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CONSUMER RIGHTS
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CONSUMER RIGHTS AND THEIR EXPANSION

The15th March of every year has a significant historic importance as it was on this day in 1962, when the Bill for Consumer Rights was moved in the US Congress. During his speech President John F. Kennedy had remarked: "If a consumer is offered inferior products, if prices are exorbitant, if drugs are unsafe or worthless, if the consumer is unable to choose on an informed basis, then his dollar is wasted, his health and safety may be threatened, and national interest
suffers."
John F. Kennedy had equated the rights of the ordinary American consumer with national interest. He gave the American consumer four basic rights:

1. The Right to Safety - to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health or life

2. The Right to Choose - to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices: and in those industries where competition is not workable and Government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.

3. The Right to Information - to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful or grossly misleading information, advertising, labeling, or other practices and to be given the facts s/he needs to make an informed choice.

4. The Right to be Heard - to be assured that consumer interests will receive full and sympathetic consideration in the formulation of Government policy, and fair and expeditious treatment in its administrative tribunals.

Kennedy recognized that consumers are the largest economic group in the country's economy, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. But they were also the only important group who were not effectively organized, whose views were not heard.

Therefore, the Federal Government, by nature the highest spokesman for all people, had a special obligation to the consumer's needs. Thirteen years later President Gerald Ford felt that the four rights constituted in Kennedy's Bill of Rights were inadequate for a situation where most consumers are not educated enough to make the right choices. So he added the Right to Consumer Education, as an informed consumer cannot be exploited easily.

While these rights served the interest of the American consumer well enough, they did not cover the whole gamut, because a global consumer did need, apart from them, other well-defined rights like basic needs, a healthy environment and redress.
The Consumers International (CI), former International Organization of Consumer Unions (IOCU), the umbrella body, for 240 organizations in over 100 countries, expanded the charter of consumers rights contained in the US Bill to eight, which in a logical order reads:

1. Basic Needs
2. Safety
3. Information
4. Choice
5. Representation
6. Redress
7. Consumer Education and
8. Healthy Environment.

This charter had a universal significance as they symbolized the aspirations of the poor and
disadvantaged. On this basis, the United Nations, in April 1985, adopted its Guidelines for
Consumer Protection.
Kenya is a signatory to the UN Charter and her new constitution under the bill of rights,

Article 46 provide for Consumers rights to:
1. Right to goods and services of reasonable quality;
2. Right to information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services;
3. Right to protection of their health, safety, and economic interests;
4. Right to Compensation for loss or injury arising from defects in goods or services.
5. It empowers the parliament to enact legislation to provide for consumer protection and
for fair, honest and decent advertising for goods and services offered by public entities
or private persons.

Article 43 (1) of Kenya's constitution, guarantee every person the right to:
1. Right to the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to health care
services, and reproductive health care;
2. Right to accessible and adequate housing,
3. Right to reasonable standards of sanitation;
4. Right to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality;
5. Right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities;
6. Right to social security;
7. Right to education.

 
   
 
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Useful consumer links
>> Competition Authority
>>Communication Commission of Kenya
>>Kenya Bureau of standards
>>Anti-Counterfeit Agency
>>Energy Regulatory Commission
>>Retirement Benefits Authority
>>Central Bank of Kenya
>>Capital Markets Authority
>>Kenya Human Rights Commission

 >>The Law Society of Kenya

>>Kenya Law Reforms Commission
>>Water Services Regulatory Board
>>Republic of Kenya Ministry of transport
>>Ministry of Medical Services
>>Ministry of public health and sanitation