What are the Different Types of Protections Under Consumer Law?
Consumer law protections vary by jurisdiction and typically cover issues such as warranty law, credit reporting, and trade licensing. The purpose of consumer law provisions is to protect consumers against unscrupulous businesses, unqualified practitioners of various trades and professions, as well as manipulative salespeople. They also provide provide consumers with remedies against low-quality standards in goods and services and deceptive advertising. In many places, consumer law provides both consumers and government agencies with the ability to sue businesses that violate consumer rights.
One very common type of consumer law is the so-called lemon law that protects buyers of an automobile against consequences of buying a defective vehicle. Different jurisdictions provide for differing levels of protection and typically allow a car buyer to request a new car or refund if her car breaks down a number of times during a specific time period. Similar laws prescribe the way consumer warrantees are to be constructed, in some cases presuming a certain baseline of functionality in a product and perhaps requiring warranties or purchase contracts to be written in plain language.
Deceptive advertising is likewise a target of consumer law. In many places, all forms of advertising must honestly describe the product or service being sold. In addition, some jurisdictions have what are known as bait-and-switch laws, which forbid businesses from advertising products at an attractive price, only to claim to visiting customers that the product is out of stock and then attempting to sell the customer a more expensive item. In some cases, these laws require retailers to provide rain checks that enable customers to purchase the advertised item at the advertised price when the item comes back in stock.
In some places, including the United States, consumer protection agencies may have jurisdiction over licensed trades and professions. Individuals who wish to practice a specific trade or profession may be required by law to complete education and other requirements before obtaining licensure. Consumers who believe they are victims of fraud or malpractice by a professional or tradesperson may be able to appeal to the licensing board in order to ensure that the licensee is subject to disciplinary procedures up to and including the loss of his license to practice.
Credit reporting is also addressed in some types of consumer law. For example, in the United States, credit bureaus are subject to strict federal laws regarding the types of information they can include in consumer credit reports. Consumer law also restricts the amount of time negative information can remain on the consumer's credit report and provides consumers with ways of challenging this information.
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