Consumers have considerable rights when it comes to pursuing claims against negligent companies that provide services and manufacturers that create products. Companies that fail to uphold consumer rights can face fines and settlements for their negligence.
(Article continues below Infographic)
Consumer Rights Under the Law
Consumer rights were first outlined by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. These rights were formalized by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 1972 and have been updated and amended over the years to include the following rights that form the basis for the majority of consumer rights claims:
The Right to Safety – This includes protection from hazardous products and materials that may cause injury or death. For example, consumers have a right to be protected against batteries that may explode, substances that may cause cancer, etc. This right to safety is protected through the actions of the CPSC.
The Right to be Informed – Consumers have the right to be notified of product function, usage, and safety warnings. As such, companies are required not to mislabel or use false advertising in order to promote sales of their products. Examples of laws that product a consumer’s right to be informed include the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the Truth in Lending Act, and the Wholesome Meat Act.
The Right to Redress – Consumers and their consumer rights attorney have a right to pursue claims against companies that fail to protect the consumers right to safety and against companies that deliberately mislead consumers into purchasing their products. The right to redress includes the right to receive a fair and just settlement of claims.
The Right to Choose – Consumers have a right to be protected from unfair business practices that limit choice within the marketplace. Violations include things such as price manipulation and deceptive trade practices that prevent consumers from having a choice of products. Examples include patent law, protections against price gouging, and anti-trust laws.
Defending Consumer Rights
Companies who violate these basic consumer rights can face fines and penalties levied by state and federal agencies. Moreover, consumers may file civil claims against companies whose products cause injury or death, or whose business practices are misleading or deliberately limit consumer choice in the marketplace.
Such actions may include private lawsuits or class action lawsuits as is the case against companies such as Volkswagen for their false advertising regarding their diesel vehicle’s performance, and Samsung for the sale of their defective and exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7.