What are services?

Last updated on Jun 7, 2022

Service means any activity made available to people, and it can include facilities related to banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, provision of electrical or other energy, telecom, boarding or lodging, housing construction, entertainment, amusement or the relay of news or other information(( Section 2(42), Consumer Protection Act, 2019.)).

‘Services’ include any activities carried out by one person for another, in return for some payment or other benefits such as gift vouchers, as part of an offer, etc. For instance, activities like haircuts, medical check-ups, packing-and-moving services, flour mills, massages, watch-repairs, etc. for payment would be considered as services. Broadly, it can be said that services include:

  • Business services: Business services are services that support the daily functioning and activity of any business, such as technological setup, website hosting, call centers, banking, transport service, telecom etc.
  • Personal services: Personal services are usually more individualistic in nature, such as catering, hotel accommodation, medicine, painting, sculpting etc.
  • Social services: Social services are usually funded by the Government, and include services such as housing, medical care to the underprivileged, primary education etc.

Services that are free of charge

Further, services that are free of charge(( Section 2(42), Consumer Protection Act, 2019.)),  are usually not covered under consumer protection laws(( Joint Labour Commissioner and Registering Officer and Another v. Kesar Lal, AIR 2020 SC 2596.)). In other words, unpaid services which are provided informally, rather than with an expectation of a fee, are not covered under consumer protection law. For example, if someone goes to a doctor for a medical check-up, but being an acquaintance, the doctor does not charge any fee, the patient cannot later sue the doctor for any deficiency of service, as it had been provided free of charge. However, a traveller buying a ticket for a train is a consumer, and can sue the railways for any deficiency of service including bad food service, bad hygiene standards etc((Commentary on Consumer Protection Act, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, accessed at, http://ncdrc.nic.in/bare_acts/1_1_2.html.


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