Celebration | World Consumer Rights Day

17 03 2010

The English language, so versatile and vague that the word ‘right‘ can be denoted as something bad or a notion of entitlement.  Example;  The right-wing EDL wish to deny the rights’ of Muslims.  Probably one of the main reasons I’m losing my compassion is the constant screaming for sympathy.  Especially when it comes to Mickey Mouse Fronts.

Consumerism is on its way to becoming a religion in its own right (pun could not be avoided).  Just like JC, us consumers, who by necessity consume, now have our own day, hurrah.  Well, actually, it has been around a lot longer but with so many of these ‘organisations’ floating in the stream of crap we call geo-politics, it is very difficult to keep track of them all.

What could a day for consumers possibly mean?  No VAT on any goods?  Every 100th customer gets a free ice-cream?  Maybe it is the day to gorge on junkfood, beer and cigs to get back at all those Nazi-fitness days…

World Consumer Rights Day

World Consumer Rights Day is an annual occasion for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement.

More importantly it is a time for promoting the basic rights of all consumers, for demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and for protesting the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.

World Consumer Rights Day was first observed on 15 March 1983, and has since become an important occasion for mobilising citizen action.

Consumer organisations around the world use materials produced by Consumers International to generate local initiatives and media coverage for their work over the coming year.

Nothing about a VAT holiday, free ice-cream or gorging to our heart’s discontent.  To get a better understanding of what this group is actually campaigning for, I had a gander at their 2010 release.  All about needing more financial services.  More transactions mean more fees.  Wow.  Wonder who would back such an organisation.

Our Money, Our Rights

Consumers and financial services

The FS sector is lagging behind many other industries, both in terms of customer care and basic access. For example, there will soon be 1.7 billion people in the world with mobile phones but no bank account.

The UN reported in 2006 that risks in lending to the poor have been consistently overrated.  At its peak in 2007, the FS sector accounted for 14% of GDP in the US.  While accounting for 5% of private sector jobs, during this time FS was responsible for no less than 40% of total corporate profits (up from 6% in the 1980s3) and 23% of stock market value.  And with the furore over salaries and bonuses at the time of the financial crisis, many argue that the sector has badly under-served poor consumers while considerably over-serving its own senior executives.

While bank account coverage in Denmark for instance, is 99%, in most developing countries formal finance sectors provide access to only 20% of the population and actual usage is lower still. In India, 73% of 89 million farmer households have no access to formal sources of credit, and 82% of the rural dwellers do not have insurance. In Laos, 90% of the rural population do not have access to formal banking services.

CI carried out a survey of member activities during August and September 2009 in preparation for World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2010. The results, summarised here, reveal a wide spectrum of experience, encompassing ‘traditional’ activities such as consumer education, comparative information and advice, as well as high level representation vis-à-vis regulators and service providers, legal actions and the development of new forums for service providers to face their customers.

The responses received from across all regions of the globe indicate that a majority of CI member organisations focus on private sector FS, mainly:

• retail banking (deposits and payments)

• consumer credit

• loans for house purchases

• insurance

Many CI members also work on public sector FS, such as pensions and social security, as well as third sector providers, such as mutuals and cooperatives. In addition there is a growing diversity of work by consumer organisations in this area, including:

• capital markets and investment in India and Spain

• pensions in The Netherlands

• informal money lending in both rich and poor countries in the UK and Fiji

• management of mutual savings banks in Spain

So lets see what happened on that joyous day.  State-owned Chinese Company takes swipe at US listed Computer Company “by bringing the faulty laptop-related issue to light at the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) show.”  The Consumer Protection and Action Committee in Ahmedabad “observing World Consumer Rights Day CPAC is hosting a demonstration and exhibition at Apna Bazar near Lal Darwaza promoting awareness and practice of consumer rights.”  Great, one failed show and a demo.  Not much of a day out then.

Even our own deloved Gormless Brown threw his ten-pence in with “We want not only to empower and protect you as consumers, but also to make banks and credit card companies behave responsibly and act fairly.”  Cannot help but cry whenever this man speaks cos you just know he will jinx it.  I wouldn’t trust him with my VAT returns, fetching the ice-cream or enjoy a nice relaxing gorgefest consisting of junkfood, beer and cigs.

Only reason Gordon Shit would screw the banks is  due to the fact it’s election time.  After that, this can be put in the draw with that EU referendum.

I always did prefer Easter.  At least we get a long weekend.

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