Bhopal, 3rd May to 8th May, 2010 A Brief Report Submitted by: CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition
1.1 German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India (DoCA) under the Indo-German Bilateral Programme on Advisory Services in Environmental Management (ASEM) have partnered to setup six consumer advisory centres in six project states wherein consumer advisors have been recruited.
1.2 Institute for Regulation & Competition (CIRC) was engaged by GTZ to undertake the following activities:
compile frequently occurring problems (FOPs) to consumers in different sectors, preparation of the training modules covering all relevant topics, and provide training to consumer advisors.
1.3 In keeping with the agenda CIRC conducted a six day training of consumer advisors from two project states, namely, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The training workshop was organized at Bhopal from 3rd May to 8th May, 2010.
2.1 The training programme was attended by twenty seven participants – (i) eighteen from Madhya Pradesh, and (ii) nine from Gujarat.
2.2 The participants were mainly consumer activists. They were well versed with the problems faced by consumers. For instance, out of the eighteen participants from Madhya Pradesh – eight are working with Madhya Pradesh State Citizen Facilitation Centre, three are employed with Madhya Pradesh State Electronic Development Corporation, two were from Madhya Pradesh State Civil Supplies Department, and five from Madhya Pradesh State Food, Civil Supplies, and Consumer Protection Department. Two participants from Gujarat are working with Department of Legal Metrology and Consumer Affairs, and seven are associated with consumer organizations.
2.3 The age of the participants ranged between thirty five to forty five years.
3.1 The six day seminar was broadly divided into sixteen sessions (excluding the feedback sessions). The matrix below provides details of each session and give an overview of the events that transpired in each session.
|Session Details||Description of Events|
|Day 1: May 3, 2010|
|Dr. Yogendra Srivastava, National Law Institute University
(NLIU), inaugurated the session by welcoming all the
participants and guests.
Prof. S.S. Singh, Director, NLIU gave an overview of the training programme and its objectives. He stated that the idea of consumer helpline was initiated by the DoCA and given to Delhi University. In view of the interest and initial experience, it was decided to decentralise it and have help-lines at the state level.
Prof. Rajiv Khare, NLIU stated that consumer protection involved many topics and laws. The idea of the training was to familiarise the participants with legal concepts which are required for effective advisory to consumer.
Dr. Poonam Pande of GTZ stated that the training programme is a pilot project for five states and comprehensively cover laws, activities and sectors affecting consumers, so that the learning may be put into practice.
Mr. Ashok Das, Principal Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of Madhya Pradesh commenting on the curriculum stated that it was comprehensive. He observed that as participants, from wide-ranging fields would be assisting consumers vide the consumer helplines, therefore, they should be equipped to deal with consumer problems. He stated that GTZ would run the pilot project in Madhya Pradesh for one year, thereafter; it shall be taken over by the state government.
Introduction and Team Building
|S.K. Virmani, National Consumer Helpline (NCH), New Delhi conducted the session and gave a brief introduction about the training programme to the participants. This was followed by a round of orientation of the participants.|
Overview of the General Consumer Problems and Role of Advisors m
|S.K. Virmani, NCH, New Delhi gave an outline of the training modules, an overview of the general consumer problems, and role of advisors. The participants shared their experiences and discussed the problems faced by consumers and possible solutions.|
|Session 4:||Mr. S K Virmani from NCH discussed personal skills and their
importance for a consumer advisor. He emphasized on the need of effective communication and stated that the communication is
required to find a job, fulfill job requirements, and decisionmaking. He stated that the communication is a two way process
and explained the different types of communication. Offering
practical advice to the participants he stated that they should not
make assumptions when the consumers come with complaints.
They should listen to the problem first, and focus on the situation
and issues, thereafter, they should summarise the problem and
offer advice only at the end of the conversation. It is important
for consumer advisors to take notes while the consumer is
speaking and use his words while responding. He stated that
communication is important because it increases productivity and
||Personal Skills||Mr. Virmani’s presentation on “Personal Skills” is attached to this report and marked as Annexure A. solutions.|
Communication and Advice
(Exercise: Art gallery)
|Mr. S K Virmani conducted the session and gave participants
practical tips on handing consumer complaints and offering
advice. He stated that consumers calling the helpline may be
distressed therefore it is important for consumer advisors to
understand their problems patiently. The consumer should feel
valued and appreciated. He encouraged the participants to treat
each call as a learning experience as no two calls are the same.
According to him a consumer advisor should understand the
problem of the consumer and should offer him various options
of seeking redressal.
Mr. Virmani’s presentation on “Communication and Advice” is attached to this report and marked as Annexure B.
The session was followed by an exercise wherein participants were divided into five groups of five each. Each group was given chart paper, scissors, adhesive stick and magazine. They were asked to paste different photographs on the chart paper from the magazine to represent different skills of a good consumer advisor. On completion of the group activity, each group was asked to present their chart to highlight the required skill set of an advisor.
|Day 2: May 4, 2010|
Indian Legal System and Contacts in relation to the consumers
|Prof. Ghayur Alam of NLIU conducted the session and discussed
the definition of a legal system according to Max Weber and
made a comparison of common and civil law systems. He
explained the three arms of the legal system, their accountability,
the Constitution, the rule of law and due procedure of law,
contract law and its principles, and definition of consumer. He
interacted with the participants and answered their questions.
