Friday, 15 March 2013

Five scandals which prove we need better consumer justice

CI’s Digital Editor Vik Iyer looks back on five scandals which prove the need for improvements in global consumer protection as we mark World Consumers Rights Day 2013.


There’s nothing like the glitz and glamour of an iPhone launch – the consequent media coverage makes you wonder if Apple actually need to advertise. For many loyal consumers though, iPhone 5 had a sting in its tail — Lightning —a new connector which effectively rendered millions of Apple accessories obsolete. As Stephen Russell of Anec, the European standardisation body, argued on our blog last year, the prospect of a universal connector for all mobiles seems a long way off.


Supermarket giant Tesco was among a group of major retailers who discovered horsemeat in beef products on its shelves. In addition to providing a lot of bad jokes on social media, the story has hit consumer confidence hard. Swedish retailer Ikea has become embroiled in a similar scandal whilst other horsemeat contamination examples were found in France, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. The supermarket supply chain once again finds itself in the spotlight, with many wondering if consumers really benefit in a consolidated industry with only a few players.

Coca Cola


The Western media has been largely silent as Coca Cola continues to sell drinks which contain potentially cancer-causing toxins throughout parts of the developing world. Coke agreed to mend its ways in the US, and CI members are continuing the fight to get things changed in other countries, including in Kenya.


The astonishing collapse of banks across the Western world coincided with growing scandals over the misselling of financial products. Banks and governments promise reform but there is still plenty of evidence that not much has changed. The Libor scandal  showed that massive global banks were prepared to rig interest rates and cause yet more consumer detriment. It seems consumer activism in this area will be vital.


Millions of us use social media. But an increasing number are starting to wonder if by using these free services, we’ve made ourselves the product. We’re worried about our privacy too, with recent worldwide issues at Hotmail only underlining how easy our virtual information can be accessed. Consumers who buy digital products are also being hit by questionable practices, such as being prevented from selling unwanted items second hand or being attacked by viruses so that they cannot copy CDs.

Read CI’s State of Consumer Protection survey or check out our infographic.

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