The individual consumer has right as well as responsibilities expected of him/her in order to fully access or enjoy these rights. These responsibilities are actions that consumers should take to protect their interests. Here the specific responsibilities of the Consumer under the following sub-headings will be briefly highlighted below:
It is the responsibility of the consumer to be fully aware and well informed of the products he/she is purchasing. He should be able to know the use, content (chemical content or composition) of the product, how to care for it or use it. He should be able to know the side effects of such product if there are any. The Consumer can get all these vital information by carefully reading the labels, manuals or instructions labeled on packet of the product.
In addition, he/she must read newspapers, guides, magazines, listen to radio and television to get information on any product he/she is purchasing. This relevant information about the products will enable him/her to make informed choices. Nothing stops the consumer from asking questions where he/she feels uncertain, including the purpose and risks of the products and services recommended.
2. Demand And Keep Proofs Of Transactions
It is the responsibility of the consumer among other things, to demand for evidence or proofs of any transactions he/she engages with the seller/supplier. When he/she purchases any product, no matter the size or quantity involved, he/she should demand for invoice, which will specify the quantity bought, the rate at which it is sold and the discount if any; the total amount paid and if there is balance unpaid should all be indicated in the invoice.
Where payments are made, the consumer should demand for both receipts showing payment, and invoices showing quantity purchased. If there is any warranty or guarantee or any other document of any agreement to contract, the consumer has the responsibility to demand for all these are proofs and keep them in a secure place.
This is necessary, should the product purchased turn out to be a defective one; armed with the receipt and other documents the consumer can go back to the store/seller/supplier and make a complaint at the Customer Care Service. He/she can request for a replacement, refund or repayment depending on what he wants.
“There is a common law maxim warning a purchaser that he could not claim his purchases where defective unless he protected himself by obtaining express guarantees from the Vendor”.
3. Think Independently
The consumer owes it as a responsibility to think and act independently. He/she should not act under the influence of either the firm, producer, supplier or even co-buyers. Acting on information that is clear, fair, not misleading in all relevant aspects of the product provided the firm/producer concerned, the consumer takes responsibility for his or her decision. The consumer has the responsibility to make sure he or she understands what he or she is buying and tell the firm/producer/supplier if this was not the case. He/she has the responsibility to specify what he/she really wants and not what he/she was persuaded to buy. It is the responsibility of the consumer to discuss or canvas price before purchasing or signing any contract.
He/she should beware of special offers with free items and be sure if he/she was not paying for the offer of free items. In fact, the consumer has the responsibility of making an informed choice and if there is any mistake, consequence or miscalculation, should take the whole blame.
4. Speak Out/Be Bold
It is the responsibility of the consumer to speak out or voice out his/her feelings and interests to be heard by the relevant authorities. Consumers have the responsibility of organizing themselves into a registered, recognized and organized labour or trade group. They should form a pressure group with well articulated and coordinated goals and clear programmes which they can channel through appropriate medium to the relevant authorities.
The consumer has the responsibility to update himself/herself on consumer related issues through reading newspapers, government press release and listening to radio.
Consumer has the responsibility to attend public meetings where consumer related issues are being discussed, so that he/she could make an input or speak out. He/she has the responsibility to monitor the implementation of consumer’s laws and regulations to his/her area of residence.
5. Respect The Environment
The role of the consumer in today’s world has changed from seeking the satisfaction from goods and services to reconciling consumption with active citizenship, which links consumption to modern social issues such as environmental protection, sound business ethics, etc.
It is the duty of the consumer to beware of the kind and extent of pollution occurring in his immediate environment; this is to enable the consumer address problems properly. The consumer should be environment friendly by supporting products and services that harm the environment.
The consumer has it as a duty to participate in caring for our environment by practicing the 3Rs of environmental protection. These include:
i. Reducing the source of solid wastes by burying earth friendly products.
ii. Reusing products and containers as much as possible.
iii. Recycling waste products which will prolong the life of our landfills.