Asserting your consumer rights should be no hindrance to attaining consumer satisfaction. Speaking out against a business or company is uncomfortable and potentially costly to some. However, a business or company that allows itself to be critiqued by its consumers proves its decency and genuine intent to serve its consumers. So don’t fault yourself for overthinking about getting negatively affected by your own opinion. Moreover, your opinion matters. Your rights matter. You matter. Go ahead, know your rights, and assert yourself!
A Guide for Asserting and Practicing Your Consumer Rights
1. The Right to Basic Needs
It’s okay to prioritize your needs as a consumer, especially when it comes to food, water, clothing, and shelter. However, do remember to prioritize value for money and quality, not brand identity or quantity. Avoid panic buying to ensure that everyone else can exercise their right to basic needs in times of crises or calamity.
You may need to cut down on spending on unnecessary goods, products, and services. You may also need to ask for charitable help.
2. The Right to Safety
Read all product labels and circulars before buying and using a certain product, especially if you’re allergic to something. Stay abreast of the news. You never know which new good or product just got recalled or was discovered to be hazardous. Be responsible for other people in your household or immediate vicinity (i.e., children) concerning the use of certain goods and products.
When doubtful of a good or product’s effectiveness, ask for a professional consultant or anyone who genuinely knows how the good or product works. Ask for a sample or do a test run before purchase, if you can. If you have more doubts about a good or product’s safety and general performance, return to the establishment with your official proof of purchase or warranty. It may help to write down all your queries, concerns, and consumer complaints. If no one can address your issues thoroughly, try getting ahold of the manufacturer or supplier.
3. The Right to Information
Research what you can on what you want to buy before purchasing them. Information regarding good and product use, content (if applicable), stock, and reviews should always be available for consumption. Remember to read and understand all provisions in the documents related to your purchases. In addition, the name and address of the manufacturer or supplier should be known in case the need arises.
You can get in touch with peers who purchased similar goods or products. You may also contact the manufacturer or distributor directly if you need more detailed information.
4. The Right to Have Choices
Remember to specify what you want or need. You are well within your right to check on the prices of similar goods or products before purchase.
Read online manuals or instructions carefully to compare one product from another thoroughly.
Contact the manufacturer or supplier to inquire more about the good or product. Regarding services, emailing an official representative from the involved establishment with helpful suggestions to improve their services is always a good idea.
5. The Right to Be Heard
You can be part of a consumer collective and have a platform to use your voices as consumers and express your concerns to legislators.
Being part of a consumer group is good because your collective appeal will be heard and heeded better. Also, you can always coordinate with legitimate and accredited consumer organizations in your locality. When in doubt, get a lawyer.
6. The Right to Redress
Returning defective purchased goods and products to the store of origin is a proper exercise of this right. However, do not sell a defective, faulty, or recalled good or product. You will be held liable. Instead, request a replacement, refund, or repair of the good or product. Keeping documents related to your defective purchases, such as official receipts, is prudent, especially if you get involved in a legal case.
Get a lawyer. If legal mediation fails, arbitration follows. The process is similar to that of a regular court hearing. However, a formal hearing will be conducted if no settlement is reached.
7. The Right to Consumer Education
Voraciously read newspapers, magazines, and other pertinent literature for articles that may educate consumers on how to get the best value for their money and how to avoid getting scammed. In addition, participate in seminars, conferences, and online forums conducted by government agencies, consumer groups, and companies regarding consumer products, new concepts, and others.
Write a letter to consumer columnists to share your opinions and concerns. Inquire about consumer education activities in schools.
Inform government officials via official correspondence on issues or legislation you think will affect you greatly as a consumer.
8. The Right to a Healthy Environment
Remember the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) and be aware of the kind and extent of pollution occurring in your area.
Inform local officials and consumer organizations regarding illegal activity negatively impacting the environment, such as illegal logging, improper waste disposal, etc., committed in your area. Ensure that your surroundings (and air & water) are clean and relatively safe from pollution. Encourage proper waste disposal, segregation, and recycling in your community.
Deinah Storm used to work in the corporate world as a marketing affiliate. She quit her job to pursue her passion for writing, but to this day, Deinah is committed to educating consumers about the different marketing scams and how to avoid them.