Have you put up with bad behavior by a business that was unwilling to work with you even though they made a mistake? Have you wondered what you can do about it when a business delivers a product that is less than expected? Businesses often push to see what they can get away with and we, the consumers, are continually left holding the bill. We wonder how to handle expenses or problems that we had not agreed to nor expected.
Consumer Rights: Then and Now
There is actually a system in place that protects us as consumers. It started way back in the 1950’s as the United States started to develop laws that would hold companies legally responsible for hurting consumers.
If you bought a baby crib that collapsed on your child causing injury, you could finally have the right to sue the company for not testing their product before selling it to you. Before, it had been considered your own problem if you bought something that failed to deliver on its promise.
These product liability laws were the beginning of recognizing that consumers have rights. In the 1960’s, the consumer protections were increased to include what is known as the Consumer Bill of Rights. The government continued to pass laws to increase business liability and consumer protection.
In 2020 if your consumer rights are violated, you have the right to sue for monetary damages to pay for your injuries and loss. Let’s look at some of the ways your rights are protected in 2020.
Right to Safety
Companies in our world today are expected to rigorously test their products for safety before marketing and selling them to consumers. They are also expected to provide instructions about how to use their product and deliver quality.
In September of this year, the Seattle Times reported that the state’s attorney, Bob Ferguson, is suing Juul on behalf of consumers. He states that, “Juul intentionally aimed its products at young people and deceived consumers in general about the addictiveness of its vape products, failing for years to disclose the presence of nicotine. Pushing unfair and deceptive marketing strategies appealing to youth, the company fueled a staggering rise in vaping among teens. JUUL’s conduct reversed decades of progress fighting nicotine addiction, and they must be held accountable.”
He continues by saying that “a 2018 study of Juul’s Twitter audience showed that 80% of its followers were between 13 and 20 years old and that the company knew this but did not address it.” This lawsuit will attempt to make the company pay for its utter disregard for the health and safety of its consumers.
Right to Information
In the above Juul case, part of the attorney’s issue with the company is that they did not disclose the nicotine content of their product and deceived consumers intentionally. Our Consumer Bill of Rights includes the company’s responsibility to provide an ingredient list and true claims about the product. Juul violated this consumer right to information on every level.
Attorneys are on the frontlines fighting against this type of behavior by companies who assume they can get away with unethical business practices because they have money.
Ways to Research Products for Safety and Information
Read the fact sheets from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Read online reviews about the product to get an idea of its quality and performance
Read Consumer Reports or Consumers’ Research Magazine
Look at J.D. Power and Associates who does market research for consumers
Right to Choice
Attorneys also take on cases based on the consumer right to choose from many products when available. Antitrust laws purposefully interfere with companies that try to create a monopolistic situation in which they are the only choice for consumers. As the only choice, a company can raise their prices because they know that consumers will pay more.
The company Juul is also being dealt with for their disregard of consumer rights by allegedly violating federal antitrust laws. In April of 2020, the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint alleging that Altria Group, Inc. and JUUL Labs, Inc. entered a series of agreements that eliminated competition in violation of federal antitrust laws.
The Right to Be Heard & Have Problems Corrected
You have the right to voice your complaints and concerns about a product or service and expect that your issues will be resolved. A company doing good business will work hard to make sure you have what you need to fully enjoy a product or service and that your expectations are met. An unethical business will dismiss or ignore your concerns and refuse to compromise in any way to resolve an issue.
Attorneys use cases involving the concerns of consumers to help inform the law. If enough people sue a company for unethical business practices, consumers start to take notice. As consumers, we move the wheels of the legal machine when we hold bad businesses accountable for their abusive behavior.
We also hold businesses accountable when we vote. An example would be voting for someone in favor of reducing emissions in vehicles. In this case, consumers are effectively demonstrating how we can affect the laws that car manufacturers have to live by.
If you are a consumer whose rights have been violated in one of the ways above, contact us online for a consultation. We have attorneys across the country whose only focus is consumer rights. We fight for you against corporate greed structures that hurt consumers through their lack of information, truthful marketing, antitrust violations, and refusal to work with you once they have wronged you. You do not have to sit back and let them continue to abuse you. You have rights. We want to help you be heard.