Consumer rights and protection
- Protection of consumers’ economic interests
- How can consumers protect their rights
- Consumers’ right of representation
The extent and level of protecting fundamental consumer rights is one of the indicators of the development level of a state’s economy:
Fundamental consumer rights are:
- the right to demand goods and services that meet the mandatory requirements at the very least;
- the right to be protected from goods or services that are harmful to the life, health and property of the consumers or the environment or that are prohibited from being owned or used;
- the right to obtain necessary and truthful information in order to make a conscious choice among the goods and services offered;
- the right to request that the consumers’ interest are taken into account and to be represented through consumers’ federations and associations in the decision-making process on consumer policy issues;
- the right to demand state protection in case of violation of consumer rights;
- the right to demand that the seller compensate for any material or moral damage incurred by the consumer.
The Consumer Protection Act establishes a requirement according to which, upon the payment for goods or services, the trader shall provide the consumer with a document certifying the purchase of the goods or services and setting out at least:
- the name of business name of the trader and the address of the place of business;
- the date of the sale;
- the price of each of the goods or each service and the total amount paid.
Providing such a document shall be obligatory if the amount paid by the consumer exceeds 20 euros. Otherwise, the document shall only be provided upon the consumer’s demand.
Protection of consumers’ economic interests
Consumers shall be protected from the activities of unfair producers, intermediaries, sellers and service providers. Protection is understood to be: avoidance of misleading advertising, supervision over consumer credit, avoidance of unfair terms and conditions of contracts, provision of correct pricing information, avoidance of tourism-related issues etc.
How can consumers protect their rights
The instruction manuals accompanying goods must always be read carefully. Pay attention to the care symbols, so that the goods could be used purposefully and would not be ruined due to incompetence. The purchase of goods or services also constitutes an agreement between the buyer and the seller. The terms and conditions of the agreement are clarified orally upon offering the goods or services (e.g. what kind of features the DVD player or photo camera has, is the footwear meant for dry or wet weather), but a number of requirements also arise from legislation and must be taken into consideration by both parties. An agreement entered into thusly must ensure the consumer’s satisfaction with the purchase.
According to the Consumer Protection Act:
- the seller is responsible for the goods and services it sells;
- the goods shall be harmless and have the characteristics which can normally be expected of them by consumers;
- the seller shall give the consumer truthful information about the goods.
These are a consumer’s legal rights, which apply for any goods or services purchased from a store, street, market, catalogue or by mail order. However, if the purchased goods or services prove to be unsatisfactory and this constitutes a violation of the agreement entered into, consumer rights should be protected. The simplest way to do so is to file a complaint.
Consumers’ right of representation
Consumers shall have the right to participate in making decisions concerning them – either themselves or via their representatives. The following have been formed for such participation:
- consumer organisations;
- state authorities protecting consumer rights.
An advisory body – the Consumer Protection Council – has been formed in Estonia. It unites both consumer federations and consumer protection officials representing the state. The Consumer Protection Council of the Republic of Estonia includes the representatives of consumer federations and other organisations acting in the interests of consumers, as well as authorised representatives of the consumer protection institutions of local governments.