CONSUMER


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She is a tourist from Australia. Looking at television advertisements, Ms Sophia visited the big and reputed jewellery show room. She did not know of the catastrophe in store for her. Inside the glamorous jewellery show room, she was invited to get her ears pierced. The young woman naturally was persuaded. She got her ears pierced in the glitterous jewellery show room. Disastrously she contracted perichondritis. An ear disease, also called ‘cauliflower ear’. The young woman had a permanent cosmetic damage on the ear. All doctors and hospitals who worked on her could only pump her with over three types of antibiotics. But none could give her solace for trauma of mind. Nor could she get any relief from jeweler. She had to leave country in three weeks’ time. That was her vacation gone in misery. Consumer action committee could only blame Sophia. Because innocent Sophia could not maintain all five documents that proved her visit to jewellery. Well, all should know that “all that glitters is not gold”.

Mr Sundharan is at a far flung place, but his phone charger was lost. He purchased for substantial cost, a new phone charger. But same day itself, the electric connection began tripping, every time he charged the phone. Wire and adaptor were faulty. It had short circuited. But vendor was stubborn and adamant.

Vendor, verbally abused Mr.Sundharan and claimed, the fault was voltage surge in room. So no replacement! One most expensive dress watch had a manufacturing fault. Vendor in Bangalore, demanded from customer that, watch be surrendered to this vendor. It will take him one month for watch to be sent to Delhi and part to be brought from Switzerland. But in meantime, no tracking of journey of watch is possible. He told Mr Hameed to simply trust this vendor. Hameed is now vulnerable as the risks are upon him. Vendor refused to even indulge a senior officer for personal discussion. The above three cases, though have genuineness of purchase established, yet consumer is made helpless.

If, you have used credit cards extensively, then you may have experienced arrogant behavior from vendor. Of course many such vendors use powerful words and jargon to silence the gullible consumer. Many banking practices almost look like harassment to needy consumers. A very simple mistake on literacy or of documentation on part of consumer is adequate reason for vendor to admonish, demolish and devour the resources of the consumer.

You may have had many instances, where government bureaucracy has failed to deliver expected services. Do you have any access to recourse? Any place where there is an effective action, upon registering your grief? You may have felt mercilessly brutalized by bureaucracy. But, where can you file a complaint? Any redressal machinery? In India, as a consumer of a product, or a government service, you are on receiving end of vendor arrogance. Is vendor arrogance justified? Have you, as a consumer normalized this vendor arrogance and their brutality? Unfortunately, consumer courts too, have become complicated. Many consumer courts have cases piled upon like normal courts.

Do we have solution? The consumer activism will be the beginning. Social media has potential to unionize the consumer. Consumer can primarily decide to post grievances on social media, about distasteful behavior of the vendor. Consumer activist can collect documents of harassment and then question, integrity and credibility of the brand of the watch, the phone charger and the branded jewellery shop. The application must be downloaded and activated, those that invite victims of unfair trade practices. Reach out to shopper, buyers and consumers. Engage advocates and be proactive to register your complaints.

Last week the newspapers reported the case of a postman from Surathkal. He was busted, though accidentally in an unconnected inspection. But to everybody’s horror and shock, in his house was bundled seven thousand documents that should have been delivered to the addressee. The postman Ashok dumped the letters in his own house for five years. We can only see things in hind sight and sympathise with those grieving losses. Many emergency urgent and important documents were found undelivered to addressee. The postman currently is under suspension. But pain of those whose tenders, documents and other devices were unanswered, cannot be assessed or compensated.

It is disheartening to see that private sector in business is also beginning to show sign of a cartel and is on offensive, on the consumer. All brands that have chain of franchisees or even own showrooms are well fortified against consumer knocks. Senior officers are hidden behind the cover of many unassuming junior sales people. These junior sales people are convinced that in front ending for the brand, they have to protect the brand image at any cost.

The interface at the point of purchase, that is at the place of sale has a camouflage. The lights, smiles and careful handling of a visitor who strays in to a show room, is filled with lures, and other welcoming baits. Do not be startled if this selling strategy wreaks of tacts from the study of ambush. The seller must clean up their clan and clique, from being offensive and intimidating upon consumers. Consumer must seek after sale services. The buyer must detest insincere and cunning vendors and brands.

The trend of future, is consumers to come together. The consumer must be able to identify the carteling behaviours of owners. Consumer education may graduate to acquire ability to challenge the unjust vendor coterie.Indian consumer will become alert to vendor and brand, that suppresses consumer concern. As is evident, many sellers are perfecting the art of constructing multiple layers of technology buffer, to protect their spurious practices and deceitful harvests. For healthy business relations, it is important to cultivate a loyal consumer base. And that cannot happen if vendor and seller brands show tendencies to demonise consumers. Let us begin this conversation. Let us come together in an agreement that this topic has the merit. Let us take initiative because this cause of relationship between the seller and buyer is a worthy one. Trust in transaction is the foundation of healthy business tradition.

Let us enable, the civilization of trade, to flourish. The bonding of all stake holders in market place needs attention and care. To thrive a culture of good, after- sale service is paramount. Best wishes to all from a business tradition. Certainly sellers are organized and therefore can control consumer behavior. Retailer organizations and vendor associations are equipped to impose their diktat. But same people will crave for warmth and friendliness when they become consumers. So it is time to learn the craft of consumer vigil.

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