Consumer protection is a very important topic for the community, which incidentally is never separated from consumption activities. Implementing consumer protection is to connect various dimensions that have relationship and dependence between consumers, entrepreneur, and the government.
In Indonesia, the legal basis for consumer protection are:
- 1945 Constitution article 5 paragraph (1), article 21 paragraph (1), article 27, and article 33.
- Law No. 8 of 1999 concerning Consumer Protection (State gazette of Republic of Indonesia of 1999 No. 42 additional of State Gazette of Republic of Indonesia No. 3821) (“Consumer Protection Law”)
- Law No. 5 of 1999 concerning Anti-Monopoly Practice and Unfair Business Competition.
- Law No. 30 of 1999 concerning Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Government Regulation No. 58 of 2001 concerning Development on Supervision and Implementation of Consumer Protection
- Circular Letter from Director General of Domestic Trade No. 235/DJPDN/VII/2001 concerning Guidelines for handling of consumer complaints addressed to all Province/District/City Department of Industry and Commerce
- Circular Letter from Director General of Domestic Trade No. 795 /DJPDN/SE/12/2005 concerning Consumer Complaints Service Guidelines.
According to Janus Sidabalok in his book titled Protection Law in Indonesia, published by Citra Aditya Bakti, 2006, consumer protection law is a law governing the provision of protection to consumers in order to fulfill their needs as consumers. Further, according to Janus, consumer protection law regulates the rights and obligations of consumers, the rights and obligations of entrepreneurs, as well as the ways to defend those rights and carry out these obligations. According to Article 1 number 1 of the Consumer Protection Law, consumer protection is any effort that guarantees legal certainty to provide protection to consumers. Consumer protection talks about guarantees or certainty about the fulfillment of consumer rights. Consumer protection covers two main aspects, namely:
- Protection against the possibility of delivering goods and or services to consumers that are not in accordance with what has been agreed or violated the provisions of the law. This covers a wide range of fields, ranging from the use of raw materials, the production process, the distribution process, product design, to the compensation received by consumers in the event of a loss due to consuming an unsuitable product.
- Protection against the imposition of unfair conditions on consumers. This is closely related to the behavior of producers in producing and distributing their products, ranging from promotional and advertising activities, standard contract, prices, to after-sales services.
The principles adopted in consumer protection according to Article 2 of the Consumer Protection Law are:
1. Principle of benefit.
This principle is intended to mandate that all efforts in the implementation of consumer protection should provide maximum benefits for the interests of consumers and entrepreneur as a whole (Elucidation of Article 2 of the Consumer Protection Law).
2. The principle of justice.
The application of this principle can be seen in Articles 4–7 of the Consumer Protection Law which regulates the rights and obligations of consumers and entrepreneurs. It is hoped that through this principle, consumers and entrepreneurs can equally receive their rights and fulfill their obligations.
3. The principle of balance.
Through the application of this principle, it is hoped that the interests of consumers, entrepreneur, and the government can be actualized equally, no party get more protection.
4. The principle of consumer security and safety. It is expected that the application of the Consumer Protection Law will provide guarantees for the security and safety of consumers in applying, using and utilizing the goods and/or services that are consumed or used.
5. The principle of legal certainty.
This principle is intended so that both consumers and entrepreneurs obey the law and obtain justice in the implementation of consumer protection, and the state guarantees legal certainty.
The enactment of the Consumer Protection Law is expected to provide certain guidance on the implementation of consumer protection in Indonesia. All parties must exercise their rights and obligations in accordance with what has been determined. Law enforcement against violations of the implementation of consumer protection is carried out in accordance with predetermined rules and consider the fairness and benefits for the parties.
Ahmadi Miru and Sutaraman Yado suggest that the substance of Article 2 of the Consumer Protection Law and its elucidation shows that the formulation refers to the philosophy of national development namely human development based on the philosophy of the Republic of Indonesia. This is also in accordance with the general explanation in the Consumer Protection Law, that the Consumer Protection Law was formulated with reference to the philosophy of national development.
The following are the objectives of consumer protection described in Article 3 of the Consumer Protection Law:
- Increase consumer’s awareness, ability, and independence to protect them. Consumer protection is not always related to the enforcement of the norms of the Consumer Protection Law. Before entering into the law enforcement, consumer protection is more about increasing consumer awareness, ability and independence to protect them. Consumer awareness on the importance of consumer protection is to prevent losses that may arise. By increasing consumer awareness, consumers will be more careful in consuming or using goods and/or services. Increased ability and independence of consumers is intended so that consumers have the ability and independence to avoid the possibility of losses due to the circulation of goods and/or services in the community.
- Raise the dignity of consumers by avoiding negative access to the use of goods and/or services. Consumers in their weak position are often become the object of entrepreneurs. A weak position often results in a weak bargaining position compared to entrepreneurs. For this reason, the paradigm is that consumers must be equal with entrepreneurs. Consumers are no longer objects, but rather are one of the subjects in trading activities, where both entrepreneurs and consumers are 2 (two) equal parties and need each other. One way that can be done to lift the dignity of consumers is campaigning intelligent consumers.
