Consumer rights organisations from around the world have criticised Samsung for its inconsistent approach during the Galaxy Note7 recall and have outlined measures of what it need to do to restore consumer trust.

The organisations, co-ordinated by Consumers International, have stated that Samsung must identify what went wrong in the product testing process, and the results must be subject to independent scrutiny, as well as publically announced. It must have a consistent refund and exchange policy for all consumers that meets the highest standards, regardless of where the phone was bought or where the consumer lives.

While Samsung have committed to refund and exchange in all markets, there is inconsistency in where you can access these options and what you can get in return.

The consumer organisations felt intervention was needed following failures of the recall process and the inconsistent management of the product recall so far.

In some countries customers were offered a temporary phone while waiting for their replacement as well as the ability to exchange handsets for a full cash refund in a number of locations, not just in store. However these measures weren’t consistently applied across all markets. The opportunity for customers to check whether their phone was affected by inputting their IMEI number into an online database was a useful tool but was only available to Samsung’s customers in some countries.

In areas which hadn’t had an official launch of the Galaxy Note7, Samsung offered even fewer options and less information. Despite the possibility of people in these countries obtaining the new Galaxy Note7 from other countries or travelling with it, Samsung did not warn consumers in these countries of the issues the phones were having.

In Latin America, it did announce the problem in Mexico, but not in Brazil and Argentina. In Africa, in key markets such as South Africa and Nigeria Samsung did not release any consumer warnings on its websites.

Based on this evidence, the organisations are demanding a clear, global plan of action by Samsung. One that offers all owners of affected phones the same treatment including refunds and the chance to replace their handsets. One that also addresses clear consumer concerns such as transparency around the cause of the problems as well as outlining an environmental plan for managing waste from the phones.

Without this, the consumer organisations claim, Samsung will struggle to regain consumer trust or to be able to move on from this issue.

Amanda Long, Director General, Consumers International, said: “Samsung is a global company. Its handsets are just as likely to malfunction in Sydney as Seoul, so why should the way Samsung treats its customers in these places be any different. Instead of reacting to the situation as and when, country-by-country, Samsung needs a global, consistent and transparent process to deal with the crisis. Only with that in place can it start to rebuild the consumer trust which it has so badly undermined.”

Open letter to Samsung here.

The undersigned

Consumers International, Global

Consumers Union, USA

Hong Kong Consumer Council

Consumer NZ, New Zealand

Choice, Australia

Test-Achats, Belgium

Altroconsumo, Italy

Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios, Spain

Deco Proteste, Portugal

Asociación Peruana de Consumidores y Usuarios, Perú

Consumidores y Usuarios Asociados, Uruguay

Proconsumer, Argentina

Consumidores Argentinos, Argentina

La Union de Usuarios y Consumidores, Argentina


ODECU, Chile

Vía Orgánica, México

Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco, México

Movimiento Iniciativa de los Consumidores, Venezuela

Guyana Consumers Association, Guyana

Yemen Association for Consumer Protection (YACP), Yemen

The National Consumers League of Jamaica, Jamaica

Sudanese Consumers Protection Society, Sudan

Proteste, Brazil 

CDC, El Salvador

Notes for Editors

  • Consumers International (CI), working together with our over 200 Members in 120 countries, is the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers.

    Together we ensure consumers are treated safely, fairly and honestly.


We strive to put them at the heart of the practices of global corporations and influence international bodies such as the UN, OECD and G20 to act in their interest.

Yesterday, on the 10th October, two U.S. Carriers T-Mobile and AT&T decided to stop giving customers replacements of the Galaxy Note7, as well as cease all sales of the latest model in the Samsung Note series.

This could be in response to reports of replacement models of the phone also exploding, as well as the announcement that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) were investigating five cases where replacement phones are alleged to have the same dangerous fault that prompted the recall and replacement.

On 11th October, today, Samsung have put out a statement globally saying that they will,
"ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note7 while the investigation is taking place."

Consumers International spoke with a Samsung spokesperson this morning, who told CI that they have currently ceased production, exchanges and replacements of phones had also been stopped.

When asked about whether recalled phones were being refitted with new batteries, then had been given to customers or are planned to be given to customers, they were unable to comment as they did not know.

More information on how CI will respond to this, to come.

For information on the events and Samsung's position prior to today's statement, please see below.


