Indian Consumers: Ask Your MPs to Adapt the Consumer Protection Bill When Parliament Assembles
The Consumer Protection Bill (CPB) 2018 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 20 December 2018. Actually, this bill was tabled in 2015. However, Raja Sabha did not pass the bill and the new Parliament has to take this up after the election. 
 
CPB was not at all controversial. All political parties would have been interested to support the long suffering consumers if only they realized that their voters demand from them a robust act to protect their rights. After all, voters are consumers in one way or the other. But it did not happen. 
 
The new bill had several consumer friendly provisions. It would have established a Central Consumer Protection Authority to protect consumer rights and to look into misleading advertisements, had provisions to fine and ban on celebrities for endorsing misleading advertisements, would have encouraged alternate dispute litigation mechanisms etc.
 
Consumer Voice (CV), a well-known Delhi based consumer protection organisation has started a petition to urge all the political parties to pass the consumer protection bill (CPB 2018) when the new Parliament meets after the election. CV publishes a monthly magazine to inform the consumers of the comparative testing of products and services. Such information is invaluable for consumers and not to be misled by all kinds of ads. 
 
Unless we the citizens show interest, new parliament irrespective of which combination of parties come to rule is unlikely to take this bill on a priority basis. What a shame that even after passage of four long years, we have failed to have a progressive consumer protection act to replace the one of 1986. This is mostly because of consumer indifference. 
 
Some efforts have been made in the past to get signatures for petition like this, but none achieved the critical mass of at least one lakh signatures (even one lakh is not much to speak of in a society where crores are active on the social network). 
 
Some may argue what is the use of passing another law when the previous law has not really helped the consumers as expected. Consumer courts established  under previous law have adapted the dysfunctional culture of general courts giving never ending adjournments and has failed to uphold the spirit of giving judgements with no or minimum adjournment in 90 days. This is mostly because we the citizens have failed in our responsibility of putting pressure on the government to implement the law properly. Hopefully, the new consumer movement which is now being promoted by some NGOs to push the political parties to adapt a more progressive act may make a difference.  
 
  
 
We all talk of how social network plays an important role. Can anything be more important than helping the consumers who face problems every day while buying goods and services either from the public or private sectors? 
 
If we the citizens take interest, we should be able to get at least a million signatures to the petition. It will definitely make a difference. Our goal is to get millions to sign the petition to convince all the political leaders to put consumer protection on their manifesto. 
 
Link to sign to petition is at http://chng.it/LfD68DFn.  
 
Soon after reading the article, do not postpone to sign it. It takes less than a minute. 
 
Let us get inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s words, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”. 
 
(Bhamy V Shenoy is a governing council member of Consumer Voice
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BR

2 months ago

Only honest & brave people & governments will care to save Consumers. People get the government that they deserve.

How Power Banks or Portable Chargers Exaggerate mAh Ratings
Class-action lawsuits allege that the mAh ratings of several portable chargers are greatly exaggerated.
 
The idea, at least initially, was to have a relaxing vacation. Yet here you are hours into a hike and miles from the beach. But just as you’re about to throw yourself on the rainforest floor, you spot a group of spider monkeys high above in the canopy. It’s a picture-perfect moment, if only your phone battery hadn’t died two hours ago.
 
But if you had a portable charger, you might still be able to capture the moment before it passes — provided the charger itself has enough juice.
 
When it comes to portable chargers (aka power banks), the mAh rating is what you need to know. It tells you how long the charger can recharge a device (a phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) before the charger itself needs to be recharged. More mAh, more juice, generally.
 
But a recent trend in class-action litigation alleges that the mAh ratings of several portable chargers are greatly exaggerated.
 
“The most important factor for consumers in choosing a Power Bank is its capacity, which is measured in milliampere-hours, or ‘mAh,'” states a lawsuit against Inland Products, which plaintiffs allege advertises a mAh of 10,400 for its ProHT chargers when testing showed the actual mAh to be only 5,840.
 
“Consumers thus have a strong preference for, and pay more for, Power Banks with a higher mAh,” the suit continues. “Accordingly, for most Power Banks, the mAh rating is featured prominently in the product’s advertising.”
 
Other portable chargers currently facing class actions include:
 
 
TINA.org reached out to all five brands for comment. Walmart, maker of Onn portable chargers, was the only one to respond, telling TINA.org that it takes the matter seriously and is “responding as appropriate with the court.”
 
