Consumer Advocacy – (2018 – 19)

  • Posted by CERC India
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Advocacy campaigns on several consumer issues are continuously taken up with concerned Regulatory Authorities and Govt. Departments to bring in consumer friendly regulations.


  1. After more than 15 years CERC files Class Action Suits: Class Action Suits filed against Amazon, Nestle and Garnier: As part of the project, Class Action Suits were filed against Amazon (fake Lame Eyeconic Kajal), Nestle (Maggi Nutrilicious Atta Noodles) and Garnier (Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water). The court has issued notices to these companies.
  1. CERC survey reveals Snapdeal sells products at unbelievable discounts. Are they Counterfeit? DCGI requested to intervene: CERC did a quick online survey on personal care products and cosmetics sold on Snapdeal and compared prices of the same products sold on the e-portal Nykaa. The survey revealed highly inflated MRPs and unbelievable discounts on Snapdeal apart from other issues. These were products sold at MRP higher than the brand’s official website and had incomplete labelling. We have written to Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) requesting urgent intervention to ensure that Snapdeal withdraws the products from their website and recalls the products sold to consumers.
  1. Advertisements questioned by CERC: We questioned around 500 advts in the year. 55% of the decisions received from ASCI were in favour of CERC. 41% of the cases lodged by CERC are still under scrutiny. Some select recent cases with decisions in our favour are:
  • CEAT Milaze X3 : “The 1 lakh km Tyre”
  • Amul Memory Milk: “Contains various ayurvedic herbs that are traditionally known to boost memory”
  • Dove Body Lotion: “”get cool and fresh skin this summer with fresh cucumber and cool menthol”
  1. CERC urges DoCA to form a Working Group focussed at protecting consumers of Smart Products in India: This year CI’s theme for World Consumer Rights Days (WCRD) on 15 March 2019 was “Trusted Smart Products” and consumer organizations around the world are campaigning to improve the security, data, consumer protection and accessibility of smart products. We made a representation to Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) requesting it to form a Working Group focused at protecting consumers of smart products in India. 
  1. Celebrities Questioned: Many advts with celebrity endorsements which were questioned by us have been upheld. Some such celebrities are Kareena Kapoor (Dabur Vatika Shampoo), Vidya Balan (Nihar Shanti Badam Amla), Deepika Padukone (L’Oréal Paris Extraordinary Clay), Alia Bhatt (Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water), Anushka Sharma (NIVEA Whitening Smooth Skin Roll On), S. Dhoni (Officers’ Choice Blue snacks) Shraddha Kapoor (New Veet Nikhaar), Raveena Tandon (Hempushpa), Chef Vikas Khanna (Quaker Oats), Karishma Kapoor (Bluemount RO), Virat Kohli (TooYumm) 
  1. Testing of Advertising Claims: After several meetings with the Lab and CEO to discuss the product claims that can be tested for legal action under the Misleading Advertisement project, we got the following 6 products tested:
  • Too Yumm – claim “Eat lot, fikar not”; test for salt, sugar and fat content
  • Patanjali Digestive Cookies – claim “More fibre”; test for fibre content in Patanjalivs other brands of digestive biscuits
  • Patanjali honey – claim “Patanjali Honey is a natural sweetener rich in fructose, minerals, vitamins and other nutritious elements with many health benefits”; test for quality and purity of honey (adulteration, contamination and antibiotics)
  • Maggi Nutrilicious Atta Noodles – claim “fibre of 3 rotis”; test for atta, salt and fibre
  • Cadbury Bournvita biscuit: claims “Pro-Health Vitamins” and “so tasty and healthy that he won’t make any excuses anymore”.
  • Saffola Masala Oats: claims “Eating Saffola Masala Oats as part of your daily routine is not just fantastically healthy and delicious, but also requires minimal effort” and “Saffola Masala Oats really are the smarter way to stay fit”.
  1. Representation made to DCGI on restriction on manufacture/sale of Oxytocin: Based on a representation made by Dr. Mira Shiva, CERC sent a representation to Dr. Eswara Reddy, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), outlining consumer concerns regarding restriction on manufacture and retail sale of Oxytocin and its adverse effect on women’s health, specifically at the time of delivery.
  1. Dr Mira Shiva works to alleviate suffering of J&J Hip Implant victims: Dr. Mira Shiva, also a member of AIDAN (All Indian Drug Action Network) is working relentlessly to bring justice to J&J Hip Implant victims in India. She attended the January 2019 meeting held by Dr R.K. Arya committee, formed to work out suitable compensation to victims. Based on her extensive research and inputs from her, we carried an article in Grahak Sathi April-May 2019 issue which provided guidance to victims about claiming compensation. It brought forth the various physical, mental and financial difficulties faced by the victims. The article also focused on problems faced by victims in claiming compensation and points on which action is required by the govt. and the company.
  1. Representation to Ranveer Singh urging him to not endorse Club Factory: A Popular shopping portal endorsed by actor Ranveer Singh & Miss World Manushi Chillar had a lot of negative feedback from customers. Grievances ranged from refunds not received for more than 2 months to Products shown on the website and sent often not matching. Customer service was also poor. We did a quick study and compiled and tabulated all complaints & sent to Ranveer Singh for him to intervene to improve the services or stop endorsing this brand.
