NEW DELHI: About one-third of the complaints received against misleading advertisements are from the healthcare industry, suggests data from the Ministry Of Consumer Affairs. Data suggests as many as 6,820 complaints were recorded at Ministry’s ‘Grievance Against Misleading Advertisements” portal from March 2015 and March 2018.
An official of the Ministry said that a maximum number of complaints is from the health sector. “Most complains are against misleading product claims. Like, through herbal medicines they claim to cure ailments like diabetes, stones, allergy and other common diseases,” said the official.
Cosmetic products are another category where manufacturers have been found overstating the claims or product results.
“Complaints regarding hair oils, beauty products are quite common. Many of the manufacturers have been found overstating the claims. Like in case of hair oil, some would claim that it would cure baldness,” added the official.
According to officials, of the total 2,070 complaints against health products, 133 have been rejected, 799 resolved, 445 are currently scrutiny with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and 693 have been referred to the regulators concerned. Consumer Rights activists blame lack of deterrence and enforcement as the main reason why consumers continue to be duped.
According to officials, the consumer affairs department has assigned the task of processing the complaints received through the GAMA portal to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) under a Memorandum of understanding.
“Complaints received through this portal are evaluated by ASCI and are processed through its Consumer Complaints Council.
In cases where the complaints are upheld, the advertisers are asked to modify or withdraw the misleading advertisements. In case of non-compliance, ASCI forwards such complaints to the concerned regulators to take necessary action,” added the official.
To tighten the noose on misleading advertisements and other consumer-related issues, the Government introduced the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha on January 5 this year.
The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of an executive agency to be called the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to deal with unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.
Officials said that the Bill empowers the CCPA to issue directions to the concerned trader to discontinue the misleading advertisement or to modify the same and to impose penalties against false advertisements.