Are Consumer rights being upheld?


BY UNIVERSAL DECLARATION there are only eight (8) RIGHTS, which have been given the blessing by Consumers’ International (CI) in 1983 and, subsequently, by the United Nations (UN). For historical reasons, it is important to note that it was the late USA President John F. Kennedy who started the movement with the first four (4) RIGHTS DURING THE EARLY 1960’S.

            To ascertain if these rights are effectively upheld it would make sense to state each of them: 1. The Right to Satisfaction of Basic Needs. 2. The Right to Safety. 3. The right to Be Informed. 4. The Right to Choose. 5. The Right to Be Heard. 6. The Right to Redress. 7. The Right to Consumer Education. 8. The Right to a Healthy Environment.

It is not reasonable to have RIGHTS without RESPONSIBILITIES and we accept five (5) CASES OF CONSUMER RESPONSIBILITIES. If we had the authority two (2) new RIGHTS need to be added: We should be prepared to boycott and or protest, peacefully, to safeguard our rights, as consumers.

If an individual articulates his or her cause with a Retailer or Merchant and, as a result, gets a good deal that is fine. Does this mean that others, who are less fortunate members of society, will benefit from that victory? Not at all! This is why we need to unite.

The corporate sector is vital to the economic well-being of our society. It is, therefore, imperative that businesses engage in corporate

social responsibility practices that will assist the very consumers who keep the doors of commerce open.

Despite the passage of new Acts that should benefit consumers, the buyer/seller legal system is still operating under the Eighteen Nineties

(1890’s) Law that acknowledges “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware). That antiquated legislation is weighed in favour of the seller. It is time that the seller becomes aware, too. The new Legislation must, therefore, be reforming enough so that businesses are deceived into acknowledging caveat venditorthe Latin for (let the seller beware); there is need for equity for all people, thus eliminating unfair practices that force the sellers to be responsible.

Allow me to bring matters, topical as there are, to show that all is not well for some consumers. How is it that Teachers at the Alexandra School, operating at the pinnacle of all the professions, could be as unprofessional as to ignore that a section of the stakeholders in this matter, the students, will be adversely disadvantage, especially those preparing for exams?

Let us look at one other matter: what kind of mentality would lead a group of Engineers and others so responsible, to construct a Round-a-bout, where the island within the same is so large that it robs vehicular and pedestrian traffic of valuable road space?

Since some consumers do not fully understand that consumerism cannot be properly served by joining with others in order to secure discounts when purchasing goods or services that the business entities have to mitigate the prices so charged that these results in higher prices; even to the person receiving the discount. What is worst, the customer who is not privy to the discount is further fleeced by the businesses. What is crasser is that the businesses are gaining, unfairly, from this kind of intrusive endeavour that adversely affects the elevated rise in the cost-of-living.


Written by:
Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt
Founder, Consumer Analyst, Director-General.