Consumer protection and social accountability

Social accountability SA 8000

SA8000 is a globally recognized standard for social accountability. It is designed to promote ethical and fair treatment of workers across various industries. The standard provides a framework for companies to measure and demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility by ensuring that workers are treated with dignity, respect, and provided with safe working conditions.

SA8000 is based on international labor standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, and other human rights norms. It covers a range of issues related to workers’ rights, including child labor, forced labor, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, and working hours.

To become SA8000 certified, companies must undergo a rigorous auditing process by an independent certification body. This process involves an assessment of the company’s social accountability management system, as well as on-site inspections to ensure that workers are being treated in accordance with the SA8000 standard.

By implementing the SA8000 standard, companies can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and improve their reputation with customers, employees, and other stakeholders. The standard is also a useful tool for companies seeking to comply with local laws and regulations related to labor practices.

In light of the various pressures that the consumer is exposed to economically, media and socially in various countries of the world, the importance of the role of what is called consumer protection comes, in which countries must enact laws and regulations, whether official or popular, in order to enhance the consumer protection process and contribute to obtaining his legitimate rights.

Therefore, international organizations have sought to issue many international legislations to preserve the safety of the consumer by guaranteeing the products and services provided to him. principles of sustainable consumption. This document calls on states to protect the masses of consumers from the dangers facing their health and safety, to promote and protect the economic interests of consumers in freedom of choice, to provide them with appropriate education, to give them the compensation they deserve, and to ensure the freedom to form associations to protect consumers.

Among the global initiatives that focused on developing a general framework for consumer protection by the companies and establishments themselves is the initiative of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which prepared the ISO 26000 standard, which is a specification related to social responsibility that will be adopted as an international standard in October of this year.

This standard singled out a clause on consumer issues as one of the main topics of social responsibility, through which it showed seven important issues through which it urges socially responsible establishments to follow them while dealing with consumers. I am pleased to present them to the honorable reader in a brief manner in this article as follows:

The first issue: fair marketing and providing the consumer with true and unbiased information.

It is about providing details and information about products and services in a manner that the customer can understand, which allows him to make decisions far from media influence regarding his purchases, and allows him to compare the characteristics of different products and services. The unfair marketing process or incomplete or misleading information may cause the purchase of products and services that do not meet the customer’s needs and thus cause waste of money, resources and time, or may harm the customer and the environment. Therefore, the socially responsible organization, when communicating with the consumer, must adhere to the following:

* Not to engage in any misleading and fraudulent media activity towards the consumer, including the process of removing the necessary information for the product.

* To disclose the total price, taxes and the rest of the costs associated with the product or service, and in the case of installments, it should be informed of the actual percentages of the annual increases and the rest of the details of the installments clearly and transparently.

* Do not use text or graphics that affect religion, race, or sexual excitement

* To provide complete, accurate, understandable and comparable information about:

The main quality features of products and services.

The health and safety features of products and services, such as the hazardous materials they contain or secrete.

The address of the establishment and the various activated means of communication through which the consumer can communicate with the establishment easily.

* The contracts between the establishment and the consumer should provide clear and sufficient information about prices and conditions, and not include unfair contractual terms such as exclusion of responsibility and the sole right to change prices and conditions and transfer the risk of insolvency to the consumer.

The second issue: protecting consumer health and safety

It is to provide safe products and services that do not cause any damage when used or misused in a predictable way. Instructions for safe use are an important part of protecting health and safety. Safety also includes anticipating potential risks to prevent them, and includes mechanisms for withdrawing products in the event of damage to the consumer. This matter is very sensitive to the consumer as well as to the establishment itself, whose reputation will be directly affected if any of this happens. Therefore, a corporate social responsibility organization should:

* Providing safe products and services to consumers, their property, and the rest of the community members and the environment around them.

Determining aspects of optimal use and images of expected misuse of the product or service, clarifying the damages arising at all stages, and stating the conditions for using the product or service.

* Staying away from the use of chemicals classified as carcinogenic or toxic, and if this happens, it should be stated clearly and precisely.

