Consumer protection describes various laws, which are designed to protect consumers from unfair and bad business practises. Some of the legislations deal with the consumer's safety; other laws attempt to protect the consumer from exploitation by strong or unethical firms. The UK government and the EU pass laws to protect the interest of consumers and employees, failure to protect vulnerable groups (e. g. pensioners, young people) will result in adverse publicity for the Government.
People may vote for the opposition at the next General Election if the Government fails to protect their interests. Over the last decade or two consumers have become more highly intelligent and informed purchasers. This trend was encouraged by the popularity of consumer organizations such as consumers' association and its publication, in which there has been a huge growth in consumer televisions, programmes such as Watchdog, which has helped to highlight consumer issues.
This has led to more calls for protection for consumers- often in the form of legislation. The market can't always prevent the business from misleading their customers or supplying inadequate goods. So the government have stepped in to pass consumer protection laws, if a business breaks the laws, it can be prosecuted and fined under criminal law. The major Acts compromising consumer legislation include the following: Sale of Goods Act 1979: this is a law that lays down the contract implied by the purchase of an item.
It specifies that goods must be of merchantable quality', i. e. fit for the purpose for which they were purchased and free from faults. Also aspects of the quality include freedom from minor affects, appearance and finish, durability and safety. Also it is the seller, not the manufacturer, who is responsible if goods do not conform to contract. If not the consumer can sue the business, for instance a Rock Port jumper sold with a hole in it is not of merchantable quality.
Glue sold for glass which doesn't glue glass together is not fit for that purpose. Also a pair of Diesel jeans labelled blue in a presentation pack but which turns out to be black does not meet the description applied. You can also seek damages, which would be the amount of money necessary to have the goods replaced or repaired. Another example would be a jumper manufactured by Nike, which JJB purchase in bulk for retail to the public. If the jumper has a hole in it when purchased by the consumer, then they can ask for their money back from JJB.
Another example of this Act in action would be; Intel manufactures microchips which are sold to Dell. Dell uses the microchips in their PC's. The Dell PC's are sold to the public but become faulty within the first 6 months of purchase. If the consumer (public) asks Dell for repair or replacement of the microchip, Dell would have to conform to the request unless they could prove the consumer was at fault for the microchips failure (were not inherently faulty).
On the other hand if the microchip becomes faulty after six months to six years from the date of purchase, then it would be the consumer who would have to prove the microchips were faulty for them to claim for repair or replacement of the microchips. i?? The Trade Description Act 1968- This is one of the key pieces of consumer protection legislation which protects the general public against false or misleading advertising. This law prohibits false or misleading descriptions of a products contents e. g. by writing it down or making a verbal statement.
The legislation covers packaging, advertising and promotional material, quantity size, strength performance, composition and price, etc. For example making a misleading statement such as, 'our dry cleaning is guaranteed to remove every stain' but actually only removes 98% of stains would fail to comply with the Act. Another example might be in a holiday brochure a hotel advertises 'our apartments are within easy reach of the sea' but when they are actually 100 miles away would be a failure to comply with the Act.
A garage may state in a newspaper advert that the a car for sale has cloaked up 15,000 miles, when in fact the figure is 35,000 miles, this would be another example where an individual or organisation has failed to comply with the Act. Weights and Measure Act 1963 and 1985- legislation making it illegal to sell goods below their stated weight or volume, together with an enforcement procedure through trading standards officers' procedure the office of fair trading and the national weights and measures laboratory.
The 1985 Act allows metric measures to be used. It must be one in which consumers can have confidence, so that when they make a purchase they do so in the knowledge that they are not being sold short weight or measure. Businesses, too, must be protected from unscrupulous competitors who would seek to gain an unfair competitive advantage by flouting the law. Say for instance if you brought a packet of crisps which contained only 25 g but really contained 15 g is breaking the law so you can sue the company for selling goods below their stated weight.
Another example of this act would be if you went to a pub and asked for a pint of beer, you should get exactly a pint if not you can take legal actions. Also another example would be if you brought a chocolate bar which contained 15g of fat, should contain that amount if less like 5g. That is breaking the law for selling goods below their stated weight. These are examples of which of which the organization has failed to follow the act. i?? Food and Drug Act 19550- This act protects the consumer by selling food and medicine which is unfit for human consumption illegal.
It sets food labelling regulations and establishes on hygiene in premises dealing with food, it also lays down minimum standards of what must be contained in a food. Packaged goods must carry ingredients, labels and some goods have to carry warnings about the way they should be handled or cooked. For instance a meat sausage must contain at least 30 per cent meat. If less then the business can be prosecuted. Another example of this act would be if you brought a can of deodorant, and at the back of the can it did not condemn any health and safety warnings for people.
This is illegal and the business can be sued or can lose their license for selling these products. Food and Safety Act 1990- This is a wide ranging law which strengthens and updates consumer protection in the food sector throughout Great Britain. The legislation helps to protect the general public consuming food/drink which is not to a standard for human consumption. The Act makes it an offence for organisations to sell food which is not of the 'nature or substance or quality' demanded by the purchaser and also makes it an offence to falsely describe, advertise or present food and drink that is unfit for human consumption.
By using this act it ensures that all food produced for sale is very safe to eat, and also reaches quality expectations. An example of this Act in action could be that a member of the general public notices that while eating in a restaurant the chef prepares food in dirty conditions, such as preparing meat on a chopping board which is unclean. The person may contact an officer of Food Standards Agency, who may then issue improvement notices to the proprietor of the restaurant after inspection. i?? Consumer protection Act 1987.
Under this act, it is an offence to supply customers with a misleading indication, by any means, of the price of which the goods, services, accommodation or facilities are available. Of which do not meet general safety requirements. It also allows people to claim compensation for death, injury or damage to property over 275 (apart from damage to the product itself) if a product they use turns out to be faulty. Action is usually against the manufacturer or producer, but you could sue the retailer if they will not tell you who the manufacturer is.
For example if you brought a mattress and it was covered with plastic, and it did not have a label saying babies should no eat or swallow. Then the baby accidentally did and dies then you can claim compensation, this is another strict liability law. Consumer credit Act 1974 and Financial services Act 1986. People or businesses such as: sole trader, partnership and unincorporated associations lending money or offering financial services are controlled by these acts, For example by making them become registered.
Companies lending money on credit must state clearly the APR- the annual percentage rate'- which is the true cost of borrowing money: and advertisement offering credit must not mislead people. The act also lays down rules covering: the form content of agreements, credit advertising, the procedures to be adopted in the event of default, termination, or early settlement and expensive credit bargains. By having these laws consumers are benefiting immensely from being provided misleading descriptions about the products they buy.