Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
|There is no universally agreed term for consumers, but they are generally known as purchasers of goods and services. Different laws in different countries might define the term according to their varying purposes, context and needs. More information in the various definition of consumers in ASEAN can be found on the country profiles of the Handbook of ASEAN Consumer Protection Laws and Regulations.
The prevalence of deceptive practices and irregularities in the market means that governments have to intervene to safeguard the interests of consumers by recognizing and upholding their rights in various legal instruments, including consumer protection laws. The following figure summarizes the basic rights of consumers that are generally guaranteed in most countries:
Figure 1: Basic Consumer Rights
The ASEAN's Consumer Policy aims at protecting consumers from serious risks and threats that they are unable to tackle as individuals; empowering them to make choices based on accurate, clear and consistent information; enhancing their welfare and effectively protecting their safety as well as their economic interests. It also means protecting the interests of vulnerable consumers and those less able to protect their own interests
The ASEAN High-Level Principles on Consumer Protection which is aimed at supporting AMS in their efforts to improve consumer protection as ASEAN launches the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) provides the following principles in relation to consumer rights:
- Consumers are equipped with the skills, knowledge, information and confidence to exercise their rights;
- Consumers are protected from harmful goods and services;
- Consumers have access to appropriate and convenient sources of advice and redress including alternative dispute resolution (ADR);
- Consumers understand the impact of consumption decisions on the shared environment;
- Consumers in E-commerce are Protected
The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP) first adopted in 1985 and later updated in 2016, also contains basic consumer rights and responsibilities.