On 28th September

Consumers International contacted Samsung to get further information from them, a spokesperson said:
“Our number one priority is the safety of our customers. We have worked around the clock with our supplier partners to ensure the highest quality manufacturing and quality assurance processes are in place and are fully confident that the battery cell issue is not present in our new Note7 devices.”

We asked Samsung whether they were aware of reports in India of the model Note2 catching fire on a flight during a landing at Chennai airport, which has prompted the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue an advisory to airlines, asking them to caution passengers to avoid using all models within the Samsung Note series on board aircraft.
They released this response:
"It appears that external factors contributed to this incident. This is not related to the Galaxy Note7. We have reached out to Delta to investigate as the cause is yet to be determined."

In addition we asked Samsung whether they were compensating customers that have suffered injuries as result of the product’s malfunction.
Samsung released this response:
“Samsung takes every incident report from our valued customers very seriously. In response to reported cases of the Galaxy Note7, we are conducting thorough investigations and are treating each case individually.”

27th September

For our news piece on Samsung for this date, please see here.

The CEO of UK household goods company Reckitt Benckiser (RB Group), Rakesh Kapoor, has issued a public apology to the victims of the humidifier disinfectant scandal in South Korea. The apology came 5 years after it was discovered that Oxy RB, a subsidiary of RB Group, misled consumers by selling products containing toxic chemicals – an act of misconduct which is now known to have led to over 100 deaths. 

The apology was delivered to a special parliamentary delegation, including victims of the tragedy and members of the South Korean National Assembly. Although campaigners welcomed the apology they are still calling on the company to do more to uncover the truth behind the scandal and provide better compensation to victims and their families.

Campaigners, including  Miran Mun - Vice President of CI Member Consumers Korea, met at Consumers International on 22nd September 2016 to discuss raising awareness of the issue amongst our Members and the global consumer movement.

The Oxy RB humidifier scandal: 17 years in the making

Oxy RB have long been a well established name in the South Korean household goods market. They first began selling humidifier disinfectant products to Korean consumers in 1994. Since their arrival, Oxy RB have emerged as a market leader and sold over 4 million bottles of disinfectant between 2001 and 2011.

Due to the dryer winters in South Korea, humidifiers are widely used in hospitals and maternity clinics to increase patient comfort and assist with breathing. Disinfectant chemicals are applied to the humidifiers to ensure that the water vapour released into the atmosphere is clean and sterile.

Despite the disinfectants being sold as a 'health' product, they contained toxic chemicals including PHMG, a chemical known to be unsafe for human inhalation which can lead to irreparable lung damage and even death.

Although many cases of inflammation of lung tissues in pregnant mothers and children were reported throughout the early 2000s, it was not until 2011 that research by the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed a causal link between the humidifier disinfectants & lung injuries. Since 2011, over 4,000 Korean's have reported health issues linked to the humidifiers, with around 260 reported deaths.

Campaigners claim that Oxy RB frustrated the following investigation by concealing the results of tests, including deleting data and details of the findings.

Irresponsible marketing misled consumers

According to campaigners and government officials, Oxy RB's labelling of the products it sold to consumers contributed to the widespread misuse of the products. Many of the disinfectant bottles displayed messaging on the outer packaging: 'Safe for the human body, and  even 99.9% safe to use for children'. In addition, the bottles sold after 2006 did not provide the measuring cap, which was previously used to guide consumers on the amount of disinfectant required for each humidifier.

The right to be safe and to be informed are two consumer rights that are of essential importance to the global campaign work conducted by CI and its Members. It is clear that both of these rights were undermined by the irresponsible practices of RB Group in South Korea.  

In July 2016, a special investigation taskforce was established by the South Korean National Assembly. The taskforce set out with 3 main objectives; uncovering the truth, claiming compensation for the victims and preventing repeat occurrences of such tragedies.

The taskforce’s work has run alongside concerted pressure from consumers organisations in Korea, including Consumers Korea, and a network of NGOs that have organised boycotts, public protests and called for product recalls. So far campaign successes have included the arrest and indictment of former the Oxy RB CEO, and the arrest of a University Professor who allegedly manipulated a study of the toxic components in the disinfectant.

While this week's public apology from the RB Group is significant step towards justice, the taskforce and consumer coalition will seek to continue its work in ensuring full compensation for all of the victims' families and the active participation of the company in revealing the truth behind what happened.

