Recently OECD organised a seminar in Paris on the social responsibility for businesses, where the consumer played a leading role. During the meeting Meglena Kuneva, EC Commissioner for Consumer Protection, stated that the most important task for all economic operators is to regain the consumer trust. Kuneva wished that businesses would concentrate more on price and quality instead of sophisticated marketing strategies. That’s not a bad idea.
It’s important to hang on to existing customers, and easier to find new ones with clear facts and accessible terms of contract. Consumers must be able to make their own choices – pre-ticked boxes don’t give the consumer real freedom of choice. Samuel Ochieng, the President of Consumers International, reminded us at the same meeting, that the right to choose is but one of the consumers` rights, such as the right to be informed and the right to be heard. The president stressed that companies should be accountable to workers, to consumers and to all those within their sphere of influence.
The speeches repeated delightfully often the view that consumer education and consumers overall should not be saddled with the whole responsibility for functioning markets, but that legislation and consumer protection must also play a central role.
Consumer protection must work on a practical level and there both large and small businesses have their work cut out. From our part we are, together with other organisations, making companies’ working day easier with the toolbar on our website, which consists of ever increasing information pages and helpful tools for practical situations. We have developed only a few of these practical tools so far, but there has been great demand for all of them: pocket size e-business and credit card business checklists for vendors, the Discount Campaign Assistant to guarantee a successful campaign, and the latest, the Warranty Assistant, to help with the trade in domestic appliances. And a special thank you to those open minded organisations that have helped us to adapt information especially for business needs. Suggestions for new tools are always welcome!
18th June 2009