Consumer confidence is one of the most important elements of success that drives a thriving economy and keeps our nation growing. When making purchases of any kind, this confidence provides security and comfort about the quality, use and safety of those purchases. If there is a failure, there also must be a solution that offers justice to the harmed consumer.
Certain government agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, oversee commercial trade to ensure that standards of excellence are met and that products will be safe, reliable and of value to consumers. Consumers may take extra steps prior to purchasing to investigate the reputation, safety record and reliability of certain products. This is often the case when they are making an investment type of purchase, such as buying a car, house or taking out a loan.
Trust & Truth
Most people understand that advertising and product claims are put forth to encourage a purchase. What is less known is if those statements are, in fact, true and reliable. Consumers need to be told true facts about the products they buy, which is why the government has established consumer watchdog agencies to help regulate truth in advertising. An additional reason why this is important is that product purchases involve a financial investment. When someone buys a vehicle, home or invests in a stock or other asset, they want that investment to be sound and not a scam.
Keeping the public safe from defective products, unfair business practices and other harm is a role taken primarily by the government in the United States. Manufacturers also desire to maintain a positive reputation for production of safe, reliable products that the public can use with confidence. The Federal Trade Commission was first created in 1914 to stop unfair competition in commerce. The FTC later was authorized to do more, including administration of new consumer protection laws. Over time, new laws have addressed new problems, including telemarketing scams, fair credit and debt collection practices, and digital marketing issues.
For the past 40 years, the Consumer Protection Branch of the FTC has served the public by protecting their health, safety and economic interests. They handle cases that involve pharmaceuticals, medical devices, fraud, product safety, deceptive trade practices and other areas of concern to consumers. These agencies also provide consumer education information about the areas of protection they offer and current issues of concern to consumers. In addition to governmental agencies, there are watchdogs in the industries and in the public realm that also work to provide consumer protection.
A major concern of all consumers is the safety of the products they purchase and use. Vehicle safety is a top priority, and there prompt recalls are issued when problems arise. Recent defective products that have caused injury and death to vehicle users include tires, brakes and airbags that do not function properly. Safety is a necessary attribute for many products, from vehicles to construction equipment, pharmaceuticals and household products. The goal here is to prevent personal injury and deaths due to negligent behavior by product designers, manufacturers, sellers, installers and repair shops.
Over 70 million vehicles have now been recalled worldwide due to airbag failures, with a majority in the U.S. The primary maker of defective airbags is a Japanese company, Takata. In January 2017, the company pleaded guilty to deceptive corporate actions of hiding the airbag problems that they knew about in 2004. Public knowledge and recalls have been issued for defective Takata airbags since 2008, but so far, only about 13 million airbags have been replaced.
Airbag failures have resulted in severe injury to vehicle drivers and passengers. Burns and cuts to the face, arms and torso are common when an airbag inflates with such force that the inflator device shatters and sends shards of metal into the vehicle compartment. Death has been the result for at least 16 persons, and about 180 people have received severe injuries from exploding airbags.
Tire and brake failures caused roll-over accidents and crashes that resulted in injury and death for some people. These products have been issued recalls and received widespread publicity, which allows consumers to act and get parts replaced to avoid potential disaster. Safety is an issue that applies to all products; consumers want to have confidence that whatever they purchase is safe to use, and that it will perform reliably and as promised by any guarantee or warranty.
Consumer protection provides the additional benefit of ensuring that products are valuable because they are safe and function as promised. No one wants to invest their hard-earned money in a product that will fail because it is defective and would cause injury or death. Strict regulations and enforcement by the consumer watchdogs in government and private industry help consumers obtain products that are valuable and worthy of investment. This is also an important aspect of investment decisions, such as purchases of real estate, or obtaining loans or credit accounts.
When people work with a business on financial deals, they want to be protected against unfair or fraudulent business practices. The Federal Trade Commission provides strong help in this area of concern. They collect complaints, conduct investigations, sue offending companies and people who break the law, and they develop rules for fairness in the marketplace. Another benefit provided to consumers by this agency is education for both consumers and businesses, informing each of their rights and responsibilities. These efforts help consumers get the fairness they want to find in the marketplace.
When things go wrong in a deal, or with a product, consumers expect results from their complaints. The FTC accepts complaints and does investigate those thoroughly. If there is wrongdoing, they will pursue justice through the legal system. If needed, they also will create new rules to stop wrongdoing. Consumers can get results, but they also must act first when there are problems with products or business services.
If you have complaints about a product or service, or you have been harmed or a loved one died due to defective products, it is essential to seek help from an experienced Personal Injury Attorney right away. There may be time limits involved, and you want to get results.