50 Years ago, on March 15, 1962, JFK delivered an address on the rights of the consumer – “Special Message to the Congress on Protecting the Consumer Interest.”
In honor of Kennedy‘s speech, World Consumer Rights Day first took place on 15 March 1983 and has since become an important occasion for mobilizing citizen action.
- Consumers, by definition, include us all. They are the largest economic group in the economy, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision.
- The march of technology–affecting, for example, the foods we eat, the medicines we take, and the many appliances we use in our homes–has increased the difficulties of the consumer along with his opportunities; and it has outmoded many of the old laws and regulations and made new legislation necessary.
- Marketing is increasingly impersonal. Consumer choice is influenced by mass advertising utilizing highly developed arts of persuasion.
- Additional legislative and administrative action is required, however, if the federal Government is to meet its responsibility to consumers in the exercise of their rights. These rights include:
- (1) The right to safety–to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health or life.
- (2) The right to be informed–to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful, or grossly misleading information, advertising, labeling, or other practices, and to be given the facts he needs to make an informed choice.
- (3) The right to choose–to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices; and in those industries in which competition is not workable and Government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.
- (4) The right to be heard–to be assured that consumer interests will receive full and sympathetic consideration in the formulation of Government policy, and fair and expeditious treatment in its administrative tribunals.
To promote the fuller realization of these consumer rights, it is necessary that existing Government programs be strengthened, that Government organization be improved, and, in certain areas, that new legislation be enacted.