I am pretty much a bit of a Rules Ramanujam in the house. Not exactly a stickler for rules, but consumer rights has always been my, for want of a better word, area of interest. Confused enough? Let me explain.
Place : Vaigai Express ( The awesome day train that runs between Chennai and Madurai, taking everybody’s life and patience out)
It was a usual journey. After a shaky nap in between a nice variety of people, I look out for some vendor who sells coffee/tea. Now, day trains in India have what is known as a pantry car. Food items are made there, fresh and hot, and sold to the passengers in the train at rates fixed by the IRCTC ( Railway Catering Corporation). As hoped for, I see a vendor and ask for a cup of coffee ( totally questionable quality and taste, but what the hell). He gives me a cup of coffee, as I had wanted and demands Ten rupees for it. I look at him with a look that could give blinking monitors a run for its money, my hands still stretched, holding the cup intact. He stresses for the money again. I don’t budge.
I have my reasons, people.
- The quantity of coffee given to me was nowhere near 150 ml in a 150 ml marked cup.
- He demanded 10 rupees whereas the price as per the rate card was seven and I had no intention of giving him a single paisa over and above that, provided I get my 150 ml of “so-called coffee”.
Exchange of glances, followed by a heated exchange of words ensued. Only after I insisted to write in the complaint book in the Pantry Car did he give me the coffee for Seven rupees.
The reason for me sharing this incident out of many other similar experiences is because, even today I was in a similar situation. I was ready and possibly better equipped this time, with voice recordings and bus number as evidence to back my claim.
We as consumers, need to stand up for what is right. We have been given certain rights which is designed to protect us from getting cheated/exploited in the process of buying and selling. Most of us would definitely have been in similar, if not identical situations. We might have let it go because we didn’t want to create a scene out there, inviting curious eye-balls and smirks. We tend to do so, inspite of the Law bestowing us with remedial mechanism and immediate relief measure too.
Standing up for one’s own rights is what the country needs now. We people, conveniently forget the areas where it makes a difference and focus on areas where something much more than mere standing up is needed. Consumer rights is a lucrative and a very effective space to insist that the Law be followed. Simple actions like being attentive to the MRP, the expiry date, the railway food items prices etc can go a long way in restoring the balance in the market. This would lead to fairplay and less number of ” Oh I got cheated, he overcharged me” wala experiences.
I have no shame in admitting that I have actually fought with vendors in the Bus stands and railway platforms for overcharging me. Every paisa that I earn is of value to me. I would spend it for legitimate purposes and not for something that is frivolous and illegal in the first place.
We, as consumers, have all the rights to insist on a bill/ insist on fresh stock if the product is sold beyond its expiry date/ if the product is of substandard quality/ ask for explanation when it is apparent that we are being overcharged etc. I learnt this from my dad. Grievance redressal mechanism such as complaint books are always there. Even the services sector like banking has a “panchayat” person called “Ombudsman” who looks into such issues.
So, Wake up, fellow humans! Stand up for your rights. Jago Grahak, Jago!
As long as simpletons exist, cheaters will exist too. ( Read in tamizh for that punch! )