Comments sought on Draft Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advt in Coaching Sector

Aim is to prevent false claims regarding success rates, Consumer Authority solicits public comments/suggestions by March 16

GN Bureau | February 16, 2024


#Central Consumer Protection Authority   #Consumer Protection   #Business   #Education  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

The Central Consumer Protection Authority has sought public comments on the ‘Draft Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisement in Coaching Sector’.

The draft guidelines are placed on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs and are accessible through the link: https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/latestnews/Public%20Comments%20Letter%202.pdf.

Public comments/suggestions/feedback are solicited and may be provided to the central authority within 30 days (until March 16), an official release said on Friday.

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) conducted a stakeholders’ consultation on Misleading Advertisement in Coaching Sector on January 8, which was attended by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), Ministry of Education, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), National Law University (NLU) Delhi, FIITJEE, Khan Global Studies and Ikigai Law. In the meeting, there was a general consensus that the CCPA should come with Guidelines for prevention of misleading advertisement in coaching sector.

The draft guidelines have been framed after detailed deliberations with all stakeholders including coaching institutes, law firms, government and voluntary consumer organizations (VCOs) and are now being put up for public consultation. Proposed Guidelines shall be issued under section 18 (2) (l) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

The draft guidelines define “coaching” as tuition, instructions or academic support or learning programme or guidance provided by any person. Under the Guidelines, conditions for misleading advertisement have been laid out. Any person who engage in coaching shall be considered to be engage in a misleading advertisement if it employs any of the following practices:

a. Conceal important information related to name of the course (whether free or paid) & duration of course opted by successful candidate or any other important information which can influence a consumer's decision to choose their services.

b. Make false claims regarding success rates, number of selections, or rankings of students in any competitive exam without providing verifiable evidence.

c. Falsely represent that students' success is solely attributable to the coaching, without acknowledging the individual efforts of the students. Clearly state the extent of the coaching involvement in their success.

d. Create false sense of urgency or fear of missing out that may heighten anxieties amongst students, or parents.

e. Any other practices that may mislead consumers or subvert consumer autonomy and choice.
 
Guidelines would be made applicable to every person engaged in coaching. The objective of the Guidelines is to protect consumers from misleading advertisements in coaching sector. Thus, the proposed Guidelines seek to prevent such misleading advertisements which effects consumers as a class. Misleading advertisement by coaching sector will be governed as per Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and the proposed guidelines will bring clarity to the stakeholders and protect consumer interests.

For more information on the new guidelines, visit the link:
https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/latestnews/Public%20Comments%20Letter%202.pdf

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