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Consumer organizations are advocacy groups that seek to protect people from corporate abuse like unsafe products, predatory lending, false advertising, astroturfing and pollution.
Consumer Organizations may operate via protests, litigation, campaigning, or lobbying. They may engage in single-issue advocacy (e.g., the British Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which campaigned against keg beer and for cask ale)or they may set themselves up as more general consumer watchdogs, such as the Consumers' Association in the UK.
One common means of providing consumers useful information is the independent comparative survey or test of products or services, involving different manufacturers or companies (e.g., Which? , Consumer Reports , etcetera).
Another arena where consumer organizations have operated is food safety. The needs for campaigning in this area are less easy to reconcile with their traditional methods, since the scientific, dietary or medical evidence is normally more complex than in other arenas, such as the electric safety of white goods. The current standards on mandatory labelling, in developed countries, have in part been shaped by past lobbying by consumer groups.
The aim of consumer organizations may be to establish and to attempt to enforce consumer rights. Effective work has also been done, however, simply by using the threat of bad publicity to keep companies' focus on the consumers' point of view.
Consumer organizations may attempt to serve consumer interests by relatively direct actions such as creating and/or disseminating market information, and prohibiting specific acts or practices, or by promoting competitive forces in the markets which directly or indirectly affect consumers (such as transport, electricity, communications, etc.).
Two precursor organizations to the modern consumer organization are standards organizations and consumers leagues.Both of these appeared in the United States around 1900.
Trade associations and professional societies began to establish standards organizations to reduce industry waste and increase productivity.Consumer leagues modeled themselves after trade unions in their attempts to improve the market with boycotts in the same way that trade unions sought to improve working conditions with strike action.
Aside from this general consumer organisation, the Netherlands is home to many categorical consumer organisations whose working terrain is limited to a certain part of the markets. Examples of categorical organisations include:
Finally, there is a business regulation agency, charged with competition oversight, sector-specific regulation of several sectors, and enforcement of consumer protection laws:
The Swiss Alliance of Consumer Organisations is the umbrella organisation of the three Swiss consumer organisations (the Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz (SKS) of German-speaking Switzerland, the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC) of French-speaking Switzerland and the Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana (ACSI) of Italian-speaking Switzerland).
In the United Kingdom, the Enterprise Act 2002 allows consumer bodies that have been approved by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to be designated as "super-complainants" to the Competition and Markets Authority. These super-complainants are intended to, "strengthen the voice of consumers," who are "unlikely to have access individually to the kind of information necessary to judge whether markets are failing for them." Eight have been designated as of 2007 [update] :
By 1969 most capitalist countries with developed marketplaces hosted consumer organizations that published consumer magazines which reported the results of product testing.Internationally, the idea of consumer organizations spread from Consumers Union in the United States starting in 1956. The growth of interest in product testing journalism might be explained by increased consumption of mass-marketed products in and before that period. That increased international consumption itself was an effect of the aftermath of World War II.
|Year magazine started||Magazine||Country||Publisher||Year publisher founded||1969 sales||1975 sales|
|1936||Consumer Reports||USA||Consumers Union||1936||1,800,000||2,300,000|
|1953||Forbruker Rapporten||Norway||Forbrukerradet (Consumers Council)||1953||169,000||235,000|
|1957||Rad och Ron||Sweden||Statens Institut for Konsumenfragor (Institute for Consumer Information)||1957||104,718||n.a.|
|1959||Test-Achats||Belgium||Association des Consommateurs / Verbruikersunie (AC/V)||1957||102,235||240,000|
|1959||Choice||Australia||Australian Consumers' Association||1959||67,204||120,000|
|1961||Rad og Resultater||Denmark||Statens Husholdningsrad (Home Economics Council)||1935||28,100||n.a.|
|1961||Que Choisir||France||Union Federale des Consommateurs (UFC)||1951||15,000||30,000|
|1961||Konsument||Austria||Verein fur Konsumenteninformation (VKI)||1960||25,000||n.a.|
|1963||Canadian Consumer||Canada||Consumers' Association of Canada||1947||43,000||n.a.|
|1964||Taenk||Denmark||Danske Husmodres Forbrugerrad (Danish Housewives Council)||1947||48,000||n.a.|
|1965||Il Consumatore||Italy||Unione Nazionale Consumatori||1965||100,000||n.a.|
|1970||50 Millions de Consummateurs||France||Institut National de la Consommation||1967||0||300,000|
|2012||Consumer Voice||Pakistan||Consumer Voice Pakistan||2012||0||n.a|
In the 25 years after World War II, there was a correlation between the number of people in a country who were purchasing cars and the popularity of consumer magazines.In some cases, an increase in other consumer purchases seemed to drive popularity of consumer magazines, but the correlation was closest for populations who made decisions about buying cars. The availability of consumer magazines comforted consumers when individuals in society suddenly became overwhelmed with marketplace decisions, and the popularity of magazines seemed to grow as more marketplace decisions became available.
