Who Is A Consumer?
A Consumer is simply, someone who buys and uses products and services provided by a producer or a supplier. He is equally a person, who has indicated his or her willingness to obtain goods and/or services from a supplier with the intention of making use of it.
Put in another way, a Consumer is a person, who buys a commodity from another person; for example, if Mr. Ade buys bread from Mr. Obi for the family or his personal use, Mr. Ade is said to be a Consumer. This implies that any individual, who buys products or services for his personal use and not for manufacturing or resale, is called a Consumer.
8 Universal Rights Of A Consumer
Consumers have rights either as an employee or customer. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that these rights are protected. A consumer know his/her rights; know when he can take goods back and when to ask for a refund. We have Consumer Council, which is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair play are maintained.
There are eight universal rights of a Consumer. They are universal, because they are regarded as Human Rights. They include: right to basic needs, safety, information, choice, redress, consumer education, representation to be heard, healthy environment.
1. The Right To Satisfaction Of Basic Needs
The right to basic needs is the first universal consumer right which guarantees survival, adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education and sanitation.
In order to ensure the satisfaction of these basic needs, a consumer must do certain things. Simply put, the consumer has responsibilities either towards the right ot before making any purchase.
What A Consumer Should Do
1. Prioritize your need; that is choosing first the important or pressing ones.
2. Look for quality not quantity.
3. Be quality conscious, not brand conscious.
4. Do not engage in panic-buying.
5. In times of crisis/calamity, be vigilant in ensuring that basic commodities are available in your store/stock.
2. The Right To Safety
The second consumer right is the Right to Safety, which is the right to be protected against the marketing of goods or the provision of services that are hazardous or dangerous to health and life. For a consumer to enjoy this right he/she has to do the following duties:
1. A consumer should read all labels and product circulars before using a certain product.
2. If you are not sure of any product’s effectiveness, it will be good to ask a person who knows how the product works or how to operate or use it. Or better still, ask from the seller or manufacturer.
3. Keep certain products out of the reach of young children. Always watch out for special warning signs on the label of the product like “Not suitable for children below four (4) years” or “Poison” “For external use only”, etc.
4. Ask for a sample or tester, if you are buying products where only large containers are available.
5. Be on guard regarding products which are found to be hazardous or dangerous to health and safety.
3. The Right To Information
The third consumer right is the Right to Information, which is the right to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling; and the right to be given the facts and information needed to make an informed choice.
4. The Right To Choose
The Fourth Consumer right is the right to choose products at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
What a Consumer Should Do:
1. Specify what you really want. The biggest size may be cheaper but it may not be what you need.
2. Discuss price before you buy a product or sign a contract.
3. Read the manuals or instructions carefully.
5. If product testers are available, be sure to try or test one.
6. Beware of special offers like free items such as buy 2 take 1 free. Compare them with the regular priced items to be sure that you are not paying for the said free items.
5. The Right Of Representation
The Fifth Consumer right is the right to representation to be heard. Consumers have the right to express their interests and views through organized party/group in making and execution of government policies. This implies that while the government is making her policies and planning her programmes and projects, the interests of the consumers should be taken into consideration. That is why there are registered and recognized Trade Unions of all kinds in the countries of the world, including the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the world supervising body of trade unions.
6. The Right To Redress
The Sixth Consumer right is the right to redress which is the right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods and unsatisfactory services.
7. The Right To Consumer Education
The Seventh Consumer right is the Right to Consumer Education which is the right to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed Customers. Consumer should Read newspapers, magazines and other reading materials to educate them. Consumers should also get involved in public hearings and participate in seminars and conferences conducted by government.
8. The Right To A Healthy Environment
The eight consumer right is the Right to a Healthy Environment which is the right to live and work in an environment that is neither threatening nor dangerous, and which permits a life of dignity and well-being.
What a Consumer should do:
1. Beware of the kind and extent of pollution occuring in you locality, so that you would be able to address the problem.
2. Do your share in caring for our environment by practicing the 3Rs of environmental protection:
a. REDUCE: the source of solid wastes by burying.
b. REUSE: products and containers as much as possible.
c. RECYCLE: products to reduce wastes.