The UN guidelines on the consumer protection
The consumer protection is the practice or method adopted to safeguard the rights of the consumer against the malpractices in sale and purchase of goods and services at various levels. These consumer protection rights are guided and enforceable by the law. If anyone found indulging in malpractices in sale and purchase of goods and services, then he is given the punishment decided by the law.
The main motive of these laws is to prevent the businesses from malpractice, unfair trade practices, fraud etc. to mislead the consumers and to gain unfair advantage over their competitor.
The objectives of the United Nations guidelines on consumer protection are
- To help the nations around the world and to provide protection to their population as a consumer.
- To make the process and distribution of the goods and services according to the needs and desires of the consumer.
- To promote the ethical code conduct for the producers of goods and services.
- To help the countries to fight against the abusive business practices at national and international levels.
- To promote the development of independent consumer groups.
- To increase the international cooperation among countries in the field of consumer protection.
- To promote the sustainable consumption.
- To promote the market conditions which provides consumer with greater choice at lowest possible price.
United Nations principle for a good business practice
- Equal and fair treatment
- Fair commercial behavior
- Raising awareness and educating consumers
- Protecting the privacy of the consumers
- Complain handling mechanism
Equal and fair treatment
The business should treat their customers equally without any discrimination at all stags of relationship. It should completely avoid such practices that are harmful for consumers specially for the customers with disadvantage.
The business should ensure a transparent process of sale and purchase of goods and services to avoid any kind of trust issues with the consumers. It is the duty of the business to provide the necessary information about the product like weight, terms and conditions, applicable fees, expiry date etc.
Fair commercial behavior
The business should avoid all such activity that is illegal, discriminatory, deceptive, and unethical. Practices of abusive marketing, abusive debt collection, or any kind of behavior that may harm the consumers should be avoided. The business as well as its agents should be aware about protecting the interest of the consumer and should have the responsibility to uphold the protection of the consumer.
Raising awareness and educating consumers
It is the duty of every business to educate the consumers, they should develop multiple programs and workshops where they can contribute towards enhancing the knowledge and skills of the consumers about their products and all the risks associated with it.
Protecting the privacy of the consumers
The business should insure to take utmost care about the privacy of the consumers like their contact numbers, emails, name, address, etc.
Complain handling mechanism
There should be a proper mechanism to take care of the complaints of the consumers after the sale is done, like if the product found to be defective or not as per the description provided by the seller then the company has the duty to register their complain and provide required solution in terms of replacement or refund.
Some of the general principles of United Nations on consumer protection are
The general principles of united nations on consumer protection emphasizes to develop, strengthen, and maintain a strong consumer protection policy among member countries. The member country should set their own standards and protection of consumers according to their economic, environmental, political and population.
These general principles are
- To provide access to consumers to essential goods and services.
- To protect the disadvantageous and vulnerable consumers.
- To protect the consumers from hazards to their safety and health.
- To promote and protect the economic interest of the consumers
- To provide access to consumers about the information and make choices according to their needs and wishes.
- Educating the consumers about environmental, societal and economic consequences of their choice.
- To let them know about the availability of the various consumer dispute redressal platforms.
- To provide freedom to form consumer and various other related organizations or groups to present their opinion and views in the process of decision making.
- To promote the sustainable pattern of consumption.
- To provide the protection to the consumers using e-commerce platforms.
- To protect the privacy of the consumers and the global free flow of information.
Guidelines for home produced goods and services and for imports
National policies for consumer protection
All the members should establish the national policy that promotes good business practices, clear and time to time information to the consumers to connect and contact the businesses easily.
Physical safety of the goods
The member countries should promote the appropriate measures, including the legal system, standard of safety, national and international standards, and various other standards to ensure that the product are safe or immediate or future use.
Promoting the economic interest of the consumers
The member countries should promote the economic interest of the consumers and enable them to obtain the maximum benefits from their economic interests. They should also focus to achieve the goals of production and the performance standards, fair business standards, distribution process which can directly affect the economic interest of the consumers to enable them to exercise their choice in the markets.
Setting the standard for safety and quality of consumer goods and services.
The member states should set the standard of the various goods and services in terms of quality and safety and ensure that all the companies should strictly follow. The national and international standard for safety must be considered before designing the goods and services.
Dispute resolution mechanism
Member countries should encourage the fair, transparent and effective mechanism to handle the complaints regarding the goods and services and ensure that there is complete justice to the person concerned if the manufactures or the service provider found to be guilty and appropriate remedy in terms of compensation or punishment must be given to the consumer.
Author: Rohit Soni,
NMIMS Kirit P Mehta School of Law, First year student