Being a consumer is probably not something you like to think about. This word alone can conjure up images of an apocalyptic, dystopian, “WALL-E” universe where humans are materialistic, wasteful and greedy. But let’s put that sad picture aside for a moment and think about some positive thoughts.
Like it or not, you are a consumer. Companies around the world spend billions of dollars every year marketing to you. Which means that every day you are exposed to thousands of ads competing for your money. But you are not helpless. By simply being careful, doing research, and enduring a bit of delayed gratification, you can regain control as a consumer.
That’s why on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day will be recognized around the world. And it’s not just another random holiday (looking at you National Panda Day). World Consumer Rights Day is a global event aimed at raising awareness and advocating for the rights and needs of consumers.
Let me explain to you. Consumer rights simply mean that anyone buying anything, literally anything, has the right to information about the quality, purity, price and standards of what they are buying. Consumers International puts it this way:
“[Consumer rights is] on our right to access the basic things we need to live, including food, shelter and clean water. It’s about making sure your new TV won’t break down after three months, that your car has the features and technology to keep you safe, and that the data companies collect about you online doesn’t are neither lost nor stolen.
World Consumer Rights Day is about changing that story of the materialistic consumer we talked about earlier, taking back control of our rights and becoming wise spenders. Sounds good, but how do you go from falling into the traps to being in charge of your financial destiny? I have three tips for you.
The first thing you should do when considering a purchase – especially one that falls outside the basic necessities of life – is to ask yourself what sales incentives might be in play and who really benefits?
You are still marketed. And frankly, with all the research and neuroscience at their fingertips, companies know you better than you know yourself. Marketing isn’t a bad thing, but you need to be able to see through and spend because it’s your decision, not because of shrewd marketing.
The presence of a product in the store or on a shelf, how the brand makes you feel, urgent sales or promotions, convenient payment methods, fundraising tactics, these are common consumer pitfalls. daily. Remember: companies don’t offer a sale where they don’t come out on top. And everything is 100% if you don’t buy it. How’s that for a deal?
The second tip is to make sure you are confident about the purchase you are making. For starters, do you understand the terms and conditions? You might not read all the fine print, but pay attention to the details: return policies, warranties, and proof that this is a reputable researcher, and not some kind of scam.
If it’s a major purchase, have you done your research? Are the reviews reliable? Companies will use positive reviews on their own website (genius, right?), so check out independent sources for product reviews.
And some spaces, like crypto, are still too new to be properly regulated. So if you’re looking to spend money on a crypto or investing app, see what their customer service is like before diving too deep. A good filter to use is this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
My final piece of advice is where to go if things go wrong. If you have a consumer complaint and customer service isn’t helping you, take a deep breath and contact your friends at the Better Business Bureau. They help navigate market disputes and work with law enforcement agencies on scams or fraud.
Likewise, the Federal Trade Commission will take your fraud and identity theft cases. Be sure to report any scams, fraud or criminal activity to your local police and bank. They can help you if you run into any scams, but ultimately what happens to your money is up to you.
Taking back control as a consumer means believing that you are in control. I want you to defend yourself financially and stop letting life happen to you. You can play defense by paying attention to marketing. You can fight back by making sure you have confidence in your purchases. And you can exercise your rights by contacting the people who can help you.
Now go ahead and spend wisely. Oh, and Happy World Consumer Rights Day!