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Consumer Protection Laws and Retail Sector

Consumer retail is a method of selling consumer goods and services to people through several chains or channels of distribution. The retail sector supplies goods and services, as per demand, for individual consumption, rather than resale. The term “retail sector” connotes both goods and services sectors including food, clothing, furniture, health care products and services, beauty services, electronic goods and many more. Click for pharmaceutical fraud lawyer. Every sub sector, therefore faces their own individual laws, government regulations and the accompanying challenges.

Though there are several regulations and restraints specific to each retail sector, there are a few general laws common for all consumer retail practices in a country. Consumer protection is probably the most important and pertinent among all laws and regulations guiding retail practices across nations.

Consumer protection laws:

The consumer protection laws are a set of governing principles and regulations imposed across all national and state economies to protect the rights of consumers, to safeguard fair trade practices, to improve market information and transparency and promote healthy competitive growth in the retail sector.

 The necessity of consumer protection laws:

These laws and government regulations are much needed to prevent businesses from indulging in unfair business practices and unhealthy competitive strategies leading to consumer dissatisfaction.

Consumer protection laws are typically needed to protect consumers from fraud, exploitation, malpractices and misleading advertisements by the retailers and middlemen.

Laws and regulatory procedures are needed to protect the vulnerable section of consumers and ensure a decent standard of living across several sections of the society.

Some retail businesses have to be transparent and provide accurate information, such as food and health care products and services. The laws and regulations of the state directly impacts this and ensures consumer protection and right to information.

Laws and regulations to safeguard consumer rights and protection and their fair implementation imbues an overall confidence in different institutions within the state. Consumer confidence and satisfaction will only improve the economic activities of the consumers leading to an overall growth of the economy.

The laws are much needed to improve safety and quality of all consumer goods and services.

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Consumer organisations, activism and government laws:

Consumer activism is undertaken by several NGOs to achieve the objectives of safe and good quality of consumer goods and services which are environmentally friendly and do not pose any health and safety hazard to the consumers and society in general. Some examples of international consumer protection agencies are Consumers International – an international NGO, ICRT, ANEC etc.,

Consumer protection guidelines as directed by the United Nations Organisation:

The broad objectives and aspirations of the UN guidelines are:

  • To promote international cooperation in the implementation of consumer protection.
  • To promote and nurture the development of independent and international consumer groups which protect vulnerable consumers in the developing countries who often face the brunt of economic imbalances across the world.
  • To promote sustainable consumption and achieve a broad based socio economic growth across member countries.

criminal-lawThese objectives are set with a mission to enforce effective consumer laws and legislations, to set up viable implantation and enforcement agencies and redress mechanisms for helping the member nations to formulate and enforce laws which are indigenous to their economic, environmental and social conditions.

The UN has also set up an Intergovernmental group of experts on consumer protection laws and policies to achieve the above mentioned goals and aspirations.

The broad guidelines that are commonly considered to frame a viable and effective set of consumer protection laws are:

  • Standards for ensuring the safety and quality of goods and services: When governments frame laws for consumer protection, they should formulate and implement laws which are specific in meeting the required international standards for protecting the safety and well-being of consumers. These laws and guidelines have to reviewed and publicised from time to time. The national regulations for safety and quality maintenance has to be in conformation with the international standards. When a standard or quality is found lower than accepted international norms, due to some economic compulsions, diligent efforts are to applied to improve the quality as soon as possible. In case of physical hazard or non-compliance to safety standards, then appropriate laws and directive principles are to be applied to recall the products. Modification and quality checks are to be performed periodically.
  • Guidelines to ensure a fair redressal mechanism: This is a very important guideline to empower consumers and consumer organisations to resolve disputes and grievances in a fair, inexpensive, accessible and expeditious manner.
  • Education and information programmes: This is very much needed to create awareness and provide adequate knowledge of government consumer protection laws and the enforcement agencies to the general public. This enables consumers to make informed choices and empower them.

These guidelines and regulatory measures adopted to frame laws of consumer protection should not become trade barriers and slow down economic growth.

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