Prof. Alam’s presentations are annexed to this report and marked as Annexures C and D.
|Thereafter, Dr. Pallavi Kishore, Fellow, CIRC engaged the participants in a role play wherein ten groups of two participants each were created. One participant acted as a consumer and the other as advisor. Most of the groups took up problems from Frequently Occurring Problem (FOP) tables covering various sectors like airlines, domestic appliances, education, cable service, telecom, electricity etc.|
Law of Torts in relation to the consumer
|Prof. Rajiv Khare, NLIU giving the basic background on the law
of torts informed the participants that a person is entitled to a
remedy under the law of tort if they are unable to get relief for a
civil wrong under any other law. He explained the general
conditions and the basis of liability in torts and stated that
negligence is actionable if it causes harm to another. Touching
upon consumer problems in different sectors like food and
beverages, medicine, electricity, transport, and municipal
authorities, he discussed the various practical issues faced by the
customers by way of examples and case studies.
Prof. Khare’s presentation on “Law of Torts in relation to the consumer” is attached to this report and marked as Annexure E.
Designing and Executing and Awareness Campaign
|Mr. Ashish Bharadwaj, Consultant, conducted the session and
explained the meaning of awareness and informed the
participants about the various means of identifying the problem,
gaining knowledge on prevention, seeking remedy, and spreading
the knowledge. According to him an awareness campaign, should
answer the following seven Ws – What, To Whom, Who, Why,
How, By Whom, When, Where. He showed various commercials
to the participants like Maruti Alto, Lifebuoy etc. to explain the
concept of target group, and objectives to be achieved.
Highlighting the limitation of the use of media in rural areas he
suggested the use of alternate forums like melas, sammelans, haats
etc for creating consumer awareness.
Thereafter, he divided the participants into six groups of four each and gave each group a topic to design an awareness campaign. The topics were – National Leprosy Mission, Sarvshiksha Abhiyaan, Save Electricity, Save Ganges, National Rural Health Mission, and Panchayati Raj. The participants were supplied with essential materials and were asked to answer the seven Ws vide their campaign.
Mr. Bharadwaj’s presentations on “Designing and organizing an awareness campaign” is attached to this report and marked as Annexure F to I.
|Session 9:||Day 2 ended with an exam aiming to test the knowledge of the participants The result of the examination is annexed herewith as|
|Day 3: May 5, 2010|
Law of Consumer Protection
|Prof. S.S. Singh, NLIU explained the philosophy of consumer
protection as the desire to protect the consumer’s rights.
Expressing his point of view he stated that if the state had played
its role for citizens, consumer issues would not have risen.
According to him consumer protection law is a consequence of
market economy. He discussed the rights of consumer under
Section 6 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (CPA) and the
United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Policy. He referred to
the objectives of the CPA and stated that India was the only
country in the world with a separate specialized adjudicatory
mechanism for consumer disputes. He also explained the
definition of consumer by giving examples. He went on to
explain the definition of goods, defect, complaint, complainant,
services and the reliefs possible under the CPA. He touched upon
various sectors like medical, banking, transport, railways,
electricity, housing sectors and the Right to Information Act.
Mr. Singh’s presentations on “Law of Consumer Protection” is attached to this report and marked as Annexure K.
Thereafter, Dr. Pallavi Kishore, CIRC, divided the participants into five groups. Each group was given time to prepare and present a case study. These case studies are annexed to this report and marked as Annexure L.
|Day 3 ended with an exam aiming to test the knowledge of the participants For the results of the examination please refer to Annexure J.|
|Day 4: May 6, 2010|
Liability for Goods and Services
|Advocate H.K. Awasthi explained the different rights of the
consumers, and types of complaints related to defect and
deficiency. He discussed the issues faced by various service
industries like banking, insurance, airlines, housing, education and
medical. Explaining the difference between a contract of sale and
a contract of hire purchase, he elaborated on the problems related
to Maximum Retail Price (MRP), Packaged Commodities Rules
and goods purchased online or from another jurisdiction.
Mr. Awasthi’s presentations on “Liability of Goods and Services” is attached to this report and marked as Annexure M.
Thereafter, the participants were divided into six groups of four each and were presented with case studies. The case studies are annexed to this report and marked as Annexure N.
|Session 13:||Mr. S.K. Sinha, Secretary, Office of Banking Ombudsman,|
|Consumer Problems related to Credit and Banking||Reserve Bank of India, Bhopal explaining the Banking
Ombudsman (BO) Scheme to the participants informed the
participants that the BO can pass an award for a maximum of ten
lakh rupees and one lakh rupees in case of ATM problems. In
order to claim damages the complainant has to quantify his loss.
He elaborated that the award by a BO can be challenged before
the Appellate Authority of the bank. However, the complainant
cannot be represented by an advocate. He touched upon various
issues like deficiency in service such as delay in collection of
cheque, accounts closed forcibly, matured fixed deposits not
given to holder etc.
Advocate Vivek Agarwal, in the same session touched upon postal financial services, insurance, banking, micro-finance and Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
Participants were given complaint forms to fill for lodging a complaint with Insurance and Banking Ombudsmen.
|Day 4 ended with an exam aiming to test the knowledge of the participants For the results of the examination please refer to Annexure J.|
|Day 5: May 7, 2010|
|Mr. Deepak Mishra, an IT Expert, imparted basic IT training
required for consumer advisors. He explained the objectives of
the IT Platform and the process of call resolution including
convergence. He then explained the Call Registration screen in
Mr. Mishra’s presentation is annexed to this report and marked as Annexure O.
|Day 6: May 8, 2010|
|Mr. Deepak Mishra, an IT Expert imparting practical knowledge on the use of the consumer helpline platform, allotted one computer to two participants and guided them in navigating through the centrally hosted IT Platform.|