Topic: ‘CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT’
Date: 9th February,2022.
Speaker: Dr. Deva Prasad M, faculty member at IIM – Kozhikode
Highlights: Dr. Deva Prasad shared the entire consumer law with interesting and practical examples that have occurred in the Indian Context in recent few years. He began his session by posing a question that ‘If my laptop gets crashed in a week of purchase or if I have purchased a product from bank and I am not provided proper online banking services, as a consumer what are my rights?’ He quoted a very interesting example where in a valet parking of Taj Hotel – Mumbai, the car of a customer was stolen and in a prolonged legal battle Taj Hotel was held responsible for negligence though in the parking tag it was mentioned that ‘Park at owner’s risk’ and the car owner was compensated by Taj Hotel. He gave another example of a footwear brand where the brand charged an excess of Rs 3 for the paper bag with the name written on it accompanied with the product. It was held that, this is a part of advertisement and if it’s a bag without any logo or name then only it can charge. Further he talked about misleading advertisements leading to Unfair Trade Practices. He cited the example of cosmetic brand which claimed that the complexion of the customer will change within 15 days which is a false claim and it can be sued. Another false warranty claim by an advertisement mentioning Zero Sugar in the food item which actually meant Low Calorie Sweetener is also misleading. Further, he discussed the concept of Disparaging Advertisements whereby he showed the advertisement of Amul whereby it claimed its brand as an ice-cream and rest all brands of competitors as a frozen dessert. Bombay High Court held that showing competitors in bad light is a negative way of promoting your product. Whereas, Amul in the counter argument stated they were merely educating the customer about the frozen dessert category. In a very informative way, he shared the Ecommerce Rules, 2020 whereby before the rules, E-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart used to run away by saying that we are just a market place where we bring the buyer and seller on the same platform. But it was contended in a resounding judgement that the Ecommerce Companies have a fall-back liability whereby they are held responsible for the transactions taking place online. The concept of Surrogated Advertising was also highlighted by the Speaker where the Alcoholic Beverage Companies try to advertise alcohol behind the Soda Water. In the context of Sports and Entertainment events, this kind of surrogated advertisements are common and it misleads the youth. He also mentioned that Celebrities endorsing the products like Crypto currencies, liquor, tobacco can be held responsible as per the amendment of Consumer Protection Act, 2019. So, they have to be very careful and need to verify the details before entering into an agreement.