Consumer organizations are organizations that seek to protect people from corporate abuse. Unsafe products, predatory lending, false advertising, and pollution are all examples of corporate abuse.
Consumer organizations may operate by campaigning or lobbying; they may be single-issue (for example the British CAMRA, which campaigned with great success against keg beer and for real ale), or set themselves up as consumer watchdogs such as the Consumers' Association in the UK. One common method is the independent comparative survey or test of a particular type of product or service, involving different manufacturers or companies, such as is published in Which?. This may have been more common in the past, when magazines were more reluctant to publish critical reviews.
Another arena where consumer organizations have operated is food safety. The needs for campaigning in this area are less easy to reconcile with their traditional methods, since the scientific, dietary or medical evidence is normally more complex than in the case, say, of electric safety of white goods. The current standards on mandatory labelling, in developed countries, have at least in part been shaped by past lobbying by consumer groups.
The aim of consumer organizations may be to establish and to attempt to enforce consumer rights. Effective work has also been done, however, simply by using the threat of bad publicity to keep companies' focus on the consumers' point of view.
Consumer protection is government regulation to protect the interests of consumers, for example by requiring businesses to disclose detailed information about products, particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food.
Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights (that consumers have various rights as consumers), and to consumer organizations which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace.
Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered an area of public law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell them goods and services.
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