On March 15, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered an historic speech to the US Congress when he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. President Kennedy was the first politician and world leader to formerly set out such principles. President Kennedy essentially gave American consumers four basic rights: the right to safety, the right to choose, the right to obtain information, and the right to be heard. The focus of World Consumer Rights Day is to celebrate unity within the international consumer rights movement.
The consumer movement now recognizes March 15th of every year to mean World Consumer Rights Day, which was first celebrated in 1983. The day is an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers to ensure people’s rights are respected and protected.
World Consumer Rights Day is organized by Consumers International, which is the world federation of consumer groups that serves as the only authoritative global voice for consumers. Each year, the Consumers International Council selects a theme for World Consumer Rights Day. This year, the theme focuses on mobile phone services. Consumers International has chosen this particular topic to evaluate the quality of mobile services consumers are receiving.
Consumers International wishes to address a few issues to make sure consumers are being treated fairly when it comes to their cell phone contracts. Consumers should be provided with contracts that are explained clearly and concisely. Consumers should not have to guess or assume what the terms and conditions mean in the contract. They should be provided with comprehensible information on the conditions of the contract they are committing themselves to.
Some examples of unfair and unclear contracts include instances where consumers are not provided with complete information about their contract; unfair penalties for terminating the service; and hidden provisions for automatic subscription renewals. Consumers should not be billed for services they did agree to, and they should not be charged a higher fee than the one advertised.
The consumer movement focuses mostly on three parts:
- Consumers have the right to be protected against products that are hazardous to their health.
- Consumers have the right to be informed about facts so they are protected against misleading advertising.
- Consumers have the right to choose, and to be able to select from a range of products and services.