The recognition of a day to promote and support consumers rights and issues has its origins from a groundbreaking special message to the US Congress by President John F Kennedy on the 15th day of March 1962. This is viewed as the first time a President truly addressed the issue of consumer rights. At the basis of his message was the resounding fact that all of us are consumers. Whilst consumers represent the largest economic group, it is the only group in the economy that are not effectively organized and at times lack adequate representation. This speech sparked the creation of Consumers International whose objective is to fight for fair, safe and sustainable future from consumers. In 1983 there was the creation of Consumer Rights Day.
This year 2020, the theme is The Sustainable Consumer. With the recent initiative regarding the ban on plastics and such other environmental measures, it is clear why this theme was chosen. There is a need for a global effort to call for changes to avert environmental breakdown and create fair social conditions for current and future generations. At the heart of this effort, which Consumer International has also adopted, is the attempt to empower consumers to make sustainable choices and practice sustainable consumption as well as to demand sustainable production in response to the global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. With such practices implemented, there can be global and continued access to essential goods and services and a fair global standard of living for all. This is the basis of sustainable development, development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The principles of consumer rights should permeate throughout all aspects. Thus, even as it relates to sustainability, there is a need for consumers to be educated on the environmental, social and economic consequences of consumer choice and have available clear and reliable information in order to make well-informed decisions as it relates to their consumption and lifestyle. Education and information empower and enable consumer choice. The right to choose is another principle, as consumers, wherever possible, should have access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.
The United Nations has made certain recommendations on the governmental approach that should be adopted to ensure the promotion and protection of consumers’ economic interest along with sustainable development. Whilst still maintaining the standard concepts to ensure the safety and quality of consumer goods and service, it is suggested that government should implement policies to enable consumers to obtain optimum benefit from their economic resources. This would involve ensuring satisfactory production, ensuring after-sales service and spare parts, implementing performance standards which demand durability, utility and reliability.
Further, it is recommended that there should be the promotion of consumer access to non-misleading information about the environmental impact of products and services by using methods such as eco-labelling schemes, product information hotlines, product profiles, environmental reports by industry, and information centres for consumers.
In offering our services as a credit bureau, we too seek to implement sustainable practices by having electronic and online services to reduce the use of paper. As a credit bureau, our nature of business is indeed consumer-centric, thus we go beyond the concept of sustainability and also attempt to ensure the fundamental principles of consumer rights govern the way we do business. We have implemented policies to promote consumer awareness, ensuring that the right to be informed and educated is present, we also grant the right to dispute and challenge any inaccuracies within our credit reports.
We support the initiatives for Consumers Rights day and invite you to continue to follow our blog to find out more about consumers rights within the credit reporting system.