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How

8 mons ago

How to counter misleading advertisements?

Author: Advocate Shakti Priyan Nair
Category : Consumer Protection law

In a time wrought with duplicity and forgery, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has taken steps forward by releasing a variety of content on their website dealing with a spectrum of different topics. One such topic which has been covered by the Ministry pertains to the misleading advertisements that all consumers may have fallen for, one time or another.

Emphasising on the fact that Consumers have the Right to know what product they are purchasing, the Ministry has described misleading advertisements as advertisements where false and misleading statements and claims are published by the party selling or offering for sale the goods/services in question, thereby giving the consumer an incorrect understanding of the goods/services being provided by the seller. In a nutshell, any advertisement or promotion through Television, Radio, or any other electronic media, Newspapers, Banners, Posters, Handbills, wall-writing etc. to misrepresent the nature, characteristics, qualities or geographic origin of goods, services or commercial activities so as to mislead the consumer could be broadly defined as a misleading advertisement. The Ministry has further gone on to categorize misleading advertisements into two categories:

1.     Advertisements which violate a Consumer’s Right to Information and choice,  thereby have the potential to cause the consumer loss of both time and money, as well as mental agony;

2.     Advertisements of health cures and drugs of questionable efficiency and health gadgets of unknown values, which may have severe repercussions on the health and safety of the consumer.

Misleading advertisements have long been a problem plaguing Consumers all across India, and it is thrilling to see our government take steps to ensure the best the interests of consumers are safeguarded, while not impinging on the rights of the business. I believe that the Ministry has been successful in manoeuvring this movement in a manner which has been beneficial to all.

So the question that you would probably be asking yourself after reading this is, where do I file my complaint against such misleading advertisements?

The answer would be in the form of the online portal launched by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs called Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA). If you come across a misleading advertisement, or have been personally been affected by a misleading advertisement, you may register a complaint on the aforesaid online portal along with a copy of the photograph/audio/video of the said misleading advertisement. To register his/her grievance, a consumer may opt for one of two methods, enlisted hereinbelow:

1.     The first method is by registering as a user on the web portal http://gama.gov.in, and thereafter uploading the documents as described above showcasing the misleading advertisement or;

2.     The consumer may also register his/her complaint along with the aforesaid documents/information through the nearest Grahak Suvidha Kendra or designated Voluntary Consumer Organizations, who will in turn follow the Step 1 to file the complaint on behalf of the consumer.

Once the complaint has been registered, it shall be forwarded to the concerned regulator/authority for action against those responsible for the misleading advertisement. Action shall be initiated against the parties responsible for the misleading advertisements in accordance with the provisions of the existing law. For every complaint, the GAMA portal shall issue a unique Complaint ID, and the same can be used by the consumer to track the status of their complaint.

It is encouraging to see redressal mechanisms being set up by the Government to address the problems being faced by consumers on a day to day basis.

 

Please note that all information as shown above has been taken directly from the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, and the GAMA portal. For more information on Consumer Laws or Legal Metrology Laws, please contact the author of this post.

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