Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. They may also provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation, which aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products—particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food. Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.
Consumer rights and consumer protection law provides a way for individuals to fight back against abusive business practices. These laws are designed to hold sellers of goods and services accountable when they seek to profit by taking advantage of a consumer’s lack of information or bargaining power. Some conduct addressed by consumer rights laws is simply unfair, while other conduct can be described as outright fraud. Consumer rights laws exist at the federal and state level. They are enforced by government agencies, offices of attorneys general, and through individual and class action lawsuits filed by victims.
Consumer Protection Law is an area of law managed by the Bureau of Consumer Protection and overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It protects you and me, consumers, from unethical and careless actions taken by businesses.
The Consumer Protection Bureau achieves this by setting and enforcing rules and regulations for every commercial transaction.
Plus by placing restrictions on how businesses may handle the transfer and security management of consumers’ personal information.
With this in mind, let’s continue by looking at the particular division of the Consumer Protection Bureau that dictates how your personal information should be handled.
Other organizations that promote consumer protection include government organizations and self-regulating business organizations such as consumer protection agencies and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission, ombudsmen, Better Business Bureaus, etc.
A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.
Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law.
Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism.
SECTION 5 OF THE FEDERAL TRADE ACT
The Consumer Protection Bureau enforces a section of the Federal Trade Commission Act known simply as “Section 5”.
This section of the FTC outlines that consumers should be treated fairly, and not deceived or put at risk due to unfair or deceptive acts performed by businesses.
Examples of unfair or deceptive actions:
- A statement, omission or practice likely to mislead the consumer, and;
- Practices likely to cause significant injury to consumers
In order to safeguard consumer interest, six consumer rights were initially envisioned by consumer rights activists of the West, namely:
- Right to Safety- means safeguarding against goods that are hazardous to life and properties.
- Right to Information-means that consumers have the rights to be informed regarding the price,quality,quantity,etc.,regarding the products.
- Right to Choice-refers that consumers should be provided wide variety of goods to choose from.
- Right to be Heard-means the right of the consumers complaints to be heard.
- Right to Redress-means that the consumers have the right to seek redressal regarding their complaint in the forums.
- Right to consumer education-the right of the consumers to be educated about their rights.
According to the Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection practices:
Product names, pricing, and claims must not mislead consumers.
Mostly, anything that would affect consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service must be truthful.
- Product packaging,
- digital media
A simple example of deceptive advertising:
An ice-cream promotes itself in a social media post as a dairy-free alternative. However certain ingredients are, in truth, derived from dairy products.
This would be a violation of consumer protection laws.
Also, an advertisement is classified as misleading if it fails to provide information necessary for the consumer to be well-informed.
A new dietary supplement promotes itself as a solution to a severe nutritional deficiency which leads to migraines.
The advertising fails to inform people that less than 1% of people suffering from migraines have this deficiency.
This is considered misleading and would be in direct violation of consumer protection laws because consumers are likely to assume that the supplement will help anyone with a migraine.
Speaking of which;
Both as business owners and consumers, we must be vigil when it comes to dietary supplements. This product category is especially susceptible to consumer deception and untruthful marketing.
Which is why…
The FTC has created an advertising guide for dietary supplements and weight-loss products to outline what marketers may, and may not do when promoting their product’s health benefits.
CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW AND ENVIRONMENTAL CLAIMS
The Federal Trade Commission stipulates that environmental claims should be:
- Truthful, and;
- backed up with evidence, such as official
Some commonly used environmental terms used are words like “biodegradable,” “recyclable,” or “Non-toxic.”
However, to remain compliant with Consumer Protection Laws, such claims need to be proven with certifications or clear explanations as to how they achieve that environmental claim.
Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions.
It’s a way of preventing fraud and scams from service and sales contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.
In Australia, the corresponding agency is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the individual State Consumer Affairs agencies. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has responsibility for consumer protection regulation of financial services and products.
A minister of the federal cabinet is responsible for consumer rights and protection (Verbraucherschutzminister). In the current cabinet of Angela Merkel, this is Heiko Maas.
When issuing public warnings about products and services, the issuing authority has to take into account that this affects the supplier’s constitutionally protected economic liberty, see Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court) Case 3 C 34.84, 71 BVerwGE 183).
In India The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 is the law governing consumer protection. Under this law, Separate Consumer Dispute Redressal Forums have been set up throughout India in each and every district in which a consumer [complaint can be filed by both the consumer of a goods as well as of the services] can file his complaint on a simple paper with nominal court fees and his complaint will be decided by the Presiding Officer of the District Level. Appeal could be filed to the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions and after that to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC). The procedures in these tribunals are relatively less formal and more people friendly and they also take less time to decide upon a consumer dispute when compared to the years long time taken by the traditional Indian judiciary. In recent years, many effective judgment have been passed by some state and National Consumer Forums. The Contract Act of 1982 act lays down the conditions in which promises made by parties to a contract will be legally binding on each other. It also lays down the remedies available to aggregate party if the other party fails to honor his promise. The Sale of Goods Act of 1930 act provides some safeguards to buyers of goods if goods purchased do not fulfill the express or implied conditions and warranties. The Agriculture Produce Act of 1937 act provides grade standards for agricultural commodities and live stock products. It specifies the conditions which govern the use of standards and lays down the procedure for grading, marking and packaging of agricultural produce. The quality mark provided under the act is known as AGMARK-Agricultural Marketing