Every time you purchase something, let’s say a product or a service, you will be considered a consumer and laws exist to protect you. However, there may be times when transactions are misleading or fraudulent. This is where exercising your consumer rights comes into play. There is a lot to understand about it and groups like ConsumerShield have your back if you need consultations.

Consumer Rights: A Historical Overview

A right is defined as โ€œa just claim,โ€ meaning that you are authorized to obtain something. Among the many existing rights of an individual, let us dive deeper into your consumer rights.

Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy laid out the Consumer Bill of Rights. Here, consumer rights are defined as oneโ€™s right to safe and informed choices to ensure fair treatment and decision-making. 

The first four consumer rights were part of the initial bill set out in the 1960s. However, given the expansion of the bill and the rising needs in the industry, four more rights were added and enacted during the 60s and 70s.

The Bill Of Rights

The Consumer Bill of Rights contains the following ideas and here are their simple definitions:

  1. Right to Safety. Consumers must be protected from purchasing products or services that could endanger them. Hazardous ingredients or services that may destroy life and property must be quickly identified so that consumers can avoid them.
  2. Right to Choose. As consumers, you have the right to access different products and services and choose between them. There are all sorts of prices and qualities to choose from, and it is up to you to choose freely which one you would purchase.
  3. Right to be Heard. You have the right to have your complaints or comments heard. There are means for you to let businesses know that you are not satisfied with their products or services. Of course, without it being taken against you!
  4. Right to be Informed. Every consumer needs to know what they are purchasing. You have the right to be informed of the ingredients, expiry dates, or inclusions in every product you buy.
  5. Right to Redress. The right to redress refers to having problems resolved. Consumers must have the capacity to defend themselves from the exploitation, fraud, or misleading practices of sellers. This includes warranties, refunds, or product replacement for items that are not at par with what was marketed.
  6. Right to Consumer Education. Being a smart consumer all boils down to how much you know about the market. Hence, the right to consumer education has its place in the Bill of Rights.  Consumers should have access to education that will sharpen their knowledge in making informed and smart choices.
  7. Right to Service. All consumers must be treated equally and respectfully. There is no place for discrimination in providing services to every consumer.
  8. Right to a Healthy and Sustainable Environment. Lastly, consumers have the right to be within a sustainable place that upholds safety and health. 

Why Is This Important?

Initially, there were only four stipulated rights in the bill. However, as time went on, the rights included have expanded and now, we have eight rights for the betterment of consumer safety.

So, why are all of these important? You need to understand how the Consumer Bill of Rights affects the following:

  • Consumers. Of course, consumers are under the threat of so much fraud and misleading products and services that can endanger their health and well-being. With the bill in place, consumers can now make better choices, call out mistreatment from businesses, and hold fraudulent acts accountable.
  • Businesses. Contrary to what might be expected, businesses are not at a disadvantage with the stipulations of the bill. Businesses adhering to the bill have greater chances of being more sought after and could have higher chances of boosting their companyโ€™s profits.
  • Economic growth. The bills could also boost the growth of numerous businesses. Companies offering products and services parallel to the vision of the bill have a greater chance of being sought after by more consumers. Hence, the bill can be a driver for more businesses to do better, have competitive prices, and better quality products. All of these can induce exponential growth of the economy.

Conclusion

Buying products or purchasing services may sound straightforward. However, you must understand that there are laws in place that protect consumers and push for accountability in businesses.

The Consumer Bill of Rights has been implemented for numerous years already, and these have successfully put in place a safer and more accessible market for consumers. So, make sure that you are familiar with all of these and continue making smart choices as a consumer!