Consumer Safety—Why Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Digital Security Matters More Than Ever
The success of any business is no longer solely focused on the product or service that’s for sale. Instead, companies need to be more customer-focused to ensure retention and growth. Cultivating healthy relationships with customers is essential. And building trust that cements a bond that encourages repeat business is the key to longevity.
One of the ways to start building relationships like this is to ensure your customers’ safety. But this safety isn’t just single-faceted. You must keep your customers physically, mentally, emotionally, or digitally safe. When customers feel safe buying from a company, they’re more likely to keep coming back.
But how do you ensure that you make customers feel safe in every way?
The answer is surprisingly simple. You follow the law.
Consumer Safety Laws Explained
There are various consumer safety laws that companies must comply with. These laws do so much more than just regulate a business’ operations. They can also help a business to become trustworthy and grow sustainably in the long run.
Consumer protection laws have been specifically crafted to protect consumers from businesses that partake in fraudulent practices or sell defective or unadvertised products. They intend to give the consumer rights in a market that can get competitive, ensuring everything remains above board. If companies abide by consumer protection laws, customers are wholly protected from dangerous business practices and products.
“Buyer Beware” No More
“Buyer beware” used to be the motto of the free enterprise market. It meant that buyers assumed the risk that a product may have defects or may fail to meet their expectations.
However, buyers are now protected more than ever. The legislature has recognized an unequal relationship between businesses and their consumers. Consumers, as the weaker party to these relationships, require extra protection. Companies must respect this inequality of power and seek to balance it out.
Consumer protection legislation, like the consumer product safety improvement act, exists for a multitude of reasons, including:
- To protect consumers from dangerous and unethical business practices that look to benefit the business at the expense of the consumer.
- To protect the private information of the consumer – digital safety. Since most business and consumer transactions now take place online, there must be some sort of safety net to protect consumers who willingly provide their private information to businesses online. Consumers are yearning for legislation that allows them to shop online stress-free without worrying about getting hacked or having their bank account details or identity details stolen.
Let’s take a look at the different types of relationships that the consumer product safety improvement act seeks to regulate.
Consumer Warranties and Service Contracts
The Federal Trade Commission regulates warranties for products and service contracts for most relationships that surround consumer goods.
A consumer warranty refers to promises made by the seller to the consumer that a product will serve the purpose that it’s advertised for. In most instances where a product fails to perform its intended purpose, this transgression falls under either a breach of warranty or false advertising, which we’ll cover later in this article.
Legislation on warranties seeks to promote consumer safety and protect customers from getting lied to or having the promise of the product’s use broken.
For example, if you buy a TV remote and it’s promised that the remote will work with a particular television, customers should be protected when that remote and television do not work together. The customer did not establish the expectation that the remote would work with the TV. It was, in fact, established by the business. Therefore, their expectation is that it would work – and this expectation is realistic.
Express or Implied Warranties
The consumer product safety improvement act mainly protects two types of warranties. These warranties are either express or implied warranties.
An express warranty is expressly made and explained to a customer. These are clear-cut. If a promise about a product is made and the product fails to live up to that promise, the customer will be protected based on the monetary investment made. In other words, a buyer could get their money back if the promise that’s expressly made in an advertisement or by the seller is not kept.
Implied warranties are a bit trickier as the promise has not been expressly made in any form. Here, the buyer or anybody looking to purchase a particular product from a seller can easily imply the warranty. If the seller places the item on the shelf and the item has a suggested use, then it’s only fair that the product lives up to the use implied by the seller.
Let’s use the example of if you go into a sporting goods store and there’s a shelf for bicycle tire pumps. The consumer readily assumes that the pumps on this shelf can pump air into the tire of their bicycle. The product then should fulfill this purpose – even if the seller did not expressly warrant the purpose. When the tire pump doesn’t work and doesn’t fulfill the implied purpose, the customer is protected by the Federal consumer protection laws surrounding warranties.
How Customers Can Take Action
So, what can the consumer do if a product fails to live up to an express or implied warranty?
The consumer product safety improvement act has outlined a process of action that consumers can follow in this case:
- The consumer should notify the seller that they intend to take action due to the product’s defective nature.
- This could lead to a few rounds of legally mandated mediation whereby a third-party mediator will hear the arguments of both parties and then help the parties come to a resolution.
- If no resolution is found and the buyer still feels aggrieved by the breach of warranty, the buyer can then sue the seller.
Make sure your business understands how warranties work in terms of the consumer protection legislation mentioned above. Ensuring that you abide by consumer safety laws and that you understand why consumers need this protection will make your company more trustworthy. The more reliable a business is, the greater its growth potential and success rate.
Consumers want to feel safe when buying from a company, and cultivating a relationship of trust will create loyal customers going forward. Loyal customers are the foundation of any healthy, growing company.
Is there a difference between being protected by a warranty and being protected from false advertising about a product? What is false advertising?
False advertising is precisely what it sounds like. It refers to an advertisement that makes false or misleading claims about a specific product.
A warranty differs from false advertising in that it mainly refers to the actual working of the product.
So, whereas a warranty is simply a promise that the product will work for the intended purpose, false advertising could refer to a situation where the seller promises that a product will perform function X. In contrast, it may only perform function Y or no function at all.
The breach of warranty can lead to legal action in some cases, for instance, where a few rounds of mediation between the parties fail. However, false advertising is considered a crime. When a company blatantly lies to a consumer, that consumer is completely protected. The company will accrue criminal liability and have to face the state in a legal battle. Consumers are thus well protected from false advertising.
If your company partakes in false advertising, this may signal the end of any further opportunities for growth.
What About Online Consumer Protection?
Ever since the pandemic, the world has gone increasingly online. This applies especially to shopping and services rendered. Almost every company globally now has an online presence of some kind – whether it’s a full-blown eCommerce store or a simple static site advertising their wares.
With this massive shift to online, there must be some form of regulation and customer protection in place, especially when you consider that consumers give out their personal information to companies online.
The Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act or ROSCA was created to protect online shoppers’ digital data. It came about due to the high numbers of incidents of consumers in the online sphere getting targeted and having their personal data stolen by hackers and scammers.
Understanding and abiding by these digital consumer protection laws are hugely important for the growth of your business. Particularly as more and more consumers start to move online for their everyday shopping needs. Digital leadership and understanding are essential in creating a safe and secure environment that promotes trust.
Gain the Trust of Consumers to Ensure Growth
So, it’s clear that the legislation surrounding the relationships between consumers and companies favors the consumer and offers them the protection they need. And rightly so, as consumer safety is of paramount importance.
The best way to ensure your business’s long-term growth is by understanding and abiding by the consumer safety laws mentioned above. This will gain the trust of your customers and turn them into loyal, returning buyers.