Economy is one of the elements compassing a social institution. Just like the benefits one gains in education, religion, government and family, one should also gain sufficient knowledge and ideas about his/her rights in the economy. Being a consumer, we should not only focus on the cliché, “customer is always right”, indeed explore our intended rights and its accompanied responsibilities.
At the mid of 1950's, a certain movement called Consumerism was founded. This is intended to protect the consumers against business malpractices and to strengthen their rights. When former President John F. Kennedy included in his speech in the United States Congress about the basic consumer rights, consumers gained support resulting to the establishment and passing of the said right in 1972. As a result, there were the four basic rights: the rights to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard. And in 1985, it was expanded to become eight basic consumer rights.
In our country, Republic Act 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, was specifically enacted by Congress to protect the interest and general welfare of the consumer. Based on the Department of Trade and Industry and Bureau of Trade Regulations and Consumer Protection, every Filipino consumer is entitled to the eight basic consumer rights. The first right is the right to basic needs. Individuals are entitled of basic needs such as foods, clothing and shelter and as consumers we must have access to this essential goods and services throughout the market. The producers should make sure that these basic needs will be distributed to us. For example, in our food and water needs, as producers they have to make sure that every consumer will be accommodated. The second one is the right to safety. In my own observation, every product in the market is given extra attention in regards to consumer safety. This is being displayed when our government department set standards to a particular good or services. They also see to it that they will inspect it to check if that product is safe to the consumers. Having product testing and putting warning labels allow the consumers to trust a product. Because of this right, consumers are guaranteed to a standardized item. The third right is the right to information. In terms of food products, we are always exercising this right. The producers and labels on that product allow us to understand what it is about and how to use it. Thus, our right to information is not violated. The fourth right is the right to choose. This right states that consumer should have a variety of options in the products being offered in the market. Because of this, different companies provide different products that will suit the consumer's need. There is also the right to representation or the right to be heard. In connection with this right, a consumer can voice out complaints, concerns and, suggestions to the product he/she has bought. Companies observe this by putting Customer Care Hotline at the back portion of the product. The sixth right is the right to redress. This is connected to our right to representation. Whenever we have claims of dissatisfaction in a product, the corporation or company should give us a fair settlement such as compensations for shoddy and substandard products. The seventh right is the right to consumer education. As students, we can gain knowledge and ideas that are needed to choose well among the variety of goods and services being offered in the market. Through our Social Studies or TLE subjects we can be a smart and wise consumer. The last right is the right to a healthy environment. As producers, they should also protect our environment for the future decades and generations. Just like in factories, they should make sure that each facilities is in standard operation and will not harm either the environment and the people around it.
However, the rights granted to each one of us consumers have its corresponding responsibility. Still according to the DTI and BTRCP here are the five (5) consumer responsibilities: critical awareness, action, social concern, environment awareness, and solidarity.
We should not only practice our rights but also our responsibilities as consumers.