Consumer defense is the right to protection from harms that may occur in commercial relationships. This includes the ability to protect consumers against unsafe products and services, fraud or deceit, and unfair practices. It also includes the right to be informed, make choices, and receive compensation when something goes wrong.
Historically, the concept of consumer defense was rooted in the concept of caveat emptor, or buyer beware. As far back as the Greek and Roman eras, this principle was used to regulate marketplace transactions. In that context, the buyer took the risk of buying foods or other goods that could cause illness, death, or property loss.
As modern industrial civilization developed, the principle of “measure for measure” began to play an important role in the commercial world, as producers aimed to provide consumers with a good or service that was worth the price. By ensuring that the price of a product was reasonable, and by requiring producers to offer quality and safety, this principle helped ensure that consumers were protected against fraudulent, misleading, or grossly deceptive practices.
Today, the concept of consumer defense has evolved from a simple legal framework to a more complex model that takes into account the broader social context of consumer commercial transactions. This approach, drawing on scholarship in the fields of technology, social change, and law, identifies three basic types of constraints to consumer behavior: legal, technical, and social.
In addition, it identifies the various types of consumer protections that exist and examines how they interact and influence each other. It then offers a set of policy recommendations and strategies for addressing consumer harms at a local level.
The first Article of the Constitution of Peru (Article 57) states that defence of the human person and respect for their dignity are the supreme goals of society and the State. It is this principle that should be the basis of any governmental consumer protection policy, including the laws passed by legislatures and regulations passed by administrative bodies.
This Article also establishes that the right to information is a core element of consumer protection, and that the content of such promises must be made transparent for vulnerable consumers. This right is particularly important for the protection of children and adolescents, as they are more susceptible to being misled or manipulated by marketing materials.
Moreover, this right requires producers to make their promises clear and publicize them in a variety of ways. This includes advertising, sales assistance, displays and labels, try-out periods, and testing with third parties.
Suppression of Choice:
Many restrictions on consumer freedoms, such as those that require government certification or licensing, reduce choices for consumers and thereby make them worse off.
In the United States, for example, federal regulations restrict the sale of some drugs that are not FDA-approved, and licensing restrictions limit the sales of certain products or services.
These kinds of laws are often called “banned-until-permitted” because they prevent producers from selling their goods and services until they have received government approval. This practice makes consumers worse off because it limits their choices, resulting in poorer outcomes.