Find more of our coverage on phones here.
 
This article highlights a trend in class-action litigation as identified by our Class-Action Tracker. Thus the name of this feature, CATrends.
 
Courtesy: TruthInAdvertising.org
 
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ASCI bans 344 ads including Republic TV, Hero MotoCorp, Blenders Pride, P&G, L'Oreal India, Head & Shoulders, HUL Ponds, Sensodyne, Lenskart, Rasna, Dabur, GoodKnight Patches in October & November 2018
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) processed 389 complaints during October and November 2018. Out of these complaints, advertisers ensured corrective action for 112 advertisements while the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of has banned as many as 232 advertisements, ASCI says in a release.
 
The self-regulatory industry body, in a statement said, of the 232 advertisements probed by CCI, 95 belonged to the education sector, 53 to the healthcare sector, 36 to the food & beverages sector, 23 to personal care, and 20 were from the 'others' category. Five advertisements violated BARC Guidelines. 
 
The banned ads are from prominent companies like Hero MotoCorp Ltd (Hero Xtreme 200r), L'Oreal India Pvt Ltd (L'Oreal Extraordinary Clay Shampoo & Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water), Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Health Care Ltd (Head & Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo), GlaxoSmithKline Asia (Sensodyne Toothpaste), Dabur India Ltd (Dabur Honitus Syrups), ITC Ltd (Sunfeast Yippee Powerup Masala Noodles), Pernod Ricard India (Blenders Pride Music CDs), Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GoodKnight Patches), LG Washing Machine, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Vim Anti Smell Bar & Ponds Oil Control Face wash) and Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd among others, they range from FMCGs to autos, personal accessories to alcohol, and education to media.  
 
Amongst various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed that, Virat Kohli was endorsing a bike brand shown driving rashly and violating traffic rules, manifesting a disregard for safety. In addition to this, other famous celebrity, Alia Bhatt was found to endorse a shampoo claiming to keep hair non-stop fresh for up to 72 hours. In another advertisement a celebrity was endorsing a well-known brand of glasses promising that the product blocks harmful blue rays from digital media unlike other glasses.        
 
A significant number of complaints looked into by the CCC pertained to food and beverage sector, ASCI says, adding the most common reason for upholding complaints were unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims that exploit consumers' lack of knowledge. It was also observed that the advertisements had unsubstantiated leadership claims, improper use of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) logo in contravention of the FSSAI advisory, organic claims, disparagement of healthy eating habits as well as surrogate advertisements, it added.
 
D Shivkumar, chairman, ASCI said, "ASCI and FSSAI recently concluded their second year of collaboration via a memorandum of understanding (MOU). FSSAI had given ASCI a mandate for comprehensive Suo Moto surveillance of potentially misleading advertisements in the food and beverage sector. Over 200 misleading advertisements have been looked into by the CCC and their compliance status was updated to FSSAI. This co-regulation model has been quite effective in ensuring compliance and was recently also referred in a Rajya Sabha question."
 
DIRECT COMPLAINTS
 
The following advertisements were in violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. The advertisers did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrities did due diligence prior to lending their name for the endorsements, to ensure that all description, claims and comparisons made in the advertisement are capable of substantiation:
 
1. Hero MotoCorp Ltd (Hero Xtreme 200r): In the advertisement, cricketer Virat Kohli is seen driving rashly in normal traffic conditions. The advertisement portrays violation of traffic rules, shows dangerous practices and manifests disregard for safety. The advertisement showed speed manoeuvrability in a manner which encourages unsafe or reckless driving which could harm the driver and general public.  The TVC contravened Chapter III.3 of the ASCI Code and Clauses (a) (b) and (c) of the ASCI Guidelines for Advertisements depicting Automotive Vehicles.
 
2. L’Oreal India Pvt Ltd. (L'Oreal Extraordinary Clay Shampoo): The advertisement’s claim, “The power of pure clay in shampoo” is inadequately substantiated as it lacked specific scientific evaluation showing the effectiveness of clay and is misleading by ambiguity and implication. For the claim “keeps hair non-stop fresh for up to 72 hours” the advertiser did not provide appropriate scientific evaluation to substantiate the claim, hence is misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
 
3. L'Oreal India P. Ltd. (Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water): The advertisement with celebrity Alia Bhat claimed, “Makeup off in just one swipe,” which was not substantiated. The claim is misleading by exaggeration, and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The advertiser did not provide any testimonials, or any evidence of the consent of the celebrity for the product efficacy claims.
 
