Congratulations to our consumer law scholarship winners! We offered two scholarships for students to answer this question: “Why are consumer laws important for society?” Our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of consumer laws, and how they help people.
Jillian Neuman, a freshman nursing student at Ohio University, won the first place prize of $1,000! Julia Hilty, a LLM student at Vermont Law School, won the second place prize for $250! We are very excited for both of them and wish them well in their studies.
Here are the winning essays:
Why Consumer Laws Are Important for Society
by Jillian Neuman
Consumer laws are here to advance the overall safety and ethical standards of society. When a consumer buys a product, they want to be reassured that they are getting their money’s worth. But, they also want to know that what they are buying is safe, and expect to be notified or reimbursed if the producer fails to meet those standards. With the pressure to make money in today’s society, it’s inevitable that certain companies will try and take the easy way out, meaning producing their product in the quickest, cheapest way, even if that means certain laws or ethics are broken. Consumer laws are designed to discourage this type of conduct. For example, consumer laws can force a company to take dangerous products off the shelf, such as a toy containing led which could potentially harm the health of a child if exposed. Consumer laws also help educate consumers regarding minimum standards products are to meet. By educating consumers they help society protect against poor-quality or dangerous products so that society can police against companies looking to short change or even harm consumers.
Consumer laws also help hold the company or producer accountable for taking advantage of the consumers. If a company or person violates the consumer laws then these laws provide consumers with avenues of redress to be compensated for the damages they suffer. By potentially punishing the violating company/person, consumer laws also encourage compliance by companies and people selling goods and services to the public. This helps promote safety and ethics in our society.
Lastly, these laws provide the right for the consumer to choose freely the good or service they desire. After all that’s the whole basis of our free market and economy, for the people to be able to choose, act and spend their money freely without the fear of consequences. Therefore, these consumer protection laws are vital for the basis and foundation of the consumers and market to be protected. I mean after all isn’t that one of the many things humans crave, to be protected and reassured. It’s human nature. Therefore these laws are not only fulfilling for the free market, but for human nature as well. Therefore we should be more grateful and educated about these laws, because without them who knows how our market would be today.
Why Consumer Laws Are Important for Society
by Julia Hilty
The common law provides little redress for consumers harmed by business practices and so it also exercises little preventive incentive for businesses to abstain from those practices. Consumer protection laws fill this void. Consumer protection laws serve the important societal function of attempting to balance the power between consumers and businesses by setting forth and prohibiting business practices which are unfair, abusive, or deceptive. Moreover, consumer protection laws also provide consumers with a means to protect themselves from certain business practices or failures.
Consumer protection laws at both the state and federal level give substance to the idea that consumers possess certain basic rights among them are the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard.  The Credit Freeze Act provides consumers with a means to protect their identity and financial records in response to businesses’ failure to safeguard consumers’ sensitive personal data.  The Lemon Law provides protections to consumers in their purchases of new motor vehicles. The Credit Card Recording Act protects consumers’ personal financial information, social security numbers, and credit card numbers from disclosure by businesses. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prevents businesses from engaging in threatening or harassing behavior when attempting to secure payment for a debt.
These laws and many others demonstrate the protections that are needed by consumers and illuminate the actual practices that resulted in these laws being enacted. Consumer protection laws are enacted in response to business practices that are unfair, deceptive, or unsafe. These laws are created to address actual practices that businesses use in dealing with consumers. These laws set the boundary lines of practices that businesses can use in the pursuit of money and provide guidance to temper the temptation to increase profit through the use of unfair or deceptive means. Consumer protection laws fill an important societal role by addressing unfair and deceptive business practices and providing consumers with a means of redress that consumers do not have at common law.
President John F. Kennedy, Special Message to Congress on Protecting Consumer Interest, March 15, 1962, retrieved from https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-037-028.aspx
 Ohio Attorney General, Laws Protecting Consumers, http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/ConsumerLaws#Credit_Freeze_Act
 15 U.S.C. §1692