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Consumer Awareness A Case Study of Jalna City

Introduction:

*Dr. M.A. Lokhande

Each of us a consumer. We consume different commodities and services right from our birth to death. All the business activities revolve around the consumer. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi (1980) “a customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us, we depend on him. He makes favour to us, not we favour him. ” Do the manufacturers, the marketers respect and satisfy the customers? Today’s customer is said to the kind of the market. Is this true? Due to lack of awareness consumers fall prey to unfair and fraudulent tactics of the marketers. The form of exploitation may be look- alike e.g. Lifebuoy-lifebuoy, less weight, inferior quality goods and services and exorbitant prices. So, there is need of creating consumer awareness in our country. Higher the consumer awareness, lower the exploitation and vice versa. The degree of consumer awareness determines the satisfaction levels and standard of living of the consumers. Consumer awareness may be defined as clearly understanding the need and priority of purchasing, conditions warranties of purchase agreement and rights and duties of consumers.

The consumer must be aware regarding his right and available legal measures against exploitation. In order to create consumer awareness and safeguarding their interest, the Government of India has enacted MRTP act, 1968, essential Commodities act, 1955, Sales of Goods act, 1955 and Protection of consumer act, 1986.

In spite of all these efforts, consumer awareness is not up to the mark of India. Indian consumer is a victim of exploitation in the form of standard goods and services, false guarantee, exorbitant prices and fraudulent tactics. Creation of consumer awareness is a big task in our vast country. Due to some impediments such as, illiteracy, indifferent attitude, ignorance of law, lengthy legal procedures etc, and the degree of consumer awareness is a very low in India.

The present study has a good deal of relevance in the present context i.e. increasing income levels, changing consumption patterns, globalisation of Indian markets etc. It is the need of hour to enhance consumer awareness and impart consumer education in our country wherein there are more than 35 crore illiterate people and indifferent attitude prevails in the society towards consumer protection. Even educated people are not aware about their rights as consumers and prevalent laws protecting the interests of the consumers.

The present study is an attempt to probe into the awareness of the consumers, their reactions regarding service providing agencies and make some possible suggestions in order to overcome the problems.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:

The principal objectives of the study are as under:

I. To understand consumer awareness in Jalna City.

II. To know about the attitudes in relation to branded goods.

III. To understand the views of consumers on basic services.

IV. To make some suggestions in view of the problems faced by the consumers.

METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY:

The present study is confined to Jalna city, a district head quarter of Maharashtra State. The study is based on the field survey conducted with the help of a well structured questionnaire and interviews with the respondents. The secondary data collated from books and Journals devoted to the consumer movement.

For the propose of the study, a sample of 90 consumers living in Jalna city was selected on random sampling basis.

Reader & Deptt. Of commerce, Smt. Dankunwar Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jalna-431203 (Mah,)

Indian Journal of Marketing

May, 2006, P.No. 23

ANALYSIS OF DATA:

Out of respondents, 50 (55.56%) were male respondents and 40 (44.44%) female respondents. (A)Profile of consumers under this study:

EDUCATION:

Education development a rational mind and created awareness among consumers. Illiteracy is one of the impediments in the way of the consumer awareness. The highest number of respondents, i.e, 25 (27.77%) were graduates, following by 24 (26.67%) respondents who had completed higher secondary education. Our of 90 respondents, 16 (17.78%) had reached up to S.S.C. level. There were 8 post graduate respondents and 7 (7.78) illiterate respondents (table -1). Minority of the respondents expressed their ignorance about consumer protection measures.

Table -1: Education wise classification of respondents;

Sr.No

1

2

3

4

5

6

Total

90

Educational Qualification

No.of Respondents

Percentage

Educational Qualification No.of Respondents Percentage Uneducated 07 7.78 Primary/Middle 10 11.11

Uneducated

07

7.78

Primary/Middle

10

11.11

S.S.C.

16

17.78

H.S.C.

24

Graduation

25

Post Graduate

08

26.67

27.77

8.89

100.00

S.S.C. 16 17.78 H.S.C. 24 Graduation 25 Post Graduate 08 26.67 27.77 8.89 100.00

Source: Field survey -2005.

OCCUPATION:

Occupation certainly influences consumption habits, choices and purchasing power of consumers.

