Whether they are shopping online, buying a second-hand car, or planning a vacation, all consumers deserve safe, quality products and services that work as advertised.
But when things go wrong, and companies expose unwitting consumers to dangerous or unethical practices, it’s the consumers who pay the price. And “sometimes the price can be our health, our rights, our lives,” says Consumer International, organizer of the global movement World Consumer Rights Day. Today is the day the organization reminds us to stand against this violation of trust and ensure culprits pay the price instead.
Why Is World Consumer Rights Day Important?
World Consumer Rights Day was established in 1983 and inspired by John F. Kennedy, the first world leader to formally address consumer rights issues. The date President Kennedy presented the Consumer Bill of Rights to Congress, on March 15, 1962, is the day we continue to observe the movement across the globe.
The universal goal of World Consumer Rights Day is simple: to help empower consumers to advocate for their welfare. Different countries vary in their specific protections against market abuses and social injustices. However, even in developed countries with strong, long-standing consumer protection laws, illegitimate companies continue to ignore the 8 basic rights.
You may have heard of the right to safety, or the right to clear and reliable information, for example. But in the U.S., infringements of just these 2 rights are endless. The FTC and FTA receive continued complaints about defective medical devices that cause injury or death, smartphones that explode in users’ faces, car crashes involving deficient vehicle safety systems, and most topically, drugs marketed as “safe” that lead to deadly addiction.
Break the Cycle, Know Your Rights
As consumers, we’re accustomed to feeling like the little guys against powerful corporations that exploit people for competitive advantage. We may feel frustrated, but we need not feel helpless. While Consumers International does its part to seek changes in government policy and corporate behavior, consumers have their own work to do to prevent misconduct and demand respect.
Recognizing our responsibilities as individuals is a good first step. The most important are to educate ourselves on consumer rights policies, make well-informed purchases, follow instructions and warnings carefully, and file reports and lawsuits when wronged.
It’s just as important to help educate others, of course, and that’s where World Consumer Rights Day comes in. The theme for this year is “Making digital marketplaces fairer,” building on the 2017 campaign to promote fair business in an increasingly digitized world. E-commerce presents many benefits, as a convenient way to buy, but also risks, by facilitating consumer fraud. And with the rapid growth of the internet, it’s escalating: In 2017, U.S. consumers alone lost $905 Million to scams, up $63 Million from 2016.
To help make digital marketplaces safer for everyone, use your voice. Try participating in local events aimed at promoting awareness, exercising your right to be heard by writing to local elected officials, or taking part in Consumers International’s social media activities. Using the #BetterDigitalWorld hashtag, you can share the organization’s social updates or your own ideas and experiences.
Visit this page to download resources, follow live blog updates, and explore an interactive map of events in each region.