The New Consumer Bill Of Rights

The folks over at Fearless Revolution have made several iterative amendments to JFK’s 1964 Consumer Bill of Rights to update it for the modern age.

The four original tenants were 1. The Right to Safety, 2. The Right to be Informed, 3. The Right to Choose, and 4. The Right to Be Heard. President Clinton added a fifth, The Right to Service in 1994.

The Fearless Revolution version doesn’t add any new rights but it does make several tweaks. For instance, under The Right to Be Informed, the group removed “grossly” from “grossly misleading information” as something consumers should be protected against. “We felt that misleading information should not be tolerated, whether it is “grossly misleading” or just your standard everyday misleading,” wrote Fearless Revolution.

They also added “labor conditions” and other information about how products are made, including material origin and its total ingredients, as data that consumers should have a right to. And apropos of Colbert Super PAC, they added “political activity” to the list of information consumers need to be able to make an informed choice. This is to reflect the flood of corporate cash that saturates the political process nowadays, which was but a sliver, comparatively speaking, in JFK’s time.

New Consumer Bill Of Rights [Fearless Revolution]

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  1. mauispiderweb says:

    At first glance, I thought it was a copy of the Daily Prophet.

  2. Firevine says:

    And these will continue to be completely and totally ignored by printer manufacturers.

  3. ap0 says:

    It scares me that they capitalize “Government” like a religious person would capitalize “God.” It’s not a proper noun.

  4. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    If I submitted this to my graphic design class, I would have received a failing grade for ignoring nearly every rule of typography.

    Hell, using gray for the bulk of the text except the black circle around the 1 and the number 5? Really? Was this a rush job?

    </nitpick>

    • mauispiderweb says:

      The overlapping beige text boxes that don’t mesh, or line up, is killing my sense of balance.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        Yes. Alignment was one of the fundamentals we learned. Balance and symmetry go a long way toward making something attractive. The imbalance here is just disorienting and unpleasant.

        My biggest problem, though, is that the message feels buried. It is very poorly served by these design choices, where the most attention is drawn to the numbers heading up each section. They are all in different styles, they are bolder and darker than the rest of the text, and so the numbers themselves are much more eye-catching than anything else on the page.

        I think with the misaligned tan backdrops, it’s supposed to look maybe like a collection of separate newspaper clippings from five different sources? That’s the best I can come up with. And given the content and its origins, it doesn’t make sense to frame this image with that kind of implied setting.

        I love the message; I hate the delivery. :/

  5. GenXCub says:

    Freedom of choice…. is what you got.
    Freedom from choice… is what you want.

    • Mom says:

      Yeah, the free market will take care of all our needs in the best way possible. We just need to get government out of the way so that can happen.

      How’s that working so far?

    • PunditGuy says:

      Then if you got it, you don’t want it.

  6. huadpe says:

    How did JFK come out with a consumer bill of rights in 1964? Wasn’t he killed in Nov. 1963?

  7. balderdashed says:

    The “rights” enumerated here include some ideas that are so vague as to be meaningless, and some other ideas that are simply ill-conceived.

    The “Right to Safety” — to be protected against goods and services that are hazardous to our health, etc? I’m not sure any product is or ever will be 100% safe (particularly those we rely on most — food, cars, appliances, medicines, etc.) Consumers as well as businesses must inevitably make trade-offs between safety, cost, convenience and other factors. The best we can hope for is that companies won’t lie to us and tell us a product is safe when they know of a defect they are covering up — and in that case, if they lie and somebody dies, I’d love to see their CEOs in jail.

    The “Right to be Informed” — against misleading information? Certainly. But I’m not sure there should be a right to “unrestricted access” to every detail regarding a product’s origin, materials, etc. There can be a legitimate need for a company to restrict access to trade secrets or other information that would give a competitor an undeserved advantage. I’m not sure a company should be required to disclose its political activity, either — beyond the requirements that already exist. Actually, I’d like to see all this data public and transparent — I’d like to know the source of any contribution of perhaps $500 or more that benefits any political candidate, directly or indirectly. But I wouldn’t single out corporations for greater scrutiny than other groups. I want to know who’s paying for every campaign ad I hear.

    “The Right to Choose” — to be assured access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices? How’s that supposed to work? Isn’t there something called the marketplace? Yes, I agree there are some industries where competition is lacking (cable and satellite, etc.). But I have no idea what a “fair price” is for anything, and I don’t think the government does either. Government regulation is appropriate to ensure monopolies aren’t able to limit competition even further — the NBC/Comcast deal should have never gone through, and net neutrality only makes sense. But the idea that government or any one else can somehow assure the right to “satisfactory quality and service at fair prices” is naive at best.

    “The Right to Be Heard” — I think we have that, courtesy of the First Amendment. Our elected leaders will likely provide “full and sympathetic consideration” to whoever is likely to show up at the ballot box and vote them in, or out, of office.