Table -2: Occupation wise Classification of respondents

Sr.No

1

2

3

4

Sr.No 1 2 3 4

Educational Qualification

No.of Respondents

Percentage

4 Educational Qualification No.of Respondents Percentage Business 23 25.55 Service 34 37.78 House

Business

23

25.55

Service

34

37.78

House Hold

33

6.67

Activities

Total

90

100.00

Business 23 25.55 Service 34 37.78 House Hold 33 6.67 Activities Total 90 100.00

Source: Field survey -2005. Out of 90 respondents, 34 (37.78%) were engaged in service, 23 (25.55%) had their own business while 33 (36.67%) female respondents were smouldering the responsibilities of household activities. It is noteworthy that all 90 respondents were key decision makers in purchasing for their families. INCOME:

Income is the main factor which determines purchasing power, consumption levels and tastes of consumers. Higher income level, higher the purchasing power and vice versa. It was observed that out of 90 respondents 3 (33.33%) and monthly income group i.e. Rs.20000 and above constituted 20 (22.22%) respondents and lowest income group i.e. Rs. 1000 accounted 15.58% of the total respondents.

Indian Journal of Marketing May, 2006. P.No. 24

Table-3. Income Wise Classification

Monthly Income

Upto 1000

1000-5000

5000-20000

20000-Above

Total

Upto 1000 1000-5000 5000-20000 20000-Above Total No. of Respondents Percentage 14 15.56 30 33.33

No. of Respondents

Percentage

20000-Above Total No. of Respondents Percentage 14 15.56 30 33.33 26 28.89 20 22.22

14

15.56

30

33.33

26

28.89

20

22.22

90

100.00

14 15.56 30 33.33 26 28.89 20 22.22 90 100.00

Source: Field survey -2005.

SOURSES OF FINANCIAL FOR PURCHASING Timely availability of fiancé has a deep impact on purchasing power of the consumers. Now-a-day, finance is easily available with lower interest rate which has resulted into increasing demand for consumer goods.

Table -4 Sources of Finance

Source

Self Income Banks Privates Money Lenders Relatives/Friends Other

No. of Respondents

Percentage to total (90)

90

100.00

49

54.00

18

20.00

16

17.78

20

22.22

Source: Field survey -2005. It was noticed that all the 90 respondents had their own income as the major source for financing purchases. In addition 54.44% of the total respondents stated that they borrowed from banks while 20% raised required money from private moneylenders. In case of 16 (17.78%) respondents had relatives/friends was one of the sources of finance, while 20 (22.22%) used to borrow from other sources like, credit co-operative society or chit funds (Table-4) CONSUMER AWARENESS:

To understand the views of consumers on different issues, there was discussion in detail on the issues with the respondents. The analysis of data shows that 44.44% of the total 90 respondents had knowledge about consumer protection act, Prevention of adulteration act and 55.56% were unaware about the laws (Table -5). Monthly budget was prepared by 38.88% of the total respondents while 61.12% respondents stated that they did not have knowledge about it. It is noteworthy that majority of the respondents, i.e. 78.88% (71) had made enquiry before purchasing the good. However, only 51.12% (46) respondents had duly observed and checked the product. The consumers who solely relied on the sellers for purchasing constituted 27.77% of 90 respondents.

Table 5 : Views of Respondents

Sr.no

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Educational Qualification

No. of Respondents

Percentage

Knowledge of consumer Protection laws

40

44.44

Monthly Budget was prepared

35

38.88

Enquiry was done before purchasing

71

78.88

Goods were observed and duly checked

46

51.12

Relied solely on the seller

25

27.77

Purchase receipts were taken and read out

35

38.88

Did not take purchase receipt

55

61.12

Returned/Replaced goods it not as per expectations

31

34.34

Purchased only Branched goods

67

74.44

Used Unbranded goods.

23

25.56

Source: Field survey -2005.

