We participate in the market both as producers and consumers. As producers of goods and services we could be working in any of the sectors discussed earlier such as agriculture, industry, or services. Consumers participate in the market when they purchase goods and services that they need. These are the final goods that people as consumers use. Let us know more about consumer in the marketplace.
In the preceding modules, we discussed the need for rules and regulations or steps that would promote development. These could be for the protection of workers in the unorganized sector or to protect people from high interest rates charged by moneylenders in the informal sector. Similarly, rules and regulations are also required for protecting the environment.
For example, moneylenders in the informal sector that you read about in earlier modules adopt various tricks to bind the borrower. They could make the producer sell the product to them at a low rate in return for a timely loan.
Many people who work in the unorganized sector have to work at a low wage and accept conditions that are not fair and are also often harmful to their health. To prevent such exploitation, we have talked of rules and regulations for their protection.
There are organizations that have struggled for a long to ensure that these rules are followed. Likewise, rules and regulations are required for the protection of the consumer in the marketplace. \Individual consumers often find themselves in a weak position. Whenever there is a complaint regarding a good or service that had been bought, the seller tries to shift all the responsibility onto the buyer.
Their position usually is – “If you didn’t like what you bought, please go elsewhere”. As if the seller has no responsibility once a sale is completed! The consumer movement, as we shall discuss later, is an effort to change this situation. Exploitation in the marketplace happens in various ways.
For example, sometimes traders indulge in unfair trade practices such as when shopkeepers weigh less than what they should or when traders add charges that were not mentioned before, or when adulterated/defective goods are sold. Markets do not work in a fair manner when producers are few and powerful whereas consumers purchase in small amounts and are scattered.
This happens especially when large companies are producing these goods. These companies with huge wealth, power, and reach can manipulate the market in various ways. At times false information is passed on through the media, and other sources to attract consumer in the marketplace.
For example, a company for years sold powder milk for babies all over the world as the most scientific product claiming this to be better than mother’s milk. It took years of struggle before the company was forced to accept that it had been making false claims. Similarly, a long battle had to be fought with court cases to make cigarette manufacturing companies accept that their product could cause cancer. Hence, there is a need for rules and regulations to ensure protection for consumer in the marketplace.