4. Buy Happy Marketing LLP (VIP Natural Hair Colour Shampoo): The advertisement shows celebrity Vivek Oberoi applying the product with his bare hands, and saying “Gloves ki zaroorat hi nahin. Gloves ke bina hi, isse app geele haathon mein leke safed baloon par shampoo hi tarah maasage karke sirf 15 minutes mein wash kar le. Ye aapke skin par bilkul nahin lagega, sirf aapke balon par lagega”, the claim was not substantiated with any technical test reports and is misleading by ambiguity and implication. The instructions in product leaflet mention “Use gloves when required” while the pack says “can be applied with wet bare hands” are contradictory. Also, the claim “5 in 1 benefit i.e. application on head, moustache, beard, chest and hand” was not substantiated with any safety test reports. The advertisement to be encouraging unsafe practices among consumers. Lastly, the advertiser did not provide any evidence of the celebrity’s due diligence hence violating the ASCI Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. 
 
Food and beverage 
 
ITC Limited (Sunfeast Yippee Powerup Masala Noodles): The advertisement’s claim “Atta Noodles” is misleading by omission and exploits consumers’ lack of knowledge as the product also contains “Refined Wheat Flour” (Maida) quantity of which has not been declared in the ingredient list on the product pack. 
 
Pernod Ricard India (Blenders Pride Music CDs): The advertisement features a man wearing a suit, holding a cricket ball while the tagline reads: “It’s Never Too Early to create a legacy. Be Ages Ahead.” The advertisement is a surrogate advertisement for promotion of a liquor product – Seagram’s Blenders Pride and is misleading by implication.
 
Personal Care
 
The following advertisements were considered to be misleading and also likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
 
1. Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Health Care Limited (Head & Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo): In 3 advertisements - Print, Digital and Point of sale, the claim, “Keeps you up to 100% dandruff free” requires the adjective “up to” to have an equal emphasis in the super, in terms of font size, weight as well as colour, shape / bold characters, as it is an important descriptor for the claim to hold true. The advertisement’s claim gives the impression that it is able to provide “100% dandruff free” hair which is misleading and it contravened Chapters I.4 and I.5 of the ASCI Code and the ASCI Guidelines on disclaimers in advertising.
 
2. Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Health Care Limited (Head & Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo): The print advertisement’s claim, “Dandruff free smooth baal, Rs 2 ka kamaal” is misleading by implication that the product would be effective with a single use of a sachet. “Dandruff free” claim was not substantiated for “single sachet use” for Basic Smooth variant and is inconsistent with the disclaimer recommending regular use for efficacy.
 
3. GlaxoSmithKline Asia (Sensodyne Toothpaste): The advertisement’s claims, “That’s Why Dentist Recommended” and “Eight out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne for sensitive teeth” were not adequately substantiated. The findings of the dentist survey of 2015 showed that 80% of the dentists recommended Sensodyne toothpaste to their patients suffering from dentine hypersensitivity.  This data is considered outdated since it did not correspond to the current or the previous calendar year. The claim is misleading by implication.
 
Healthcare  
 
1. Netmeds Marketplace Limited: The advertisement’s claim, “Netmeds-the pharmacy with over 100 years of experience”, was neither substantiated with supporting evidence of the commencement of their business in pharmaceuticals field to prove 100 years of experience, nor did they provide any independent audit or verification certificate. 
 
2. Ayushakti Ayurved Pvt Ltd (Diabetox): The advertisement’s claims, “Controls sugar naturally”, “Reduces dependency of other medications”, and testimonials of Mr. Shashi and Mrs. Anuradha whose photographs have been shown in the advertisement as having benefitted from the treatment, were not substantiated with treatment efficacy data. 
 
Education 
 
1. FIITJEE LTD: The advertisement’s claims, “Nobody can compare with our results in JEE Advanced/ IIT-JEE, JEE Main, Boards, KYPY, Olympiads, NSEJS & NTSE”, “No one can beat our expertise- Our 26 years of unblemished record is filled with excellence and extraordinariness”, and “We are the only institute capable of training faculty for not just IIT-JEE/ JEE advanced but also for JEE Main, Boards, KYPY, Olympiads & NTSE. Other institutes have tried and failed miserably”, were not substantiated with verifiable comparative data, or through a third party validation.  The claims are misleading by exaggeration and likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.  
 
