Consumer affairs are the rights of consumers to be protected against wrongdoings or unethical practices of business owners, manufacturers or salespeople. As part of the concept of consumer affairs, the U.S. has laws in place and enforces these various consumer protection laws. While the laws protect consumers, the laws also ensure fair trade and create a competitive environment for businesses, manufacturers and other organizations.
Consumers are people who buy goods and services. They are individuals that buy these goods and services for their own personal use, rather than to resell or to use to manufacture another product or service. In short, these laws and regulations protect the rights of the end-user of the item.
The laws that exist as part of consumer affairs are federal government regulations. The regulations stand to protect consumer rights. For example, federal consumer affairs regulations require food manufacturers and sellers to disclose information to consumers about safety and public health issues. Another example that falls under consumer rights is the recall of products, such as cars or a child’s toy, because of a manufacturing defect or other issue that may put the user of the product in danger.
Consumer affairs cover the rights of numerous areas of the daily lives of people. These laws cover areas from credit and debt repair to product safety and bill collector regulations. If and when a consumer has a problem, where their consumer rights have been violated, the consumer also has the right to lodge a formal complaint.
For example, if a consumer experiences fraud or has their rights violated by a telecommunications company, then the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fields and investigates consumer complaints. The FTC takes the complaint from the consumer and investigates the matter with the telecommunications company that is involved in the complaint. The FTC may try to resolve the issue between the consumer and the company.
In addition to trying to right the wrong against the consumer, the FTC or other government agencies or organizations may also fine the company involved in violating the consumer rights. In this role, these agencies are the governing bodies that help to monitor and enforce the laws and regulations that protect the rights of consumers.
Competition is another area that falls under consumer affairs. The right of consumers to choose which product or service company they buy is protected by consumer affairs. So, consumer affairs also deals with the area of competition law in an effort to protect these consumer interests.