What is a market? A market is where buyers and sellers come together to engage in business. Sellers seek money from sales, consumers wish to buy something they want or need. The situation suits both parties, as long as they both gain from the exchange.
Buyers want to buy products at the best price possible. However, in order to stay in business, retailers must ensure that they make a profit by selling products at a price which covers all costs and provides a profit for risk taking and future development. Costs include the price at which the product was purchased, staff costs, store operation costs, delivery and other overheads. Buyers have a right to expect that the goods are safe, properly described, priced correctly and will continue to work for a reasonable period of time.
Who is a consumer? A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.
Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency.
Consumer protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace. The laws are designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors. They may also provide additional protection for those most vulnerable in society. Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation, which aim to protect the rights of consumers. For example, a government may require 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, and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.
Various countries have agencies created by an act of law to protect the consumers.
The consumers protection body set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria by law is the Nigerians’s Consumers Protection Council and the head of this body is Mrs Dupe Atoki.
In order to control the market, the government has introduced a number of laws giving customers rights about the quality of the goods they buy. It has created criminal offences if sellers mis-describe, charge the wrong price or sell unsafe products. It is therefore important that customers know their rights and feel free to make necessary complaints to the right body if any of these rights is violated.