The need for global awareness

At Consumers International, we strive to work collectively with our Members to achieve positive outcomes for consumers across the globe. Although the immediate impacts of the Reckitt Benckiser humidifier scandal were experienced in South Korea, it is important to acknowledge that this tragedy could have taken place anywhere. Reckitt Benckiser is a multi-national company that sells its products to consumers in nearly 200 countries worldwide.

As a collective body of consumer organisations, we must work together to ensure that we continue to raise awareness of consumer grievances such as the tragic case of the Oxy RB victims. It is only by sharing our experiences that we can hope to hold multi-national companies to account and prevent such tragedies from repeating themselves.


In August 2016 Samsung launched Galaxy Note7, within days there were reports of the phones exploding. Within a couple of weeks, Samsung had issued a recall of the phone. This is affecting millions of consumers worldwide, and how Samsung is trying to resolve it differs dependent on where in the world you are. We have outlined the situation as we know it below and the global differences in the response from Samsung. 

Samsung Galaxy Note7 product malfunction: Where and how are consumers being affected?

Samsung shipped 2.5 million units of Galaxy Note7, to retailers in several markets, with 1 million of those units reaching consumers, before announcing a recall of all of the 2.5 million units due to an error in production. The production error allegedly resulted in pressure being placed on the plates contained within the battery cells, putting the negative and positive poles into contact, causing excessive heat and products catching fire.

According to Bloomberg, Samsung have said to regulators “the phone’s battery was slightly too big for its compartment and the tight space pinched the battery”.
In the UK, USA, Australia and South Korea, there have been reports of more than 100 incidents, serious damage sustained to property, as well as harm to individuals.

A consumer’s Jeep caught fire and was utterly destroyed in St Petersburg, USA, and over $A1800 Australian Dollars’ worth of damage was caused to a hotel room in Perth, Australia. The consumer in Australia had lodged an application with Samsung when the recall was officially announced, and the incident happened three days later. Whilst a six year old in New York City was rushed to hospital with burns as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 “exploded in his hands”, and a California man suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his leg, finger and thumb, when his phone exploded in his pocket.

So far news coverage suggests that Samsung has covered the bill for the hotel room and that they have yet to pay to replace the Jeep. There has been no concrete reporting of whether compensation has been given for injuries that have occurred, though the man who sustained severe burns has been reported as saying he will sue Samsung.

What are Samsung doing to inform affected consumers?

Samsung has set up an exchange programme where affected customers can swap their Galaxy Note7’s, for another phone.

What the replacement will be depends on which country you are in, with some customers being offered a new Galaxy Note7 with a new battery, other customers being offered older models of the phone, such as the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, and in some cases customers are offered temporary phones for free while they wait for a new Galaxy Note7 with a new battery.

The exchange programme won’t be complete for another couple of weeks, with safe replacement products being rolled out to different countries from 19th September 2016 onwards. So we must be vigilant in ensuring that all consumers affected have been treated fairly and effectively.

Read how Samsung is responding where there have been incidents of damage and injury reported

What about consumers in countries where it hasn’t been released or where incidents haven’t been reported?

Across Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific, Samsung are inconsistent in warning consumers.

In Latin America where the product has yet to be launched, some countries have been warned about the faulty phones, like Mexico, but other countries, such as Paraguay, weren’t.

In African markets they only chosen to warn consumers in Egypt and Libya that there has been a product recall and that they might be affected.

In Asia Pacific they have warned customers to differing degrees in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Macau, but haven’t warned customers in Japan or Thailand and many other countries in the region.

Samsung could argue the reason they have not informed some consumer audiences is because they have yet to launch products in these places, but as they indicate in their own communications to Egyptian, Libyan and Australian audiences, they are a global company offering a product that can be bought and consumed anywhere in the world.

There is an inconsistency in how they communicate what is happening with consumers not only globally, but also within regions.

Are Samsung being consistent and responsible?

It is clear from Samsung’s varied approach to the recall and exchange programme that different levels of customer service are available to different markets. The opportunity for customers to check whether their phone is affected by inputting their IMEI number into a database is a useful tool but is not available to all of Samsung’s customers, with some audiences completely unaware that there has been a fault in the initial product launch which may affect their decision to purchase the product.

If you have any more information on this issue please conatct fbrookes@consint.org 


Imagine a world where individuals are as powerful as the governments and corporations they interact with. A global marketplace where consumers have the power to challenge unfair, unsafe and unethical corporate practice - and win.

