Consumer Right and Responsibilities

On 15 March, 1962, US President John F. Kennedy delivered an historic address to the US Congress in which he outlined his vision of consumer rights. This was the first time any politician had formerly set out such principles.

 "Consumers by definition include us all, " Kennedy said in his  Congressional statement. They are the largest economic group , affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group...who views are often not heard"

Over time, the consumer movement has developed this vision into a set of eight basic consumer rights which now define and inspire much of the work CI and its members do:  

Consumer Rights

The right to satisfaction of basic needs - To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.  

The right to safety - To be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life.  

The right to be informed - To be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labeling.  

The right to choose - To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.  

The right to be heard - To have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.  

The right to redress - To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.  

The right to consumer education - To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.  

The right to a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.

This set of eight consumer rights now guide the campaign and policy work of CI and consumer organizations in the world over.

Consumer Responsibilities

Critical Awareness - the responsibility to be more alert and questioning about the price and quality of goods and services we use.

Action - the responsibility to assert ourselves and act to ensure that we get a fair deal. As long as we remain passive consumers we will be exploited.

Social concern - the responsibility to be aware of the impact of our consumption on other citizens, especially the disadvantaged or powerless groups whether in the local, national or international  community.

Environmental Awareness - the responsibility to understand the environmental and other consequences of our consumption. We should recognize our individual and social responsibility to conserve natural resources and protect the earth for future generations.

Solidarity - the responsibility to organize together as consumers to develop the strength and influence to promote and protect our interest.