Carrying out, whenever possible, assessments about the risks of products and services to human health before introducing new materials or new methods of production, and making documents available to all.

* Provide clear information and use of security codes to consumers, preferably those agreed upon internationally.

* Preparing and adopting the necessary measures to avoid misuse, such as improper storage, as well as the process of withdrawing all products, whether they are still in the distribution chain or purchased by consumers, and using appropriate procedures and appropriate media methods to reach them.

The third issue: sustainable consumption

It is the consumption of products and resources at rates consistent with sustainable development by not harming the environment and depleting resources. A socially responsible establishment achieves this through the following:

* Provide products and services that operate as effectively as possible considering the full product life cycle.

* Eliminate, where possible, or minimize any negative health and environmental impacts of products and services, such as noise and waste.

* Designing products and packaging so that they can be easily reused if possible, or suggesting and providing recycling and disposal services.

* Providing consumers – including those with special needs – with useful information and guidance on environmental and social factors associated with products or services, such as energy use, storage and disposal of products.

The fourth issue: consumer service and support f

Settlement of disputes and complaints

They are mechanisms used to meet consumers’ needs for products and services after purchasing them, such as guarantees, technical support, return provisions, and maintenance. Since products or services that do not provide satisfactory performance to the consumer either due to defects or malfunctions or as a result of misuse may lead to a violation of his rights as well as a waste of money, resources and time, therefore, socially responsible establishments are required to do the following:

* Providing preventive measures to prevent the occurrence of the causes of complaints by offering return options for products within a specified period of time.

* Reviewing complaints and practices in order to improve response to them.

* Providing after-sales services, providing maintenance services at reasonable prices, and providing the necessary spare parts.

* Settle disputes with dissatisfied consumers and take the necessary corrective measures based on national or international standards in a manner, while not forcing consumers to waive their legal rights to seek recourse to court.

Fifth issue: consumer data protection and privacy

It is intended to protect the rights of consumers and increase their confidence about the types of information that is collected and secured about them as CRM information and to prevent its misuse. Socially responsible establishments are advised to do the following:

* Obtaining consumer information through legitimate and fair means and informing them and obtaining their consent, specifying the purposes for which personal information is collected.

* Non-disclosure of personal information and financial transactions of consumers, preventing its leakage and making it available for others to see.

* Providing the necessary assurances to consumers about the nature of their information related to them, the aspects of use and their role in preserving it, while removing it completely and with all credibility when the consumer requests that.

Sixth issue: access to basic services

Although states are responsible for ensuring the right to meet basic needs, there are many services or conditions that may not be guaranteed directly, such as electricity, water, and telephone, and the direct role is on the facilities that provide those services. Therefore, distinguished establishments with social responsibility do the following:

Not to cut off basic services to consumers as a result of non-payment without providing the opportunity to pay within an appropriate period of time.

* Determining the appropriate fees with full transparency, credibility and without misleading, with the importance of offering special discounts for the needy and the poor.

* Not resorting to collective penalties by cutting off services to all consumers in the event that some of them fail to pay the due bills.

* Direct and real compensation in the event of interruption of services for technical reasons, and to continue to update its systems to prevent any interruption.

The seventh issue: education and awareness

This is to enable consumers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities, and to play an active role in purchasing and consumption decisions, including consumers with low awareness who do not know how to read and write, or those with special needs. The aim of consumer awareness and education is not only to impart knowledge, but also to provide appropriate practice in working on this knowledge. They also aim to raise awareness about the impact of consumption choices on others and on sustainable development, bearing in mind that education does not absolve the enterprise of its responsibility if the consumer is harmed when using products and services.

In conclusion, dear reader, we all agree on the importance of laws and legislation sponsored by governments and implemented in cooperation with establishments to play a major role in protecting the consumer and giving him his rights. However, the most important thing is for the consumer to move himself and benefit from these laws to protect himself and his family. And the first step in this regard is to know what his rights as a consumer? Then he transforms this knowledge into a practical approach that is characterized by a mature consumption culture without being affected by any crafty media propaganda, or charming foreign cultures, with the importance of his positive interaction with the rest of society in accepting the beneficial and paying the harmful for his religion and his world.


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