CCPA seeks feedback on guidelines to curb misleading coaching advertisements

Srinagar Feb 16: The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has sought public comments on draft guidelines for the prevention of misleading advertisements in the coaching sector.

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

The department has stated that the public suggestions and feedback should reach the concerned central authorities within 30 days (till March 16).

The CCPA conducted a stakeholders consultation on misleading advertisements in the coaching sector on January 8 2024, 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 consensus that CCPA should come up with Guidelines for prevention of misleading advertisement in the coaching sector,” the statement reads.

Notably, the draft guidelines for the prevention of misleading advertisements in the coaching sector have been framed after detailed deliberations with all stakeholders including coaching institutes, law firms, Government and Voluntary Consumer Organisations (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,” it reads.

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,” it reads.

The CCPA has stated that any person who engages in coaching shall be considered to be engaged in a misleading advertisement if it conceals important information related to the name of the course (whether free or paid) and duration of the course opted by the successful candidate or any other important information which can influence a consumer’s decision to choose their services.

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

The CCPA has stated that if any coaching centre falsely represents that students’ success is solely attributable to the coaching, without acknowledging the individual efforts of the students, it will be considered a misleading advertisement.

“The coaching centres should not create a false sense of urgency or fear of missing out that may heighten anxieties amongst students, or parents.

Any other practices that may mislead consumers or subvert consumer autonomy and choice,” it reads.

The CCPA has stated that the guidelines would be made applicable to every person engaged in coaching and the objective of the guidelines is to protect consumers from misleading advertisements in the coaching sector.

“Thus, the proposed guidelines seek to prevent such misleading advertisements which affect consumers as a class. Misleading advertisement by the coaching sector will be governed as per the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and the proposed guidelines will bring clarity to the stakeholders and protect consumer interests,” the CCPA statement reads.

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