The European Committee for Standardization is a public standards organization whose mission is to foster the economy of the European Single Market and the wider European continent in global trading, the welfare of European citizens and the environment by providing an efficient infrastructure to interested parties for the development, maintenance and distribution of coherent sets of standards and specifications.
An extended warranty, sometimes called a service agreement, a service contract, or a maintenance agreement, is a prolonged warranty offered to consumers in addition to the standard warranty on new items. The extended warranty may be offered by the warranty administrator, the retailer or the manufacturer. Extended warranties cost extra and for a percentage of the item's retail price. Occasionally, some extended warranties that are purchased for multiple years state in writing that during the first year, the consumer must still deal with the manufacturer in the occurrence of malfunction. Thus, what is often promoted as a five-year extended guarantee, for example, is actually only a four-year guarantee.
International Consumer Research & Testing (ICRT) is a global consortium of more than 40 consumer organisations dedicated to carrying out joint research and testing in the consumer interest.
Most commonly known as CHOICE, the Australian Consumers' Association is an Australian not for profit consumer advocacy organisation. It is an independent membership based organisation founded in 1959 that researches and campaigns on behalf of Australian consumers. It is similar to the Consumers Union in the United States and Which? in the United Kingdom, who are considered sister organisations. It is the largest consumer organisation in Australia.
Consumers International is the membership organisation for consumer groups around the world. Founded on 1 April 1960, it has over 250 member organisations in 120 countries. Its head office is based in London, England, with regional offices in Latin America, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
The European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) is the umbrella organization umbrella organisation for 30 police unions and staff organisations in Europe. Representing the interests of over 250,000 police officers in 25 European countries, it was founded in 2002 at a conference in Roskilde, Denmark, emerging from the Union Internationale des Syndicats de Police (UISP), which had existed since 1953. It was created in order to enable further organizations, particularly ones from the United Kingdom, to join. The union's headquarters is in Luxembourg.
The European Newspaper Publishers' Association (ENPA) is an international non-profit group advocating the interests of the European newspaper publishing industry at different European and international organisations and institutions. ENPA's members together represent over 5,200 national, regional and local newspaper titles that in 2008 were bought by around 140 million people and read by 280 million people per day. Publishing industries as a whole constitute an important economic sector in the EU, then employing more than 750,000 people in 64,000 companies.
Union des Fabricants (Unifab) was created by several pharmaceutical manufacturers in 1872, when they realised that their products were being counterfeited in Germany and came together to create the "Charte de l'Union des Fabricants".
The Union nationale des associations de défense des familles et de l'individu (UNADFI) is a French anti-cult association founded in 1974, recognized as a public utility association by a decree of 30 April 1996, and directly subsidized by the French State. It gathers and coordinates the Associations de Défense des Familles et de l'Individu (ADFI), whose purpose is to acquire information on the cult phenomenon, with prevention and assistance for its victims.
Pierre Delval is a French criminologist and forensic scientist, specialized in counterfeiting and counterfeit-crime. He is the President and founder of the Swiss WAITO Foundation, the first nongovernmental organization to deal with the criminal aspect of counterfeiting, contraband and food fraud at an international level. He is the author of several publications on counterfeit consumer goods and fiduciary documents. He is regularly consulted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the United Nations on the latest issues regarding the convergence between consumer protection and human rights. Often criticized by intellectual property rights protection associations for his alternative policy in the fight against dangerous counterfeiting, Delval's plan of action is still essentially focused on consumer protection as concerns safety and public health, and the defense of states' economic interests and assets.
Consumer protection in the United Kingdom is effected through a multiplicity of Acts of Parliament, statutory instruments, government agencies and departments and citizens' lobby groups and aims to ensure the market economy produces fairness and quality in goods and services people buy. The main areas of regulating consumer affairs include,
The European Consumer Organisation, from the French name Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs, "European Bureau of Consumers' Unions") is an umbrella consumers' group, founded in 1962. Based in Brussels, Belgium, it brings together 45 European consumer organisations from 32 countries.
The consumer movement is an effort to promote consumer protection through an organized social movement, which is in many places led by consumer organizations. It advocates for the rights of consumers, especially when those rights are actively breached by the actions of corporations, governments, and other organizations which provide products and services to consumers. Consumer movements also commonly advocate for increased health and safety standards, honest information about products in advertising, and consumer representation in political bodies.
The Swiss Alliance of Consumer Organisations, founded in 2010, is the umbrella organisation of the three Swiss consumer organisations:
Aminata Koné is a French lawyer and activist for affordable family housing. She has been the vice-president of the Abbé Pierre Foundation for Affordable Housing, the general secretary of the family advocacy union Confédération syndicale des familles, and a member of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council. She is a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour, and an Officier (Officer) of the Ordre national du Mérite.