The 2017 World Consumer Rights Day is here and it is time to get to know your basic rights as a consumer.
TheNewsGuru.com reports that the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) was started in 1983 and is an awareness day which is observed on March 15.
It is celebrated annually to instigate action among citizens for the international consumer movement. Everyone is a consumer, and World Consumer Rights Day gives a platform for all to voice any difficulties they face.
It ensures that their rights are respected and protected over injustice done in the market.
US President John F Kennedy was the first leader who took the initiative to analyse and recognise the importance of consumers as a whole.
Kennedy gave the American consumer four basic rights: the right to safety, to choose, to information and to be heard.
Right to safety: Protection against goods and services that can be dangerous to one’s health.
Right to choose: Choose from an array of goods and services with assurance of good quality at competitive prices.
Right to information: Make choices based on honest advertising and promotions
Right to be heard: To voice their opinion regarding government policies dealing with consumers.
People consume for different reasons, be it for their satisfaction, for luxury, or for simple needs. A knowledgeable consumer makes a wise decision regarding services and commodities. However, often the right information isn’t provided to the consumers and this can be misleading.
Promotions and ads are used to market various products but if done wrong, they can have adverse effect on consumer’s life in the long run. To maintain authenticity of products and to protect consumers from being misled, this initiative is appropriate in all aspects.
Consumers International (CI), which was founded in 1960 organises WCRD. It is the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers and has over 220 member organisations in 115 countries around the world.
Every year a theme is chosen for this day, and this year it is ‘Building a digital world consumers can trust’.
Consumers should have trust in their preferred product or service providers. They have the right to be offered quality services and products and should not be exploited. Consumers should be protected and valued by service providers.
Not only do we need to trust the digital world, but also credit providers.
According to the National Credit Regulator (NCR), consumers have rights in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA) to:
- Apply for credit.
- Know why credit was declined.
- Receive information and documentation in their preferred official language.
- Receive information and documentation in simple and clear language.
- Receive documentation in their preferred delivery manner.
- Receive statements without charge.
- Receive their free credit report once a year from a registered Credit Bureau and if evidence is available, question/dispute incorrect information.
Consumers also have right to;
Wikus Olivier, debt management expert at DebtSafe, emphasises the importance of shopping around to get the best terms and rates available when applying for credit to suit your budget.
“Consumers should receive a quotation before any credit agreement is accepted. And the quotation received should clearly disclose the fees and instalments involved,” says Olivier.
Here are a few examples that you, the consumer, need to be aware of when applying for certain credit:
Buying a Vehicle
Mrs X wants to buy a car and applies for credit. Unfortunately, her application for credit has been declined.
She has the right to inquire why her application has not been accepted and is informed via the credit provider that her credit profile is in a bad state.
She disagrees with the given feedback because she knows she is in a position to get financing for a car.
Mrs X’s dispute, together with evidence provided, has been lodged at the credit bureau and within 20 days she receives feedback that the mistake on her profile has been corrected.
She can now apply for credit again.
Taking out a Personal Loan
Mr. Y has the right to ask for a quotation when applying for a personal loan. The credit provider must disclose all the fees, instalments and necessary terms involved.
Mr Y, therefore, needs to ask for the credit agreement that is free of charge, to also see what the credit life instalment entails, for example.
He has the right to take a look at the credit life premium and can also decide to choose his own credit life insurance provider. FinSafe is an example of such a service provider.
TheNewsGuru.com reports that several agencies have also being set up by the Federal Government to ensure a full protection of the everyday consumer. Chief among them being Consumer Protection Council (CPC).