A guide to understanding your consumer rights

All customers have a right to receive a functional and safe product with every purchase. Every time you buy a product, whether physical or digital, it is imperative to know that you are protected by the law against a defective or deceptive goods and services. The product must be of good quality and should function as described by the vendor. Here are a few guidelines on your rights as a consumer.

What the Law Says

Every time you make a purchase from a seller, whether it is on a sale or with a discount voucher, the two of you enter into a contract. The vendor is required by law to provide you with an item that is fit for the intended purpose, of acceptable quality and must match the description given by the seller or the sample and demonstration model shown to you before the purchase. Therefore, if a vendor sells you a product that is defective or dissimilar to what to what they described or indicated, you have a right to return the item and claim a refund or replacement.

What to Do in Case of a Faulty Product

If you buy a defective product that is not suitable for the purpose you intended, or that poses a danger to you, your first action should be to contact the retailer immediately. The remedies could be different depending on various factors such as if the product is repairable or not, if it has inflicted any damage or if you have suffered any consequential losses. If the seller is hesitant to compensate you for the loss incurred, repair the item if possible or offer you a replacement, you can seek legal advice from a qualified attorney on the best course of action to take.

The Chargeback Process

Your debit card and credit card issuer can assist you to file a dispute regarding a transaction charged on the card. You can, therefore, initiate a chargeback in several scenarios such as: if you receive a faulty product; if you paid for a product but never received it; in case of identity theft or an incorrect billing among others. The secret to a quick resolution is prompt filing of any disputed transaction. Most banks insist that your right to file a chargeback is limited to the first 120 days after the purchase. However, chargeback expert Brad Micklin explains that every customer’s case is unique, and he further notes that in some cases, a chargeback process has been initiated up to 540 days after the transaction date. This, therefore, means that regardless of the time you notice an irregular transaction on your card, there is a chance that you may succeed in your bid to resolve the dispute. It is advisable to engage the services of a qualified attorney to assist you in the chargeback process if you do not get the necessary help from your card issuer.

Major Consumer Protection and Regulation Agencies

There are several public bodies whose fundamental role is safeguarding vulnerable consumers from exploitation by rogue traders. These include Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that regulates advertisements and prevents fraud and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which safeguards public health and protects food supply. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) protects consumers from deceptive financial products and provides necessary information to guide customers in selecting suitable financial services while Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) evaluates consumer products to ensure that they are safe for consumption. Other crucial agencies are National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which regulates the transportation sector to protect consumers from road accidents resulting from lawlessness and defective vehicles and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), whose role is to protect investors and facilitate capital formation while maintaining orderly, fair and efficient markets. All these government bodies are tasked with safeguarding your interests as a consumer, so if you ever have a problem obtaining a compensation for a faulty product or a mis-selling by a service provider, these agencies can be of great help.

As a consumer, it is important to know and understand your rights. Hence, it is important that you get all the necessary information regarding the actions to take when the seller violates your rights. If you are not clear on any particular course of action, seek clarification from the experts.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.