    “The Right to Service” – the right to privacy, courtesy, and responsiveness to consumer problems…” Responsiveness to consumer problems is certainly nice, but the idea that it should be a “consumer right” is ridiculous. If a company does customer service well, there’s a good chance it will have lots of customers — consider Apple, arguably #1 in customer service, and its profits continue to skyrocket. But “responsiveness” has a price, and might be one reason (among others) that certain Apple products are more expensive. Maybe I want a basic, comparatively crappy laptop or some other product at the lowest possible price. Then I probably shouldn’t expect a whole lot of “responsiveness-to-my-problems” from the manufacturer. If my budget is low and my expectations are minimal, I should have the right to buy a product that meets my needs. This bogus “Bill of Rights” and its promise of “responsiveness” would tend to restrict that right.

    Unfortunately, it’s ill-conceived proposals like these that feed into the right-wing notion that anybody to the left of Rick Perry must be antibusiness or a socialist. There are clearly better ways to make sure that certain companies, who do have too much power, are reined in and prevented from screwing consumers.

    • Bort says:

      I would assume right to safety means workers aren’t put in life and death situations to save the corporation money, toxic ingredients aren’t used, for example no lead in drinking glasses, no benzene or other carcinogens in the food, and no poisoning of groundwater, land or air that harms or kills people. And reasonable warnings on products.

      Right to be informed means conflict of interests, knowing what you are buying, that its made without slave labour or sweatshops, and without harming or torturing people, animals, or damaging the environment. These are reasonable demands, especially if it means customers are more willing to buy your product, and not duped into buying something that offends the above but is hidden, would you want to buy a sweater that a company forced your mom to make at gunpoint? Imagine this happened but no one told you.

      The right to choose means having competition, not monopolies, preventing gouging. Also when every company who makes a particular widget subscribes to planned obsolescence with a short lifetime, even on a big ticket item (say vacuum or A/C or stove, or washing machine), around here just about every A/C has a one year warranty, they are designed to fail at 13 months, you can spend double or triple buying from a different company, and still, 13 months.

      Right to be heard, you think its all ok already, but how about mandatory arbitration, or just making you jump through hoops knowing most people will eventually give up if they add just one more, or companies suing people over blog posts, websites et al, they have deep pockets, customers don’t, it makes for just a slight power imbalance. Oddly it can be easier to get service by going to the media, then the company is almost publicly shamed and will fix your problem (how many of these stories are there on consumerist?).

      The right to service means I paid you for a product or service, and I want what i paid for, a call center is interested in having short talk times and agents who can’t help you, this creates a barrier to getting what the customer paid for, companies will make promises, break them, then deny making those promises (again, many examples on consumerist).
      Many (maybe most) companies seem to have the mindset I have your money, now you can go to hell, or if your in a contract what we say goes, or i sent you a $1500 cell phone bill, even if the company screwed up the company expects the customer to pay it or else they could ruin their credit rating, send them to collections, and this may even prevent the customer from getting a plan with a competitor for years to come. If you want to sell something as is, no service but lower price anyone is able to say this upfront, for example this netbook is final sale, no returns even if defective, we will not help you if you have a problem with it, if it breaks, needs parts or burns your house down, in return you can buy it for a lower price, which would also be related to the right to be informed.

  8. KFW says:

    A few type-o’s make everything better.

  9. H3ion says:

    “The four original tenants were” Probably tenets. The original tenants were evicted some time ago.

  10. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Good luck with that. How about “#6 Nothing in clauses 1 through 5 gives you the right to sue anyone because you were stupid.”?

  11. tooluser says:

    They forgot the right to get everything for FREE!!!!

  12. DragonThermo says:

    Yet another example of how Liberals have completely misunderstood the concept of “rights”. “Rights” are a shield to protect the individual from Government. However, Liberals think “rights” are a sword to force other people to obey their whims.

    “Rights”, when exercised properly, do not infringe on other peoples’ rights, nor do they infringe on an individual’s possessions, property, or liberty.

    If #1 were enacted, all salty or unhealthy snacks will be outlawed because they are “hazardous to your health”, depending on how you define “hazardous”. Ditto with all processed foods and most restaurants. “Happy Meals” will be come “Soviet People’s Meals”.

    With #2, the box around a tube of toothpaste will have to be the size of a breadbox. Not very space efficient on a store shelf.

    The text of #3 counteracts the title of #3. If prices for products are fixed at a certain level, then there is no choice. As it is, you have the choice between a product produced by slave Chinese labor and a product produced by over-paid fat American union labor. And you have the freedom to choose which you want. If the latter is not available because nobody wants to buy it at that price? You currently have the freedom to start your own company to produce and sell organic union-made products on the free market.

    As for #4, you have that now. Everyone has the Right to Free Speech. What you don’t have is what I think #4 is implying, is to be heard and your demands be enacted to your satisfaction.

    As for #5, I think it should be amended to include that CSRs have the right to be treated with “privacy, courtesy, etc”. And a CSR has the right to discontinue communication of you, the customer, violate their rights. That is, if you yell at or use profanity at a CSR, they should have the right to hang up on you and blacklist you for a period of time until you learn your manners and treat CSRs with courtesy and respect. Then again, #5 would be unnecessary if people were raised right by their parents.