- Increasing the empowerment of consumers in choosing, determining and demanding their rights as consumers. Consumer empowerment is one effective way to implement consumer protection. One way to empower consumers is to equip consumers with knowledge of consumer protection law, so consumers are expected to have knowledge in demanding their rights as consumers.
- Creating a consumer protection system that contains elements of legal certainty and information disclosure and access to information. The enactment of the Consumer Protection Law has established various rights and obligations for consumers and entrepreneurs. These rights and obligations are guidelines that must be obeyed by consumers and entrepreneurs. Violation of the norms of the Consumer Protection Law has the consequence of the possibility of a lawsuit from one or a group of consumers, the Non-Governmental Consumer Protection Institute, or the government or related agencies. The Consumer Protection Law has provided conveniences and access to consumer dispute resolution through Consumer Dispute Resolution Agency in addition to the settlement of consumer disputes in court.
- Raising awareness of businesses about the importance of consumer protection so that an honest and responsible attitude grows in the business. The enactment of the Consumer Protection Law is expected to increase business awareness of the importance of consumer protection. Entrepreneurs cannot only prioritize their personal interests by ignoring the interests of consumers. Entrepreneurs in offering and/or marketing their products should be honest and responsible, because basically entrepreneurs are responsible for the circulation of products in the community (product liability).
- Improving the quality of goods and/or services that guarantee the continuity of the business producing goods and / or services, health, comfort, security, and consumer safety. The enactment of the Consumer Protection Law is not intended to kill business activities of entrepreneurs. However, it is expected to be able to spur improvement in the quality of the goods and/or services it makes. In the midst of existing business competition consumers will tend to choose goods and/or services that have good quality, and are safe to use or consume. Such conditions spur entrepreneurs to always improve the quality of the goods and/or services they market if they do not want to be abandoned by their consumers.
INSTITUTION/AGENCY AND ITS ROLE IN CONSUMER PROTECTION.
National Consumer Protection Agency.
The Consumer Protection Law states that there is a National Consumer Protection Agency (BPKN). The function of BPKN is only to provide advice and consideration to the Government to develop consumer protection in Indonesia. To carry out this function, this body has the following tasks:
- Provide advice and recommendations to the government in the context of formulating policies in the field of consumer protection.
- Conduct research and studies on the applicable laws and regulations in the field of consumer protection.
- Conduct research on goods and/or services concerning consumer safety.
- Encourage the development of non-governmental consumer protection institutions.
- Spread information through the media about consumer protection and promoting alignments with consumers.
- Receive complaints about consumer protection from the public, non-governmental consumer protection institutions, or entrepreneurs.
- Conduct a survey concerning the needs of consumers.
Non-Governmental Consumer Protection Institutions
Due to the increase of intense competition in gaining market share through a variety of products, therefore the Non-Governmental Consumer Protection Institute (LPKSM) is needed to seriously monitor entrepreneurs/sellers who only pursue profit by ignoring the quality of products. In connection with the implementation of consumer protection, the Consumer Protection Law regulates the duties and authority of LPKSM as stipulated in article 44, namely:
- The government recognizes LPKSM that meets the requirements.
- LPKSM has the opportunity to play an active role in implementing the consumer protection.
- The duties of LPKSM include the following activities:
- Spreads information in order to improve public awareness of the rights and obligations and caution in consuming or using goods / services.
- Gives suggestions to consumers who need their service.
- Cooperates with related agencies to implement consumer protection.
- Assists consumers in fighting for their rights.
- Conducts joint supervision with the government and the public for the implementation of consumer protection.
CONSUMER DISPUTE SETTLEMENT
1. Dispute Settlement through court
Consumer disputes in this case are limited to civil disputes. The litigation procedure is preceded by the filing of a statement of claim to the civil case registrar in the district court. Article 45 paragraph (1) of the Consumer Protection Law states:
- Any disadvantaged consumer can sue the business actor through an institution tasked with resolving disputes between consumers and business actors or through the general courts.
- Settlement of consumer disputes can be reached through the court or outside the court based on the voluntary choice of the parties to the dispute.
- Settlement outside the court as referred to in paragraph (2) does not eliminate criminal liability as provided for in law.
- If an effort to settle a consumer dispute resolution outside the court has been chosen, a lawsuit through the court can only be taken if the attempt is declared unsuccessful by one of the parties or by the disputing party.
The importance of legal protection for consumers is due to the weak bargaining position of consumers. Legal protection for consumers requires taking sides to a weak bargaining position (consumers). (Source: Sudaryatmo, Consumer Law and Advocacy)
Being a smart consumer, who understands his rights and obligations as a consumer is a must. Do not let the rights as consumers be ignored because of the lack of understanding of consumer protection.
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 Husni Syawali, Hukum Perlindungan Konsumen, (Bandung : Mandar Maju, 2008), pg 7