Indian Journal of Marketing May, 2006, Page No. 25

A purchase receipt, being an evidence of sale contract can be produced in the court for the breach of the contract. It was observed that only 35 (38.38%) has taken purchase receipts, read them out and understand conditions and warranties. On the other hand, 55 (61.12%) respondents had not demanded for receipts. In case of the purchase of the goods which were not as per the expectations or order, 31 (34.34%) had either returned or replaced the goods. However, such action was not taken by 59 (65.66%) respondents which throw light on their “ Chalta Hai” attitude. Now a-days, branded goods are popular among consumers because they assure some sort of quality and status. Services certainly influence the standard of living of the consumers. The views of respondents on availability of service in Jalna city are given in Table -6. Table-6: Views of Respondents on availability of Services

Sr.No

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Service

Adequacy

% Inadequate

% Total

%

Education

36

40.00

54

60.00

90

100

Health

41

45.55

49

54.45

90

100

Banking

45

50.00

45

50.00

90

100

Telephone

38

42.22

52

57.78

90

100

Insurance

60

66.67

30

33.33

90

100

Electricity

32

35.55

58

64.45

90

100

Drinking Water

35

38.89

55

61.11

90

100

Entertainment

40

44.44

50

55.56

90

100

Source: Field survey -2005. Of the 90 respondents, educational facilities of 40% of the respondents’ were adequate 54(60) respondents were dissatisfied with the available educational facilities. Majority of the respondents expressed concern over high fees structure and deteriorating standard of education. In case of health facilities, 45.5% of the respondents were found satisfied while 54.55% respondents were dissatisfied. A few respondents complained about too high charges and poor services rendered by the hospitals. About banking services, 50% of the respondents were satisfied. However, 50% respondents had complained about delays in services provided by the banks and 57.7% were disappointed over telephone services. It is noteworthy that more than 66% of the total respondents had good experiences in relation to Insurance services. 58 (64.45%) respondents complained about inadequate and irregular supply of electricity. Majority of the respondents expressed their concern over exorbitant electricity bill. According to 61.11% respondents. Water supply in Jalna city was irregular inadequate while 55.56% respondents complained about poor quality of theatres. To sum up, Majority of the respondents were found unsatisfied over the quality and adequacy of needful services in Jalna city. Table 5: Experiences of Respondents regarding unfair trade practices.

Unfair trade practices/Defects.

Inferior Quality

Less quantity

Look-alikes

Adulteration

Exorbitant Price

False guarantee

No. of Respondents

Percentage of total 90

56

62.62

14

15.56

28

31.11

30

33.33

35

38.89

20

22.22

Source: Field survey -2005.

Indian Journal of Marketing May, 2006 Page No. 26

It can be observed from table-7 that majority of the respondents i.e. 62.62% of total 90 respondents,

were supplied inferior quality goods. According to 40 (44.44%) respondents, they had to pay the price in excess of the printed price as did not have another alternative. 15.56% of the respondents had bad experiences of being

provided less quality than demanded. To differentiate between look alike was the major problem before 31.11% of the total 90 respondents. They were provided look alike goods as original goods, e.g. Parachute- parashute, Colgate- colgatte, Lifebuoy-lifeboy etc. It is noteworthy that 33.33% (30) of the respondents had been provided adultered milk, edible oil, ted Powder and perfume. 35 (38.89%) respondents had experienced of exploitation in the form of charging exorbitant prices by scratching out the printed prices. Out of 90 respondents 20 (22.22%) respondents stated that they were given false guarantee of the durability of the goods. This indicates that there has been continuous exploitation of consumers in spite of existing.

The respondents were asked about what action they had taken against the greedy sellers, while 63.33% of the respondents had not lodged complaints in spite of understanding that they were cheated. 25 (27.78%)

respondents had complained to grahak Panchyayat and 8 (8.89%) had complained to district forum. Nobody had complained to the state commission or the national commission.

A few respondents stated they did not complain because of the lengthy process involved. Majority of

the respondents i.e. 50(55.56) had knowledge about consumer protection Act .(Table-5)

Table 8 : Reactions of the Respondents

Educational Qualification

No. of

Respondents

Complained to Grahak Panchyat

25

Complained to District Forum

08

Complained to State Commission

--

Complained to State Commission

--

No Complain was made

57

to State Commission -- No Complain was made 57 Total 90 Percentage 27.78 8.89 -- --

Total

90

to State Commission -- No Complain was made 57 Total 90 Percentage 27.78 8.89 -- --

Percentage

27.78

8.89

--

--

63.33

100.00

Source: Field survey -2005

FINDING AND SUGGESTIONS Consumer awareness in essential to avoid any type of unfair practice or cheating by greedy markers. The study disclosed that only 55.56% of the 90 respondents from Jalna city were unaware about consumer protection acts, consumer redressal machineries such as, district consumer forum, state/ central commission. Every Consumer has the right to get maximum satisfaction from the goods and services for which he has paid. Besides formal education, consumer education should be imparted right from High School level. A

wider publicity should be given to consumer protection measures through T.V., newspapers. Use of audio-visual media is effective to educate illiterate Consumers. Consumer protection movement should be strengthened. The analysis of data shows that 38.88% of the total respondents were aware about monthly purchase budget preparation.

