“… virtue alone, united to upright knowledge, is worthy and capable of governing and ruling others…” – Jesus, “The Hours of the Passion”
If you believe a seller or manufacturer has violated your consumer rights, it makes sense to speak out. But more than that, you can speak to lawyers and file a lawsuit. If you and at least forty more individuals have had your consumer rights violated by the same offender, then you can file a consumer class action. All of you may be able to seek redress and send a message to offenders in the market that abusive business practices and misconduct are not to be tolerated.
However, before filing a complaint against a company or business, it is of utmost importance to know what you’re fighting for. Understanding consumer protection law and your consumer rights are essential to making a stand. To know these is to be responsible for properly upholding them.
What is Consumer Protection Law?
Consumer protection law generally refers to a body of law that pertains to rules and guidelines that sellers and manufacturers of goods, products, and services must adhere to – for the protection of buyers and customers. This body of law, and laws therein, was shaped and designed after a global series of consumer-related legal disputes throughout the years and the results of those cases. Official consumer protection organizations and government agencies & offices enforce and uphold the laws of consumer protection. Consumer protection law provides a way for regular citizens to fight back against abusive practices perpetrated by businesses, sellers, and manufacturers.
What are consumer rights? Consumer rights are a consumer’s shield of protection that ward businesses, sellers, and manufacturers from producing goods, products, and services that won’t be beneficial and safe for the consumer. Different states and nations have posted their consumer rights publicly, and the tenets are universal, as guided by international consumer groups and organizations.
Summarily, as a consumer, you have a right to:
- Safe goods, products, and services
- Complete and factual information from businesses, sellers, and manufacturers to make informed consumer choices
- Choose from a variety of goods, products, and services at fair prices
- Have your complaints heard and addressed
- Be remedied or compensated by businesses, sellers, or manufacturers if they are found guilty of harming you and other consumers
Consult with a lawyer if you believe that one or more of the universal rights mentioned were violated. You might have a cause of action for harm or injury caused by a violation of consumer rights and, if you were harmed or injured, there is also a chance that others were too.
Consumer Class Action Lawsuits
Even if the harm or injury you have suffered from a business, seller, or manufacturer is not that great, the cumulative harmful or damaging effects suffered by you and other consumers might be overwhelming. Therefore, initiating a consumer class action lawsuit should be the next step. Doing so can make changes in a consumerist society and help prevent would-be offenders from committing misdeeds. The common types of misdeeds that can be committed by businesses, sellers, and manufacturers are as follows:
- Breach of consumer privacy and misuse of personal data
- Breach of warranties
- False advertising
- Giving unfair loan terms to consumers
When a consumer falls victim to fraud and other forms of misconduct by purchasing a good, product, or service that does not measure up to the seller’s promises, the consumer may suffer a loss equal to the amount they paid, and perhaps some other expenses as well. But in most cases, the consumer’s loss is nothing compared to the amount of money it would take to file their own lawsuit against the seller. A consumer class action lawsuit tips the balance of power in favor of that one consumer (and others).
An individual consumer whose rights have been violated can join together with other consumers who have similar claims against the same seller. Joined together, they form a “class” and can share the expenses of their single lawsuit. A consumer class action lawsuit is different from a regular class action lawsuit in that the plaintiff/s of a consumer class action is/are specifically the consumer/s. With a class action lawsuit, any group of victimized consumers can present a critical litigation threat to even the biggest businesses. Lawyers in charge of these cases work on them even though there’s a chance they won’t get paid. They only get paid if and when the plaintiffs get compensated. Furthermore, any victims with claims that are the basis of class action suits have the choice to opt out of their class and pursue legal matters individually when it is more beneficial for them to do so.
Always remember that having legal rights and not knowing them is the same as not having them. Never be afraid to virtuously fight for your rights. Do your research to know when what is said by a business, seller, or manufacturer is truthful to avoid consumer problems. It is only when the light is shone on the dark deeds of others that they get to make the decision to do right for the benefit of all.
Deinah Storm used to work in the corporate world as a marketing affiliate. She quit her job to pursue her passion for writing, but to this day, Deinah is committed to educating consumers about the different marketing scams and how to avoid them.