Celebrating Consumer Rights Day
To raise awareness of the rights of consumers, March fifteenth is set aside to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day. Since the early 1980’s, the day is celebrated annually to instigate action among citizens for the international consumer movement. It provides a platform for consumers to voice challenges they face and ensures that their rights are respected and protected over injustice committed in the market. Here in Belize, the Belize Bureau of Standards observes the day and celebrates with the rest of the world.
Rodolfo Gutierrez, Consumer Protection Liaison Officer, Belize Bureau of Standards
“Every year for world consumer rights day a new theme is established by an agency by the name of Consumer International. And if you will note on the board here. The theme for this year is building a digital world consumers can trust. What that means to us here, is that with the advent of the digital age, everything is being done via the internet; a lot of purchasing being done now and a lot of services are being offered online and consumers need to be aware or be reminded of what their rights are in terms of dealing in this avenue of trade, nuh?”
“Now, Mister Gutierrez, are you able to share with us – a lot of people – as consumers of products and services here in Belize – are not aware of our rights. What are some of the things we can demand from people who offer goods and services?”
“Okay. As you can see clearly here on the board we have eight basic rights. One of the most important rights is the right to choose. You as a consumer, you have that right of selection ability whenever you go anywhere you have that right and responsibility to choose which product you would want to purchase. Another important one is the right to be informed. As a consumer when you go to a shop, if the product is very beneficial to you, and you are interested to know about the product, the right of the supplier is to inform you of that product and tell you how beneficial that product is to you. Another important one in my mind is the right to redress – redress means if you have any difficulty purchasing a product or doing any transaction, the supplier has the responsibility whenever you come back to provide that satisfaction to you whichever way it may happen it is up to them, nuh?”
“Some people have really bad experiences where the owners of these establishments totally refuse to reimburse them or make the situation right; what can you do in those situations?”
“What we suggest to consumers – we have a toll free hotline 0-800-2-TELL-US. Give us a call if it entails – with the purchase of any product they may have had bad transactions with; any services that they may have and if we can do something to assist them we will. It is true we don’t have a consumer protection legislation; we only have a draft at this point in time. But what we do, since we are mandated by law, to push bits and pieces of other legislation – and so we take bits and pieces to protect them and see what we can do to remedy or find some adequate redress for them.”