There is every likelihood that you might have returned a product you bought before – because it was defective, did not fit and wasn’t what you expected it to be. Beside this, there must have been a time when as a consumer, you had a tough time in trying to get your money back. You alone have not experienced this. Nevertheless, all of these took a new turn when President Kennedy introduced the consumer rights law in Congress in March 1962. This was not possible without the help of Helen Ewing-Nelson, a consumer rights activist, and Fred Dutton. Through them, it was possible for him to bring forth four basic rights that protected consumers, which was later increased to eight.
The eight consumer rights law does not only cover the rights of the consumers, but has grown to include the basic human necessities of life such as shelter, water, and food. However, these rights bring responsibilities and consumers must be able to earn these rights and put them to action wisely, and not merely taking advantage of them. Therefore, our focus today is on the rights and responsibilities of consumers as it relates to their daily lives. Even if you have not an issue with an item bought, you need this information for your neighbor, remember no knowledge is lost.
The Consumer Bill of Rights
What other way to take off then starting with the first four basic rights by John F. Kennedy. Prior to consumers having these rights, businesses did not have a responsibility in hearing or compensating customers concerning a particular product. There was not any recourse for people who have been injured by products or victims of fraud when trying to seek retribution from the manufacturers or companies. This is why the consumer rights law came into being. The following are the first rights.
- The Right to Safety: This right has to do with any product apart from automobile, that has the tendency of causing bodily harm to the consumer. Much attention was given to this right in 1972 when the US government formed the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This setup safety and standards regarding performances for products, requiring them to have warning labels or being tested. Equally, the responsibility of the consumer here is to follow all directions, use the product safely, and be conscious of future warnings.
- The Right to Be Informed: This right focuses on the company in providing accurate and honest information to enable the consumer to make informed and intelligent choices. This consumer rights law encompasses all products, nevertheless, the aim of the right is to eliminate deceptive information in areas such as packaging, labeling, advertising, and financing. An example of this right includes; the Wholesome Meat Act, Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, and the Truth in Lending Act. The duty of the consumer lies in their responsibility in analyzing product information and using it wisely.
- The Right to Choose: Consumers have the right to choose from a different variety of products and the environment has to be conducive, and healthy. Laws regarding the environment have been passed by legislation regarding anti-trust, patent law, gouging, and price-cutting.
- The Right to be heard: Consumers are entitled the right in expressing their concerns and complains regarding unsafe goods and services. Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau has the responsibility of dealing with situations such as this because there is not any official forum where consumers can make their complaints to be heard. It is the responsibility of the consumer to express their concern when deemed necessary.
1985 Expansion of Rights
- The Right to Satisfy Basic Needs: As people have the right to have access to the necessities of life such as education, water sanitation, health care, clothing, and food, the consumers also have such right.
- The Right to Redress: Perhaps a consumer felt he or she was deceived or cheated due to shoddy products, misrepresentation, or unsatisfactory services, according to consumer rights law, they have the right of requesting either money or other benefits in making up for their loss. Their responsibility is seeking for appropriate compensation.
- The Right to Consumer Education: It is the right of consumers to be properly informed concerning making a purchase. Therefore, information regarding such product should be readily available and understood easily. As the products evolve and information changes, the consumers has to be informed.
- The Right to a Healthy Environment: This came out from the rights of the consumer and integrated into the basic human rights. People are afforded the right to work and live in a healthy environment that does not threaten their life. This right primary is not for people of this generation, but for future generations.