Got a complaint? Have it heard. In a first, the ministry of consumer affairs has brought together various regulators, big companies and industry bodies to facilitate the registration of consumer grievances on the spot and also enlighten them on their rights. Not just this, expect nukkad nataks on consumer awareness and cleanliness, and poster-making competitions by schoolchildren for the rest of the month to sensitise consumers.
With Diwali round the corner, when both sales of companies and complaints on products touch new highs almost every year, the consumer mela and other initiatives by the ministry come at an opportune time.
A couple of days back, the 2,000-odd people thronging Central Park in Connaught Place in New Delhi for a consumer mela were in for a pleasant surprise to have representatives of big companies, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Amazon, Reliance Communications, Tata Motors, Amway, HDFC Bank, LIC, Hero Motors, Make My Trip, Geetanjali, ITC and Panasonic, all ears to their queries and complaints. Many complaints were registered at the stalls put up by these companies — some resolved on the spot, while promises were made for quick redress of other grievances.
The government plans to organise a similar mela in March every year in the national capital, a senior official told FE. He added the fair will see greater participation in the coming years, “once more and more people get to know about it and see their complaints being handled by big companies with professionalism”. The government is considering replicating the idea in various parts of the country to create an impact among consumers about their rights, he added.
The mela, inaugurated by food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, also saw regulators including the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) putting up their stalls. Industry bodies such as CII, Assocham, Ficci and PHD Chambers were partners in this initiative. Consumers were told about various apps through which they can register complaints easily. For instance, using the FSSAI app, people can register their complaints against the quality of packaged food and also the items served in any restaurant. Also, they can go online to register complaints on www.consumerhelpline.gov.in on any product.
Already, to help resolve consumer complaints involving e-commerce players, the government has tied up with 200-odd such companies, including the prominent ones. The consumer affairs ministry forwards consumer query to these players and seeks necessary inputs.
The National Consumer Helpline took part in the mela to educate consumers about their rights and responsibilities, the procedure for seeking grievance redressal, and help them register grievances on the spot.