It was noteworthy that majority of the respondents i.e. 78.88% (71) were habitual of making

enquiries before purchasing while 51.12% respondents had habits of observing, Checking and handing of goods before purchasing.

It may be strongly recommended that every customer should be cautious while purchasing. He must

observe and check the goods otherwise he himself is responsible for loss caused by his negligence as per sales of goods act.

Indian Journal of Marketing May, 2006 Page No. 27

The study revealed that only 35(38.38%) respondents had demanded and taken the purchase receipt and also read out the conditions. This indicates that a large number of consumers are aware about taking purchase receipt which is a written evidence of purchase contract. This type of negligency on the part of consumer is loss to the exchequer through tax evasion. On the other hand, he cannot complain against the without purchase receipt. Whichever deceived customer complains orally against fraudulent seller, he just denies to entertain it on the ground that the customer does not have the receipt. In order to have a legal evidence of purchasing, the buyer must get original purchase receipt, warranty cards and understand the condition of the purchase contract. The campaign “Jago Grahak Jago” on national network should be continued to make the consumer

aware.

It was evident that only 34.34% had either returned or replaced the goods which were not as per expectations, while 65.66% respondents consumed the goods, Indian customers’ indifferent attitude is not only responsible for their deception but it also encourages the greedy marketers. The “Chalta Hai attitude” must be rooted out. With regard to use of branded goods, majority of the respondents i.e. 60% were dissatisfied and expressed concern over high fees structure and deterioration standard of education. Shortage of drinking water was the major problem in case of 61.11% of the respondents. 54.45% of the respondents were not satisfied and they complained about high fees charged by the hospitals. 50% respondents were found disappointed on delayed services. 52 about high fees charged by the hospitals. 50% respondents were found disappointed on delayed banking services. 52 of the respondents complained about exorbitant bills charged by the electricity board and BSNL.

The service providing agencies such as, SEBs, BSNL, Banks, Insurance companies should provide adequate and timely services to the customers. In case of default, they must be dragged to the consumer redressal agencies and should be punished. The deceived customers should take stringent action against faulty agencies.

The study revealed that majority of the respondents were given inferior quality goods , 14 (15.56%) had got less quantity of goods, 28 (31.11%) respondents had received look-alike goods as original goods, 33.33% respondents had got adulterated goods and 35 (38.89%) respondents had to pay too high prices than printed prices. The conclusion of the study is that in spite of understanding about exploitation, a few consumers i.e. only 33 (36.67%) respondents had dared to complain against faulty sellers. This throws adequate light on the different attitude of consumers and also highlights the degree of unawareness among the consumers. IN spite of consumer protection measures, consumers are cheated in one or other form. The need of hour is to implement the acts strictly and the culprits must be punished. There should be better co-ordination and co-operation between Grahak Panchayats, Consumer Redressal Forums and the government agencies in safeguarding the interests of consumers. The fees charged for lodging the complaint should be waived to benefit the customers, particularly poor customers. The sellers, traders should follow business ethics and try to give maximum satisfaction to the consumers and the society. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nair, R Suja, Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Research, Himalaya Publication House, New Delhi, 2004, pp3

Lokhande, M.A., Business Regulatory Framework, Kailas Publication, Aurangabad, 2002, pp150

Sen Gupta A, Srivastava AK, Big Bad and parallel word of counter feits and look- Alikes, Indian Journal of Marketing of Marketing, Vol XXXIII, Aug.2003, pp

Kotler p, Principles of Marketing, New Delhi, Prentice Hall of India Pvt. Ltd.1992

Majumdar P.K., Law of consumer Protection in India, Orient Publishing Company, New Delhi, 1994

Peshwe V.M., The Consumer Protection Act. 1986.

Singh Gurjeet, The law of consumer protection in India.

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