Consumer protection acts are pieces of legislation passed by a country or a nation in order to protect consumers from exploitation by the retailers or suppliers. It protects the rights of consumers by ensuring that consumers are treated well in the markets. Within the outreach of the consumer and commercial law, there are roles distinctly indicated by the groups and individual activists within the market place scope whose main aim is to ensure consumers are protected. These consumer protection acts ensures that the involved parties’ rights are legislatively protected and ethical and legal practices are employed in the course of business activity (Howells, & Weatherill, 2017). Consumers are the entities or rather individuals who always willingly participate in the commercial marketplace involving themselves in financial transactions and purchases regarding the goods and services available in the market. Generally, on the international grounds, Consumer Protection Acts always serve as kinds of regulatory measures protecting the rights of the consumers.
Suppliers on the other hand are the entities or rather individuals in the commercial market place whose sole duty is provision or presenting goods and services in the presence of consumers for purchase. Even though there are rules and legislation defining the acceptable practices suppliers are entitled to, there are cases where they still go contrary to these rules and begin consumer exploitation (Howells, & Weatherill, 2017). Some of the legislations regarding supplies include fair pricing of goods and services, fair pricing in the market, illegality of monopolization practices in commerce, and lastly abstinence from fraudulent or misleading advertisements concerning a given product or service that is product description is always typical.
In the United States, some of the bodies entitled to consumer protection include the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Both are government braches dealing with cases of consumer protection. They administer and regulate the commercial affairs in relation to consumer fortification. Federal Trade Commission has been in place for quite a long time and it has been responsible for the administration of rights that are related to Consumer Protection Acts. The Acts included the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (Koopman et al. 2014). The mentioned act clearly delineates expectation, legal responsibilities and requirements of the suppliers in the marketplace.
Both the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s work is to stop unfair pricing of goods and services, misleading and even fraudulent practices in business. They ensure all this is done by collecting complaints from the consumers, conducting investigations on the matters and taking the necessary legal actions against the companies or organizations under scrutiny. To ensure consumers are well conversant with their rights so that they are able to report any misconduct, these occasionally conduct consumer campaign awareness and through this platform, they are able to make the consumers aware of their legal rights in the market place. Once the consumers are aware of their rights and responsibilities, they are able to identify any form of misappropriation by the retailers or suppliers and report such case.
Under the jurisdiction of the law protecting the consumers, there are well-stated steps laid down by these two bodies for proper investigation and suing of the individuals or companies breaking the laws. Consumer protection is a collection of laws and groupings designed to ensure that consumer rights, fair trade environment, competition and lastly accurate information concerning goods is offered in the market place. These laws culminates not only consumer exploitation but also companies and organizations using unfair methods in competition in the market (Koopman et al. 2014). Companies are supposed to compete on a fair ground hence through such healthy competitions, even the consumers will end up getting quality goods and services.
Once a consumer has reported any form of misconduct to either of the two companies, they collect any tangible evidence from the consumer, which will include gathering documents to support the complaint. These documents may include warranties, sale receipt, signed contracts and a times even the work orders from the purchase. In the documents supporting the misconduct, on can also print out the mails and even the activity logs of the contacts he or she might have made with the seller just before cutting a deal. Once that is done, either of these two companies are entitled to the case. It is their responsibility to find the legal grounds upon, which the customer or consumer will advocate for justice (Newton, 2015). The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have state given attorneys whose work is to file these kinds of petitions in the court and ensure that appropriate action is taken towards these individuals or companies breaking the law.
A typical example of consumer misconduct by the companies that may bring to attention the concern of the two bodies is a situation where a consumer falls victim to defraud by buying a good or service that clearly does not measure to the amount of money paid for the same. This is the most common kind of consumer misconduct practiced by many companies. Giving wrong information on the description of their goods and services even though in real sense, these products do not add up to the anticipated pricing put forward by the same company. These may make the consumer suffer losses besides other incidental expenses. In the perspective of the Consumer protection agencies, such an amount of money lost by the consumer is just a fraction of what it takes them to end that kind of misconduct.
Just to mention, some of the cases handled by these two bodies includes first, the Aluminum Company of The United States case in the year 1945. These company was accused by the Federal Trade Commission for putting up mergers that to dominate the industry by overriding the competitors. The FTC managed to handle the case and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of FTC. They managed to block the mergers. The other case handle by FTC was the antitrust case of a cell phone company called giant AT & T later in the year 1984. In this case, as well, the Supreme Court made a judgement making the company to get broken down into seven different and regional operating units called Baby Bells (Newton, 2015).
It went further ahead to restrict AT&T from services over long distances. The other case taken down by these two bodies is the giant case against Microsoft Corporation in the year 1999. Being the World leading software manufacturers the case was a landmark in the history of consumer protection bodies and activists. FTC and the sister organization filed a court case preventing the company from including Web browsers in the operating system of a computer since these was going to be a pure monopoly in the computing arena. The filed petition succeeded and a breakup of windows and the web browser companies was initiated. However, an appellate court disapproved the ruling later in the year 2001. The number of case handled by these two organization including the case of Jones v. Wells Fargo Bank, 317. The case are so many and these organizations have been able to deal with them correctly and fairly.
Penalties to such cases vary in most occasions and they range from fines to even more badly than that. Appropriation of receivers and monitors is also a penalty that can be given to corporations found guilty. The result can be even as bad as freezing of the corporation’s assets and financers in found necessary by the law. However, a number of determinants are taken into consideration by the court before imposing penalties to the organizations found guilty.
The calculation of the amount of fines to be imposed to companies always depend on the unit of penalty as stated by the Crimes Act of 1914 (Koo, 2015). Anti-competitive practices like Carte conducts and misuse of the market power are also punishable by law as stated by the FTC and CFP. The law prohibits cartels under the civil law is a criminal offence. Any company or individual found guilty of the offence is liable to civil penalties and in case of a corporation; fines or pecuniary fines can be applied. Secondary boycott as well is a form of penalty that an organization can suffer in case they are found guilty of an offence (Koo, 2015). Under this form of punishment, the public can be warned against buying goods from a given company and through thus, the company will make losses which will make change their approach to the market in a more ethical and legal manner as stated by the law.
In summary, the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have played a major role in ensuring consumers in the United States are treated well and the goods offered to them are too of the standards required. The government has been very sensitive in the protection of their citizens against malpractices by the business organizations and individuals sometimes called the cartels who wants to gain by imposing pain to citizens unknowingly. Several cases have been put forward by these two organizations and through proper justice; they have been able to curb the misconducts in our country.
Howells, G., & Weatherill, S. (2017). Consumer protection law. Routledge.
Koopman, C., Mitchell, M., & Thierer, A. (2014). The sharing economy and consumer protection regulation: The case for policy change. J. Bus. Entrepreneurship & L., 8, 529.
Newton, C. D. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 9,177,317. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Koo, J. H. (2015). B. Enhancing Financial Consumer Protection with Effective Disclosure of Financial Information. Korean Economic and Financial Review, 20(2), 49-52.