  1. CERC-CHASE Research Report on “Understanding consumer choice towards mobile applications”: CERC undertook a project in partnership with Chase India to understand consumer preferences and behaviour in usage of mobile applications. The report stressed on the problems faced by consumers while using their smartphones and Apps. We suggested a separate section where these concerns, based on the Neilsen study and consumer complaints received by CERC, as also suggestions to resolve the problems, are mentioned. Chase-India again sent a draft report after taking into account CERC’s point of view. We re-examined the report to ensure that the consumer’s perspective was adequately reported. The final Report on “Understanding consumer choice towards mobile applications” was released and presented jointly by CERC and Chase India to Shefali Shah, Additional Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), Govt. of India, on 20 September 2018 in Delhi. Rashmi Goyal participated in this meeting. A press note was released by Chase India and CERC. 
  1. Consumer Survey carried out: A questionnaire to study consumer awareness on Misleading Advertisements was designed and conducted under the Misleading Advertisements project. The questionnaire was uploaded and has got 161 responses. Analysis of the survey responses was made and sent to DoCA. 
  1. FSSAI urged to control junk food advts around children’s TV shows: Recent media reports suggest that UK’s Public Health Agency is thinking of imposing a 9 pm watershed for advertisers for any food and drink considered less healthy. These advertisements cannot be screened around children’s TV shows. We have urged FSSAI to take similar action in India.
  1. CERC requests NAPi to join campaign against ‘Virat Kohli’: Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest – India (NAPi) had written to Amitabh Bachchan requesting him not to endorse Horlicks since it is high in sugar, hence, harmful for children. The actor agreed not to be associated with the brand and support the cause of “Mission Poshan”. This encouraged us to write to NAPi about the CERC campaign against Virat Kohli who endorses an unhealthy snack “Too Yumm”. We have requested them to support CERC in this campaign. 
  2. CERC urges ASCI to reconsider its stand of not taking complaints against Adani, Emami and Patanjali:ASCI informed us that the matter pertaining to advts of certain companies are sub judice, for instance Adani Wilmar, Emami and Patanjali. We urged ASCI to deal with complaints for other products of such companies as these companies have huge advertising budgets. Recently, ASCI responded to our complaints regarding Patanjali advts saying that “the matter pertaining to Patanjali Advertisements are currently sub-judice” and that ASCI is referring our complaints to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Similarly, our complaints against Emami hair oil advts have been forwarded to DoCA.
  1. CERS seeks ASCI clarification on complaints regarding Surrogate Advts: We have requested ASCI to publicly clarify if consumers should seek direct intervention from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for surrogate advts and not register their complaint on the GAMA portal. This was in response to some of the recent complaints against surrogate advts, where ASCI wrote: “Since TV advertisements of such Brand Extension products are required to be previewed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and certified by the CBFC as per the Rules of the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act, this complaint should be addressed to MIB.” This, in spite of ASCI Code having Guidelines for Qualification of Brand Extension Product or Service in order to “evaluate the genuineness of an unrestricted product or service and brand extension of a product (e.g. liquor and tobacco) whose advertising is prohibited by law.”
  1. Representation to FDCA: We identified 43 advertisements in vernacular newspapers which make claims in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act. We made a representation to the Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) Gujarat, urging it to take action against the advertisers. 
  1. Representation to GoG requesting them to strengthen surveillance to restrict sale of adulterated/contaminated loose dairy products: CERC’s test of 40 loose samples of dairy products – ghee, khoya, paneer and butter – taken from 22 dairies at 19 locations in Ahmedabad, revealed that most samples failed in quality and purity. We made a representation to Department of Consumer Affairs (Govt. of Gujarat), Ministry of Health (Govt. of Gujarat) and Food and Drug Control Administration, Gujarat to strengthen the mechanism of surveillance and ensure that loose dairy products that are adulterated or contaminated are not sold in the state. We also urged them to ensure that manufacturers adopt safe and hygienic practices during production and storage. Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoG sent our letter to FDCA for necessary action. Dept of Consumer Affairs GoG also forwarded our representation for necessary action to FDCA and ministry of Health. FDCA has written to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation for taking action on our complaint.
  1. Representation to FDCA to issue guidelines for sale of safe loose ice cream: CERC tested 10 samples of loose ice cream and 4 of gola from different parts of Ahmedabad. The tests revealed that 70% loose ice cream samples had extremely high levels of coliform bacteria, indicating microbiological contamination. Also, 50% of gola samples had food colours above the limit. We wrote to FDCA (Food and Drug Control Administration), GoG, requesting them to urgently look into this and take steps to ensure that loose ice cream and golas sold are safe for consumption, especially in view of the upcoming summer season 
  1. Comments/suggestions on Draft Telecom Regulations sent to TRAI before finalization of policy: We sent comments and suggestions on ‘The Draft Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018’ placed by TRAI as an open consultation on its website. Based on CERC’s experience and consumer complaints regarding unsolicited communications (calls and messages), we urged TRAI to make the Regulations stronger and more meaningful for consumers. Subsequently, TRAI has notified the Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulations 2018 to curb the problem of Unsolicited Commercial Communications with stringent provisions to protect consumers against unwanted calls. 
  1. Comments/suggestions on Draft National e-Commerce Policy sent to DPIIT: The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has formulated a Draft National e-Commerce Policy and sought comments and suggestions from stakeholders. We sent 19 comments from the perspective of consumer protection.
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