Considerable difference of opinion exists concerning whether or not a business has lived up to its social mandate of providing proper quantities of goods and services at the lowest price compatible with adequate quality. Many consumers feel that business has not lived up to its responsibilities, and the increasing number and size of organized consumer groups stand as testimony to this belief. The result has been the consumer movement or consumerism. So, the Consumer Movement is an effort to promote consumer protection through an organized social movement which is in many places led by consumer organizations.
Reasons for the Consumer Movement:
(a) Unfair use of business power: The basic reason for the growth in the consumer movement is that consumers feel that is an unfair use of business power because the power responsibility relationship is out of balance. Consumer advocates claim that the balance of power lies with sellers and that business has failed to exercise responsibly the massive power it has. They claim that traditional buyer’s rights are not enough to maintain power balance when consumers rarely have full information and when they are subjected to persuasive and sometimes conflicting advertising at every turn.
(b) Dependent on business for product: A key reason for the imbalance of power is that consumers today are more dependent on business for product quality than ever before. Because products are so complex, consumers have no way to judge at the time of purchase whether or not their quality is satisfactory. This was not so in the old ways when a consumer bought a buggy whip or a plow.
(c) Product complexity: A second reason for the imbalance of power also relates to product complexity. Complex products often require special handling or special use which is different from that to which consumers are accustomed. Instructions for use or care of the product are often complex and detailed to the extent that consumers cannot understand or cannot remember instructions.
(d) Packaging: A third reason for the imbalance of power revolves around packaging. Packaging often prevents consumers from adequately inspecting a product before purchase, thus forcing them to rely upon the written description on the package. Consumers often complain that information on the package that information on the package is so technical, complex, or vague that it is impossible for the average person to judge quality.
(e) Combination of several products: Finally many products used routinely by today’s consumer are not single products at all, but rather a combination of several different products assembled to perform a special function. Automobiles are an excellent example, and there are much more such as sewing machines, lawn mowers, household appliances and clothing. Many of the compact parts of such products are invisible to consumers, who therefore cannot inspect them even if they had the technical competence to do so. Thus they must rely totally on products for quality.
While dissatisfaction with product quality and reliability has been a major source of consumer frustration and thus has contributed to the growth of the consumer movement, dissatisfaction which services also has been a major contributing force.