The Rights of Consumers

Principles of Consumerism

Consumerism is the consumption of goods and services. It is the practice and policy of protecting the consumer by making him aware of defective and unsafe products, fraudulent advertising, labeling or packaging and misleading business practices.

The consumer is the one who buys and uses goods or services to satisfy his needs. In short, he is the end user of goods and services. The consumer has the money and the willingness to buy. Some consumers buy things they don't need, others buy more than they need, and others just simply buy the wrong things. Almost all consumers have limited budgets. Hence, spending more on one product means having less to spend on other goods and services.

Consumerism is based on two very important principles. First, every pur­chase costs something, either time, money or energy. Second, each individual is unique. Every consumer has individual desires and concerns different from others.

Consumerism includes activities such as researching, testing, and checking the prices of products sold in the market by consumers themselves. The govern­ment, on the other hand, both on the national and local levels, informs con­sumers about commercial products. Such information helps consumers make wise decisions. in choosing and purchasing goods and services.

The Rights of Consumers

Consumers have several rights asserted by consumer organizations in many parts of the world. They are:

1. The right to quality. Manufacturers claim that their products are of good quality. Warranties and money-back guarantees give assurances that a product will live up to the claims of the manufacturers. Most warranties are written statements promising that if the product fails to perform as the manufacturer said it would for a certain period of time, the product will be repaired, replaced or the money will be refunded.

Many manufacturers attach to their merchandise the warranty for a certain period of time..

2. The right to safety. Certification programs give consumers information about product safety. There are government agencies which play an im­portant role in ensuring the safety of goods

3. The right to information. Every consumer has the right to be protected against deceitful, dishonest or grossly misleading information, advertising, labeling, or other malpractices and to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice. Thus, Various laws protect the consumer's right to adequate, truthful information. The government and different consumer organizations fight deceptive sales methods. It may order a manufacturer to provide corrective advertising if misleading claims have been made.

Many food manufacturers inform consumers by means of fresh­ness labeling called open dating. A product is stamped with a date which is the last day it should be consumed to assure freshness and quality.

4. The right to choose. Some supporters of consumerism favor regulation of advertising in order to promote free and fair competition, thus giving the consumers a chance to choose the product to be purchased.

5. The right to compensation against damage. Every consumer has the right to compensation for misrepresentation or. for shoddy goods or services. An accepted form of arbitration for small claims and free legal aid where needed should be available.

6. The right to consumer education. To enable people to act as informed consumers throughout their lives, everyone has the right to consumer education. It will provide the consumers with greater knowledge about how to be effective buyers, how to shop wisely or manage their money intel­ligently.

7. The right to express consumer interests in the making and execution of government policy.

8. The right to healthy environment. Every consumer has the right to live and work in an environment which is neither dangerous nor threatening and which permits a life of well-being and dignity.

Duties of Consumers

If consumers have rights, they also have duties. It is the consumer's duty to inform the community, the government, the producers and sellers about their needs and the situation prevailing in the distribution and prices of goods and services. Consumers must organize a means to protect themselves from un­scrupulous manufacturers. An organized consumer movement will ensure protection against injurious and misrepresented goods. It is a means to demand correct information about goods, accurate advertisements and reasonable prices.

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