2. Landmark Immigration: The advertisement’s claim, “95% success rate*”, was not substantiated with third party validation or verifiable supporting data to prove their 95% success in enabling immigration for their students to study abroad. The claim, “No. 1 Consultant in India for Canadian and USA Colleges”, was not substantiated with third party validation or verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s institute and other immigration consultants in India, to prove that it is in leadership position (No.1) as compared to the rest.   
 
BARC Guidelines
 
The following five advertisements violated the BARC Guidelines; BARC Guidelines require that for any leadership claim, the period of comparison must cover at least four consecutive weeks, and at least four consecutive clock hours of data. The leadership claim in all five cases below were based on two consecutive hours instead of four, and hence violated the BARC Guidelines.
 
1. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV):  In the advertisement mailer dated 24th August, Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. 
                                                                                                                                                                       
2. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement mailer dated 31st August, Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. 
 
3. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement mailer dated 6th September, Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. 
 
4. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement mailer dated 14th September, “Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. 
 
5. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement mailer dated 20th September, Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. 
 
Others
                                                         
1.  Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Vim Anti Smell Bar): The advertisement’s claim, "New Vim” was misleading as the product with this formulation was launched in mid-2017. The advertisement was published in August 2018. Hence, the advertisement is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
 
2. LG Washing Machine: In the advertisement, the Ad – sticker displayed on the product (washing machine), did not provide details of the LG rat away technology used in their semi-automatic machine which keeps the rats away, thus preventing any harm to the machine.  The claim of “rat away” was unsubstantiated. Additionally, the claim of “India’s First” was not substantiated with comparative data, to prove that they are the first to use this technology. 
 
3. Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GoodKnight Patches):  The advertisement’s claim, “100% Natural”, is misleading by implication and omission. The claim does not mention that this claim is limited to only the active ingredients. 
 
SUO MOTO Surveillance by ASCI 
 
The following advertisements were in violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. The advertisers did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrities did due diligence prior to lending their name for the endorsements, to ensure that all claims, description and comparisons made in the advertisements are capable of substantiation, nor did the advertiser submit any testimonials or any evidence of the consent of the celebrity before endorsement: 
 
1. Lenskart.com (Lenskart Blu Smartphone Lenses): The advertisement’s claim, “Aankhe toh thakengi hi  ...kyunki digital screens Mein hoti hain harmful blue light… Jo na ruke ordinary lenses se…Na anti-glare se… Ruke to sirf lenskart blue lenses se…” was not substantiated with reliable evidence that digital screens emit blue light and its exposure is harmful to users. The advertiser did not submit any comparative data to prove the effectiveness of the Lenskart Blue Lens in obstructing the harmful blue light of the digital screen, compared to regular lenses and antiglare lenses. Also, the visual of Katrina Kaif urging customers to visit the Lenskart store for a Lenskart Blue demo when seen in conjunction with the claims is likely to mislead consumers regarding the product efficacy.  
 
2. Rasna International Pvt. Ltd (Native Hatt Aampanna): The advertisement’s claim, “No chemicals, preservatives”, was not substantiated with supporting data showing absence of any chemicals in the product. The claim is misleading by exaggeration, and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The advertiser did not provide any evidence to show that celebrity Kareena Kapoor had done any due diligence. 
 
Education
 
The CCC found claims in the advertisements by following 19 advertisers that were not substantiated and thus, in violation of ASCI Guidelines for Advertising for Educational Institutions.
 
1. Swami Vivekanand Center: The advertisement’s claim, “Institute that has given most State's selection” was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration.
 
2. Excellence Classes: The advertisement’s claim, “Institute in the state that has given highest selections and toppers” is unsubstantiated and misleading by exaggeration.
 
3. LNCT University: The advertisement’s claim, “The most trusted in MP”, was not substantiated with a third party validation or any supporting comparative data of the advertiser’s institute and other similar institutes in MP or market survey data.  The claim, “No. 1 Technical, Medical and Professional Group of Central India”, was not substantiated with a third party validation or verifiable comparative data, to prove that it is in leadership position (No.1).  
 
