World Consumer Rights Day and Why you should care

Chances are high that you’ve purchased something recently, or at least, at some point in your life. That makes you a consumer. So, on March 15, you’ll be part of the reason why the world celebrates World Consumer Rights Day.  

If you have never heard about World Consumer Rights Day or even if you only have an inkling about what it is, then you are in the right place.  

As a consumer in a globally-connected economy, this day does and should mean something to you. In this article, we’ll share why as we uncover the origins of the day, what it encompasses, and how you can take part in it.  

Woman shopping for groceries
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What are the Basic Consumer Rights?

For some, shopping is fun and pleasurable. For others, it’s based on necessity. But for all, there are rights involved in the process.  

In the United States, consumers are entitled to the right to value for money, right to information, right to choose, right to consumer education, right to safety, and the right to representation.  

That is, when you go to make a purchase, you are entitled to a lot more than you may have ever thought. For starters, the information about the product should be disclosed. This could be with regard to where it was manufactured, how to care for it, what safety features to be aware of, and the like. As a consumer, you have the right to choose whether you want to buy something or not, as well as the right to representation should something go wrong.  

While some purchases may be quick and easy, others may require more due diligence. Think about what it’s like to buy or lease a car, or to purchase a home. Or even, to take out a loan. These decisions and investments require that you should have an idea of what to expect and are actually going to receive what you have paid for or enter a contract that is agreed upon from the get-go. It’s because of consumer rights that you can ensure this kind of peace of mind.

What is World Consumer Rights Day?

Every year on March 15, the world celebrates Consumer Rights Day. This is a day that acknowledges the inherent rights that consumers possess when purchasing a good or service, as listed above.  

But, how exactly did this come to be?  

Let’s dive into the history behind this important day.  

What is the History of World Consumer Rights Day?

World Consumer Rights has been celebrated since 1983. The day is supported by Consumers International, which is a global federation of consumer organizations that was founded in 1960. However, consumer rights were defined and declared a few decades before the day was officially conceived.   

On March 15, 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made a speech to Congress. In this speech, he coined the date as March 15 and also defined the four fundamental consumer rights that existed. He noted the right to choose, to be heard, to safety, and to be informed as said rights.  

In 1985, the United Nations approved the general guidelines for consumer protection.  

Although these rights exist, many consumers are unaware of them. While consumers have these rights, they also have the duty to remain ethical, be aware, speak out, and respect the trade environment.  

Why Does World Consumer Rights Day Matter?

Around the world, each country has its own variation and definition of consumer rights and what is protected by law. As a global organization, Consumers International makes it a point to host events and choose a theme each year to expand awareness for consumers.  

While it’s hopefully not often, there could be a chance that your rights as a consumer have been violated. And, without knowing you have these rights, you may be unaware that you have the protection needed to obtain justice or recuperate your potential losses. In fact, that’s why consumer protection laws exist. Such laws are geared towards securing a reliable market economy. This is especially necessary and useful in a country like the United States that operates under a free market economy.  

As such, sellers of goods and products are legally obliged to remain honest and transparent with their sales. These rights and laws exist so that consumers can shop and purchase with the knowledge and security that they are receiving what they paid for. At the same time, these rights help to protect against scams, fraud, data breaches, and more. If something does go wrong, then consumers can take action and have the right to do so.  

How to Part Take in World Consumer Right Day

Want to get involved? 

You can search your local community to see if there are any consumer rights events happening near you. Whether they are or not you can participate in observing this day by sharing this knowledge with those around you.  

Or, if you have a specific story that relates to consumer rights, consider sharing it, especially on March 15.  

An Informed Consumer Is a Safe Consumer

So, the next time that you consider or make a purchase, you may do so with a newfound attitude since you know your consumer rights. 

Before you go, it’s also good to know that: 

  • You can represent yourself as a consumer (that’s right, a lawyer may not be necessary should you have a case against a seller) 
  • You have the right to options, meaning that when you shop for a product, there’s freedom to choose between alternatives  
  • Only about 80 countries protect consumers online (so be sure to check if your country of residence is one of them that does)  
  • If you’ve been a victim of unfair trade practices, you may have the right to compensation  
  • When you are making a purchase, you have the right to know everything about the good or service, including quantity, potency, quality, price, ingredients, etc.  

On this day and always, happy shopping as a safe, protected, and educated consumer!  

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