In some countries the consumers have organised themselves on a voluntary basis to form consumer groups or councils. They are non-government organisations (NGOs) to protect consumer rights.
These voluntary consumer groups or councils protect consumer rights in the following ways:
- They issue leaflets providing information so as to educate consumers on matters affecting them.
- They have been pressing for proper labeling of the products with maximum price to be charged, the contents of the product, especially drugs, side effects if any, of the product etc.
- Organizing movements against the malpractices of manufacturers and traders of the products.
In Delhi, Mumbai and other important cities voluntary consumer organisations came into existence in sixties and seventies when prices of goods rose very high to resist the hike in prices by traders arbitrarily. The idea of Super Bazar on cooperative principles emerged from this price resistance movements of consumers. Besides, an organisation named ‘Common Cause’ established by late. Mr. H.D. Shourie and based in Delhi did a very useful work in protecting the rights of consumers.
Consumer cooperative movement also started to protect the consumers against the malpractices and traders of goods. A consumer cooperative is a voluntary association of consumers formed to promote their interests. The consumers enhance their bargaining power as against traders and manufacturers.
The consumer cooperatives protect the consumers in the following ways:
- Since these cooperatives purchase commodities in bulk and generally directly from the manufacturers they are able to provide goods to the consumers at reasonable prices.
- Secondly, the consumers themselves control the cooperatives. They are therefore assured of standard quality and unadulterated goods.
- Correct weights and measures are used by the cooperative societies and therefore consumers are saved from any deception in this regard.
- In India consumer cooperatives are especially engaged in distributing essential commodities at controlled prices.
Despite the efforts of voluntary organisations to protect consumers and safeguard their legitimate rights, these voluntary organisations have not succeeded much in protecting consumers. Their growth has been limited mainly to house building societies.
Other voluntary cooperative societies work at the level of distributing goods and are able to eliminate malpractices of middlemen. But, the real problem is to save the consumers from monopolistic, unfair and restrictive trade practices of manufacturers of goods and services and misleading advertisements by them to exploit the consumers.