Consumer defense is a term used to describe the efforts of businesses, governments, and consumer advocacy organizations to protect consumers from harm. The goal of these efforts is to ensure that the rights of consumers are not violated and that they can pursue remedies if they have been wronged.
The first step in this process is to identify the harms and develop and test interventions that address those harms. The second step is to implement and disseminate these research findings through community outreach, policymaking, or other interventions.
There are many ways in which business can abuse consumers, but the most obvious way is to misrepresent the product or service that they are offering. This can be done by omitting key information, claiming false warranties, or misrepresenting the product’s quality and safety.
Another way in which businesses can abuse consumers is by imposing one-sided contracts that limit their legal rights. For example, in a one- way contract, the consumer’s rights to sue for breach of contract or seek recovery of money owed under the contract are not enforceable.
While this is a serious problem, it can be overcome by market innovation that creates alternatives to the existing legal regime. For instance, the Internet has already brought a number of intermediaries to market that specialize in offering consumer protection services.
These services may include warranties, product recalls, refunds, and replacement. They are inexpensive, convenient, and easy to administer.
They can be used by consumers who have purchased goods or services from a business that is known to provide good products and services, but who experience problems with those purchases. They can also be used by consumers who have been misled or defrauded in their purchase.
This can help to restore trust in the marketplace and prevent future misrepresentation. It can also protect legitimate businesses from being damaged and deter illegitimate practices.
The National Consumer Law Center has a history of working to stop exploitative and unlawful practices, help financially stressed families build and retain wealth, and advance economic fairness. Its work focuses on the needs of lower-income people and disadvantaged groups, including tribes, women, mothers, immigrants, older adults, people with disabilities, and rural low-income people.
It has a broad portfolio of consumer law and energy policy expertise and works with public officials, private attorneys, nonprofits, and other advocates to achieve these goals. It also publishes publications, provides training and legal support to its members, and litigates on behalf of consumers.
These services are available free of charge to Oregonians. The organization is subject to oversight by the non-profit Oregon Consumer Justice, which is committed to advancing consumer justice, shaping an equitable and inclusive marketplace, and improving the lives of Oregonians as consumers.
The current enforcement-based consumer protection regime, while providing some protections, is not effective enough to meet the challenge of enforcing consumer rights in the face of business exploitation. It is therefore time to consider alternative means of protecting consumers and fostering fair and efficient markets.