Consumer power

2008-04-25 00:00

A regular columnist in this paper recently pointed out a strange irony. South Africans live in a highly politicised atmosphere, yet there is no tradition of consumer activism. Citizens are largely inert, even uninterested, when it comes to customer rights.

To their credit the trade unions are flexing their collective muscle in relation to price-fixing and are questioning the prices of basic goods. Boycotts proved a potent weapon in the struggle for political freedom and it is surprising that they are not employed in cases of clear economic injustice.

Ultimately, the exercise of consumer rights depends on individual attitude and action. This is another of the obligations that goes with the rights endowed by a democratic society. Every consumer reaction against bad service, shoddy goods, price exploitation or replacement of local goods by imports is a small victory for the community at large. From such protest, larger battles can be won.

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