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Consumer Protection

Consumer Expectations

A fair marketplace supports several general rights. An important right is the opportunity to make informed choices among a variety of goods or services. To make informed choices, consumers need to receive complete and accurate information about their purchases. This information might include the product's content (for example, if the product contains nuts for those who may have an allergic reaction), safety warnings (the flammability of a garment), and product care instructions (temperature for safely storing an aerosol product). Obviously, this information needs to be written in plain language that will inform, rather than confuse, the consumer. It should be printed in a readable type size.

All consumers also expect a fair price. A price is fair if it reflects the actual cost of manufacture or providing the service without exorbitant mark up. They also want to be able to buy the item in the store at the price mentioned in an advertisement. They want to know if online price comparison services accept payment from advertisers to list their products more prominently. Consumers have a right to know all costs associated with a purchase, such as shipping and handling, and to get the same price as other consumers without discrimination.

Consumers also expect to be able to get someone to pay attention to their concerns about a product or service. Older consumers are particularly concerned about receiving personal service and individual attention from shopkeepers and financial institutions. They need to know with whom they are dealing, how to communicate with a company, and how to obtain refunds. They want access to effective remedies, such as enforcement of regulations, prosecution of criminal violations, and adjudication of private and class action lawsuits.

With the advent of new marketing media, from the telephone to the Internet, and the capacity of computers to collect and store massive amounts of information, consumer privacy is a growing concern. All consumers have a right to personal privacy. Older consumers especially Nellie, who did not wish to give her last name, speaks to fellow support group members in Philadelphia in 1995. The eighty-year-old was a victim of a consumer scam, which she reported to the Crimes Against the Elderly and Retired Unit (CARE) of the Philadelphia police department. At the time, the unit was the only one in the United States to focus solely on crimes against the elderly. (AP photo by Nanine Hartzenbusch.) want to be able to reject intrusive marketing practices, such as unsolicited contact by telephone, fax, or e-mail, and to control how and to whom personal information is given.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 1Consumer Protection - Consumer Expectations, Older Consumers At Risk, Protections Available, Sources Of Help, The Future