"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," declared President John F. Kennedy during a 1962 speech to Congress about the importance of protecting the consumer interest. Shortly after, Congress enacted the Consumer Bill of Rights, an international standard of eight basic consumer rights recognized by the United Nations and its participating members.
Right to Safety
The Consumer Bill of Rights protects consumers from products, manufacturing practices and services that could be detrimental to their health or life. To maintain this right, consumers must use a product for its intended purpose and properly follow its instructions and warnings.
Right to Be Informed
Companies must supply all the information necessary for consumers to make intelligent and informed decisions about a particular product or service. The Consumer Bill of Rights prohibits companies from furnishing "dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling."
Right to Choose
Consumers have the right to choose from a variety of products and services. Distributors must set prices based on a competitive marketplace and guarantee the quality of their products or services.
Right to Be Heard
Governmental entities to take consumer interests under consideration when implementing policies, whether through regulations passed by administrative bodies or laws set by legislatures. Additionally, businesses must address customer concerns during development and production of goods and services.
Right to Satisfaction of Basic Needs
Consumers must have suitable access to necessary goods and services, such as food, shelter, education, health care and sanitation.
Right to Redress
Customers must have an avenue to receive compensation for the unsatisfactory performance of services and inferior products, or damage inflicted from their use.
Right to Consumer Education
Programs and information must be made available to consumers, enabling them to make informed decisions about products and services.
Right to Healthy Environment
Businesses and governing bodies have the responsibility to establish policies, both in the production and regulation of goods and services, that do not harm the natural world. These policies should help ensure consumers live in a clean, safe, sustainable and healthy environment.