Today’s marketplace is flooded with products and services of every kind, ranging from top quality to poor and faulty ones. The frustration and anger we feel when we buy a faulty product, a product that doesn’t do what it advertised, or worse, a product that proves to be a health hazard, make us feel like we’ve been duped. Back in the day, there might have not been a strong need for consumer protection regulations. But as the market grew, the scope for malpractices and unfair trade also grew, and so did the need to protect consumers’ rights.
Every consumer is entitled to certain rights that protect them against the unfair practices of the trade, but very few of us actually know what they are. Here’s what you need to know about your rights as a consumer.
The Right to Be Informed
You have the right to receive accurate information about anything you buy. The keyword here is accurate because you can only make a wise and informed purchasing decision when you are provided with correct and precise details. This would include such things as the quantity, quality, ingredients, potency, standard, and pricing.
As a consumer, it is your duty to exercise this right by reading all about a product before purchasing it. Some people go beyond reading the label on a package and will read a fact sheet that states how a product is rated in regard to its safety, value, and performance.
The Right to Choose
Nowadays, the internet has made it infinitely easier for retailers and manufacturers to reach so many people in different parts of the globe. As a result, we now have an extremely large amount of goods and services to choose from at competitive prices. Without this right, we can fall prey to such practices as monopolism.
The right to choose ensures that we have healthy and competitive marketplaces with a wide variety of options. The role the government plays to ensure this right includes such acts as restricting time limits on patents and enforcing regulations that guarantee fair pricing.
The Right to Safety
We all have the right to remain safe when using a product. Manufacturers are under legal liability to provide safe products. This means they are legally responsible and required to create a product that is safe for use along with sufficient warning labels and instructions. For instance, tools and machinery and the likes must include safety devices to protect consumers.
From toys and devices to medicine and foods, companies must provide safe products, and inform us if anything in them may be hazardous to our health and well-being. Even in big cities that have strict consumer rights, such as Nova Scotia, Canada, dangerous products can make their way into the country. Time and time again we hear and read about cases where people have suffered an injury or experienced another form of damage because of a hazardous product. In this case, you might be entitled to a defective product liability claim. Injury lawyers inform us that these claims typically fall in one of three categories:
- A defect in the manufacturing of a product
- A defect in the design of a product
- Failure to provide appropriate warnings or instructions on how to safely use the product
The Right to Redress
We have the right to voice our complaints as well as be compensated for faulty or hazardous products. Certain outlets and entities provide a platform for consumers where they can express their complaints and have them heard. These platforms also work to help interaction between consumers and producers. Most people don’t know where to go or who to talk to when they have an issue with a product or service.
In most cases, many of us go back to the store we bought the product from, however, the store isn’t the manufacturer of the product. The best they can do is give you your money back but being reimbursed doesn’t solve the problem of a hazardous or faulty product. You need a platform to communicate with the product manufacturers. Many times, a complaint might seem of little value, but it could have a large impact on the market at large and must be taken seriously.
The Right to Service
As customers, we have the right to be treated in a dignified and respectful manner. It is expected for the claims made by manufacturers or retail sellers, such as prompt delivery, to be fulfilled as stated. More importantly, no one should be discriminated against. People are entitled to the right to service regardless of their age, gender, race, income, or religion. Such rights apply wherever we are being served.
The Right to Satisfaction of Basic Needs
Our purchasing ranges from the basic needs we need to survive to frivolous and luxury buying. Basic needs, as we know, include food, water, and shelter. They also include healthcare, education, clean water, sanitation, and public utilities.
Goods and services must meet a certain standard when being sold and if those standards are not met, your rights are being violated. Besides meeting a certain basic standard, manufacturers and producers must ensure that their goods are living up to the promises and statements made about them.
The Right to Consumer Education
We all know how to buy, but we don’t all know how the market really works. The right to consumer education states that you are entitled to learn how the market works. This also includes learning about some unethical tactics and techniques that some producers will use to encourage you to buy, allowing you to easily spot the red flags you want to avoid.
The common unethical tactics used in the market go beyond the stores that sell the exact same product for more money than other vendors. Unfortunately, there are many different forms of fraud that some retail stores might use to lure customers. Brands are not allowed to give misleading information, be it in their advertising or labeling of a product. For instance, celebrities that endorse various products should actually be active users of the product they endorse.
In the same way that you have consumer rights, you also have consumer duties. When you are provided with the correct information about a product or service, you can make better purchasing decisions after you understand that information. If you have done your part but the producers have not done theirs, don’t remain silent. Speak up and exercise your rights. You will be helping yourself and other consumers around you.