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Six Rights of the Consumer
The consumer bill of rights, originally presented to Congress by President John F.
Kennedy in 1962, have also been endorsed by the United Nations, which added an additional 2
to the original 4 rights in 1985. These rights are as follows: the right to be safe, the right to
choose freely, the right to be informed, the right to be heard, the right to education and the right
to service.
To be Safe
The context of safety here relates with the performance of the product bought or service
rendered to the customers. This right was derived out of the rise of consumerism and some of the
risks that were exhibited in the decade of 50’s after the US emerged as an economic powerhouse.
As one of the most serious rights, Congress passed a law, the Consumer Product Safety Act
which provided for the establishment of the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the year
1972. The Commission had teeth in that it could set performance standards for the products,
impose routines of testing on products, force companies to paste warning labels on their products
as well as urge or force recalls if there were concerns as to performance or safety.
Right to Choose Freely
The right to choose freely derives from the monopolistic market conditions in some of
the industries. The right relates with the consumer’s ability to be able to choose from a variety of
product offerings. There should be no pressure as regards going with one company over another.
In order to curb monopolies, the government has reduced the number of years on patents and
induced healthy competition.
Right To be Informed
Addressing the information imbalance, the government protects the right of consumers to
accurate and truthful information in all their dealings with the company. For example labels on
the products and messages in the advertising should be accurate. There are strict penalties
against what is called “false advertising” and other business malpractices, though common sense
on the part of the consumer is taken for granted (for example in the PepsiCo Fighter Jet
Advertising Case, the courts unanimously sided with the company).
Right to be Heard
Consumers have a right to be heard, in the context of feedback provided against services
rendered and products bought. Even though the government has not yet designated a department
to the job, the task has been taken up by private regulators as the Better Business Bureau, which
allows for a forum to air grievances or publish feedback. This right is important so other
consumers benefit from the experiences of past customers, good or bad (Bryan, 2011).
Right to Education
The right to education relates to the right of every consumer to make an educated
decision over any product, which can only come by being able to access information or
educational programs. This is helpful when we consider the wide gamut of technologies and
derived product offerings (Parisi & Robinson, 2001). For example, for a time period consumers
actually believed electronic cigarettes were, as their Chinese propagators advertised, addiction
reducing and harmless! When they actually use nicotine and have side effects of their own!
Right to Service
The right to service relates with being treated with dignity and respect as well as being
offered adequate customer service wherever possible. This applies for paying customers as well
as purveyors of products. This is important because in some sectors, companies on account of
the liberty or privilege they may have at hand, treat their customers without care. For example,
when processing international routes, airlines may sometimes forget that flyers are still their
customers when they process security or visa related paperwork, and may not offer adequate
customer service.

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