What Are Your Rights as a Consumer?

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Tom Zimmerman

Consumer law is that which sets the rights of anyone who consumes products or services by establishing certain guarantees. Such rights vary somewhat by jurisdiction, and should a consumer have reason to sue for an infringement, they should turn to a consumer rights attorney with experience in that jurisdiction who is familiar with local laws, rules and regulations. Over and above a product warranty, efforts to guarantee consumer rights are usually monitored by a government body that provides an aggrieved consumer with certain rights that offer protection against shoddy sales practices. Consumers have the right to cancel a contract and get a full refund of any money paid, as well as sue for damages should the circumstances qualify.

If there were no consumer rights laws, the “law” in the marketplace would be “let the buyer beware.” The problem with this is that unscrupulous operators will take advantage of consumers knowing they have no recourse. This changed in 1962 under the presidency of John F. Kennedy who signed into law the nation’s first consumer rights law. Over the years this consumer Bill of Rights has been amended and strengthened to substantially by proclamation as well as statute; today these rights provide the average consumer with a guarantee of choice, safety and notice.

There are a number of federal agencies involved in protecting consumers in the United States, such as the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC. These agencies enforce consumer laws, which curb unfair business practices that prevail in such industries as telemarketing.  More importantly, these agencies are responsible for providing consumers with product safety and they can recall products proven to be unsafe and hazardous to consumers.

Although the federal government may take the lead, every state also has its own consumer rights laws. In the event any of these prevailing laws are broken, a consumer has the right to engage a consumer rights attorney and sue for damages or injunctive relief to stop the deceptive practices. Most state laws cover the establishment of warranties, the maximum interest rates that can be charged, and penalties that apply when a company is found guilty of engaging in deceptive sales practices or selling defective products.

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