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Consumers have a right to complete information on the price, quality, quantity, ingredients and other conditions under which the goods and services they consume are produced. It is only in this way that consumers are able to participate meaningfully in economic life and to exercise their rights.

Information is power. It is only when we have access to information that we take informed decisions about matters that affect our lives, our communities and indeed our country. But it is not enough merely to have access to information. In order for information to make the desired impact, it must be relevant to our needs. In addition, we must know how to use information in order to make the desired impact.Merely complaining about poor quality goods or services without directing our concerns to the responsible service producer or provider is unlikely to effect change. We must also follow up on the complaints we lodge with service providers. If our complaints or concerns are not addressed, we must raise them with the next in line of seniority or appropriate outside bodies. This is the only way through which to seek redress and encourage accountability among service providers.

This implies that service providers have redress mechanisms within their organisations. Where redress mechanisms do not exist, consumers must demand that they are put in place and observed.

The fact that consumers have access to information about goods and services does not necessarily mean that information is easily made available. Sometimes, even in a democratic society, it is difficult to force service providers to make information available to consumers. When the release of information necessary for the exercise of our rights is made impossible, it is up to us as consumers, to demand that such information is made available.

Generally, consumer rights are connected to one another. One right cannot be viewed in isolation from another or from responsibilities that come with rights. As such, redress is better realised when consumers organise themselves into collectives to press for their rights. For example, service providers who thrive on consumer ignorance or apathy are more likely to listen to a group of unhappy consumers than one individual. Otherwise, the service provider can lose reputation and business if the group decides to buy goods and services elsewhere or boycott the business. Consumer collectives can also negotiate better sale deals with service providers while individuals may find this difficult or need to develop personal relations with service providers, often over long periods of time.

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