Consumer Protection Rights/Laws that You Need to Know
During the holidays, many consumers are worried about their own rights and the laws that protect these rights. Businesses must follow certain legal guidelines to avoid infringing on consumer rights.
Privacy Laws and Information Sharing
Consumers have a right to privacy. Businesses and retail stores that collect personal information by running a credit card, taking a credit application, or any other means do not have a right to share that information without your express consent.
Shopping Safety and Product Safety
As a consumer, you have a right to safety when you shop for products and when you use the products that you've purchased. As far as shopping safety is concerned, retail establishments should always offer handicapped parking, handrails, easily opened doors, floors that are clear of obstructions and hazards, and clear signage to indicate potential safety concerns. Products that are purchased should also be safe to use and effective. Any hazards and warnings should be printed clearly on labels that consumers can easily read.
There are serious penalties for retail establishments that use untruths or exaggerations in their advertisements. Advertising and marketing laws are complex, but the basis of all these laws is intended to protect consumers from being lied to by retailers that simply want to sell products as quickly as they can. If you believe that you have been a victim of false advertising, you may want to talk to an attorney to get the compensation you deserve. Businesses simply cannot advertise a product or sale that isn't accurate. False claims made by manufacturers about their products are also highly punishable offenses.
Returns and Exchanges
Unfortunately, there are very few laws governing returns and exchanges between consumers and retail establishments. Stores are not required, by law, to offer returns and exchanges on their products. However, there are some laws that prevent stores from keeping a consumer's money if he or she believes that a product was faulty or flawed at the time of purchase.
Credit Applications and Financing Laws
During the holidays, many consumers become overwhelmed with the cost of buying presents and gifts for family and friends. These consumers may decide that it's easier to put a shopping balance on a new store credit card rather than pay the entire cost of the shopping excursion up front. Most large retail stores offer their own lines of credit to consumers, and it can be easy to fall into the credit trap, especially around the holidays. There are strict laws governing interest rates and credit applications for consumer credit cards, but some retail establishments get around these laws through the fine print. A store is legally able to offer you a period of repayment at a low interest rate before hiking up rates and making repayment very difficult. This isn't the most honest way to handle credit, but it is legal.
It can be easy for consumers to get taken advantage of during high-energy shopping seasons. Knowing the rights and laws that protect consumers will help you stay safe and protected while you shop.