Healthcare 
 
1. Dabur India Limited (Dabur Honitus Syrups): The advertisement’s claims, “Chemical Free” and “Sahi hai, kyunki chemicals nahi hai” are misleading by omission that they are in reference to only allopathic actives. The claim “Sahi hai, kyunki chemicals nahi hai” unfairly denigrated other cough syrup brands containing allopathic ingredients which are legally permitted to be marketed in India.  
 
2. Dr. Batras Positive Health Clinic (Geno Homeopathy): The advertisement’s claims, “Treatment for today + Prevention for tomorrow” and “Prevents the risk of any hereditary illness through timely treatment”, were not substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration. The Gene based treatment cannot be termed as pure Homoeopathy as diagnosis and treatment in homoeopathy is based on history of the patient and signs and symptoms. For Homeopathy, history forms a very important tool for prescription of medicine, not genetic analysis. It is not possible to give homoeopathic treatment unless and until the symptoms appear. Also, Geno Homoeopathy is not recognized branch in India.   
 
3. Dr. Batra’s Positive Health Clinic: The advertisement’s claims (in Hindi) as translated in English, “Complete solution to hair” and “Complete solution to skin”, were not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence or treatment efficacy data.  Efficacies being depicted via images of before and after the treatment are misleading and imply cure from baldness and white spots (vitiligo).   
 
Food and Beverage 
 
1. Rex  (U&A) Remedies Pvt Ltd  – Food product (Heartorex Syrup): The advertisement’s claim, “Hum Heartorex pite hai, jo cholesterol ghata ta hai, blood ko patla karta hai, aur blockage bhi ghathi hai.”,  Voice over claim, “Heart rate ko normalize karta hai aur high blood pressure ko kam karta hai” implies that by consumption of the product there would be no chance of a heart attack and was not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence of product efficacy, and is misleading.
 
2. Sri Anagha Refineries Private Limited (Sun Premium Refined Sunflower Oil): The advertisement’s claim, “Prestigious rising brand of India award for the best in quality and fastest rising brand”, was not substantiated with copy of the award certificate, details of the criteria for granting the award, references of the award received such as the year, source and category.
Personal Care
 
1. Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Ponds Oil Control Face Wash): The advertisement’s claim, (in Kannada), “All day oil control” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by implication. The claim “control” implies maintenance of sebum level at a particular fixed value whereas, the product is demonstrating “reduction” in sebum and not “control” over the 12 hour period. The claim is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
 
2. Vcare Herbal Concepts (P) Limited (Vcare Shampoo Hair Colour): The advertisement’s claim, “Unlike others it does not have harmful substance like PPD that causes allergy, rashes, dermatitis and can also cause cancer”, was not substantiated with any evidence of the ingredients present in the product and with specific benefits attributable to the ingredients responsible for the hair growth.  The claim, “Hair growth factors that help to increase hair growth and colours hair in just five mins”, was not substantiated with product efficacy data.  
 
3. Maa Herbals (Maa Herbal Hair Oil): The advertisement’s claims, “Rich Source of Vitamin E stimulates hair growth”,  “Cures Hair Loss”, “Prevents migraine attacks”, and “Helps in blood pressure control”, were not substantiated with evidence of product efficacy.                                                                                                                                                   
 
Others  
 
1. Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd:  The advertisement’s claim, “Rupees one crore invested in value strategy has grown to Rupees 25.09 Crore in just 15 years”, was misleading by omission of appropriate disclaimers.
 
2. Pitambari Klenz Nanowash: The advertisement’s claim, “24 hour protection from Bacteria”, was inadequately substantiated, and is misleading by exaggeration.
 
3. Phoenix Agencies (Aqua Phoenix Water Purifier): The advertisement’s claims, “No.1 RO Water Purification System”, and “Most Reliable”, were not substantiated with a third party validation or any verifiable comparative data to prove that it is in leadership position (No.1) and more reliable than the rest. The source for the claim of being “No.1” was not indicated in the advertisement
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COMMENTS

Vasu

3 months ago

No one taking actions on Liquor Brands (with Logos) promoting glassware, soda in all forms of media for years ....

REPLY

Vasu

In Reply to Vasu 3 months ago

In fact these Liquor brands promote their brands, in indirect way thru glassware, sodas.. There are TV Programmes also. ..TeluguĀ“ popular TV Show (McDowell No.1 Yaari With Rana chat-show).
Also many Pan-Masaala ads these days.
In India, rules are bent always.... :-(

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