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CU celebrates World Consumer Rights Day

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Consumers Union Celebrates 50th Anniversary
of President Kennedy’s Call for Consumer Rights

March 15th observed as World Consumer Rights Day

WASHINGTON — Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today is celebrating the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s call for basic consumer protections.

On this day in 1962, the President delivered a special message to Congress that called for four basic consumer rights – the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard. “Consumers, by definition, include us all,” Kennedy told Congress.

Consumers Reports President Jim Guest today is delivering a speech about the impact of Kennedy’s message, the progress that consumers have made in the past 50 years, and the need for today’s consumers to defend their rights during the annual Consumer Assembly held by Consumer Federation of America.

Guest said, “This call for consumer rights was a watershed moment in the consumer movement.  It was a spark that lit a fire under concerned citizens to stand up and get organized.  Exactly fifty years ago, Kennedy laid out a vision for consumers that still resonates today, not only here in the United States, but in countries all over the world.”

This call to action inspired Consumers International, the nonprofit organization of more than 220 consumers groups in 115 countries, to observe March 15th as World Consumer Rights Day, an annual event to promote the basic rights of all consumers.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the need “to give consumers a voice” on World Consumer Rights Day “and every day.”  Blumenthal highlighted the anniversary of President Kennedy’s call for a national commitment to protecting consumer interests. “These rights are the foundation of what we now know as the Consumer Bill of Rights,” the Senator said.

In a letter to Consumer Reports, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Lebowitz said those basic consumer rights outlined fifty years today are “at the very core of our mission.”  Lebowitz wrote: “Our responsibility is to ensure the scales of business are not tipped against consumers.”

David Strickland, the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wrote to Consumer Reports:  “The goals set forth by the President on March 15, 1962 echo the values and commitment here at … NHTSA.  We placed a special emphasis on working with our stakeholders and educating consumers while carrying out our mission of saving lives and reducing injuries on our Nation’s highways.”

Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tannenbaum wrote that today is “an ideal time to remember this call to action and to renew our daily commitment to work on behalf of the consumer.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote about the anniversary and how the FCC works to “empower consumers with the tools and information they need to navigate the rapidly changing communications marketplace.”

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray wrote about the CFPB’s dedication to upholding these consumer principles in its work and “helping consumers better understand the financial marketplace so they can build a better financial future for themselves.”

David Butler, 202-462-6262