.
    (Surah 2 - Al Baqarah THE HEIFER, 282)
  • And come not near to the orphan's property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever you speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus does He command you, that you may remember.
    (Surah 6 - Al An'am THE CATTLE, 152)
  • "And O my people! give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due: commit not evil in the land with intent to do mischief.
    (Surah 11 -  Hud THE PROPHET HUD, 85)
  • Give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight: that is the most fitting and the most advantageous in the final determination.
    (Surah 17 - Al Isra' THE NIGHT JOURNEY, 35)
  • And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice), In order that you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance.
    (Surah 55 - Al Rahman THE MOST GRACIOUS, 7, 8, 9)
  • Woe to those that deal in fraud,- Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.
    (Surah 83 - Al Mutaffifin THE DEALERS IN FRAUD, 1, 2, 3)

 

Shahid Mahmood Butt, Assistant Director (Legal),
Directorate of Provincial Consumer Protection Council