To achieve this we need to think big. We need to act global.



The new Consumers International (CI) strategy will do just that. In an increasingly globalised and digitised world, we will increase the collective power and influence of CI and its Members internationally to achieve more positive impact for consumers across the globe. 


We envisage partnering with our membership to deliver co-ordinated, targeted, multi-national campaigns and advocacy which make a major impact in advancing consumer rights and empowerment across the world.  We will do this in the global marketplace and through international policy-making forums.


Harnessing the direction and vision of the CI Council and Director General, and following extensive feedback from the CI membership, we have developed a strategy to deliver a new level of success for CI Members and consumers.


We cannot do this alone. Our greatest strength is the depth and breadth of our membership. Their energy, insight, expertise and unrivalled potential to mobilise consumers is the backbone of what we can deliver together.


This is why a focus on greater alignment and partnership with our Members across the globe is core to our strategy. Together, we will achieve major change through influential, evidence-based advocacy and impactful, targeted, multi-national campaigns that solve the problems consumers experience in a global marketplace. We will do this by forcing changes in supplier practices and winning better deals for consumers.  


This will deliver more value for our membership too. Whether small, medium or large, Members across the world will gain through CI and the global movement achieving a new level of impact for consumers and greater recognition for our work on the international stage. We want to dramatically increase the opportunity for Members and Supporters to work together and learn from each other.


We will innovate to empower our membership, and the consumers they serve. Making full use of the opportunities brought forward by the digital age, we will create a collaborative online platform for the global consumer movement which will support new forms of consumer empowerment and Member benefits.


Such digital innovation will allow the global movement, alongside consumers themselves, to speak with one voice on the global stage – tackling injustices in the global marketplace with the weight of numbers needed to make multi-national businesses take notice.


The platform we seek to create will also be a space for our Members and Supporters to share knowledge, best practice and assets; to access and contribute to research; and develop campaign materials and digital empowerment tools. It will be a platform open and accessible to every size and type of CI Member, offering a range of ways to get involved.


Our CI Member Survey 2014, which has informed the development of our new vision, clearly demonstrated that our membership want CI to further align its priorities with their own; to collaborate more closely and deliver real impact on common issues. Our membership want us to innovate in the digital space, build recognition for CI and the global movement and advance evidence-based marketplace-focused campaigns. Our new strategy will do exactly that.


The vision for the future is all about harnessing the power and wisdom of the global consumer movement, and through our membership, engaging consumers too. Our vision is about unlocking consumer power on an international scale, and positioning consumer groups with a new sense of relevancy and immediacy in people’s everyday lives.


The challenge is one of collaboration.  Now, let’s work together to truly make consumer rights the most powerful agent for change in the world.



AL & Senecon handshakeThe 20th Consumers International World Congress will be held in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil in late October/early November 2015. The agreement to co-host the event with Brazil’s national secretariat for consumers, SENACON, was signed between the two organisations during the CI Council summit held in Brasilia last week.

Amanda Long (on the right), CI Director General says "We are absolutely delighted to be heading to Brazil for CI World Congress next year. Brazil is a vibrant nation in a fantastic position in various aspects of development.  The focus that it shows in driving social participation in developing consumer protection is exciting."

Juliana Pereira da Silva, Secretary of SENACON, says "Being the host of Consumers International World Congress is like being an Olympic host. We feel extremely honoured to know that Brazil has become a reference on the international scene as a country that works for consumer rights."

The CI World Congress is held every four years and marks a seminal moment in the international consumer rights calendar. The event is a platform for CI’s diverse Members to shape the future agenda of global consumer action and inspire multi-national campaigning.

Alongside the formal business of electing a new Council and President, the core aims of the World Congress are for delegates to build cross-border partnerships on consumer rights issues; network with CI Members, government agencies and other stakeholders; and hear from world-renowned speakers on major consumer concerns and emerging trends.

The CI World Congress brings together CI Members and Supporters from all around the globe and attracts leaders from the corporate sector, policy-makers, funding bodies, academics and civil society groups.

Other nations to co-host CI World Congress in recent years have included Hong Kong (2011), Australia (2007) and Portugal (2004). The 2015 Congress will be the twentieth event in CI’s 54 year history.

Details of the theme and precise dates to follow shortly.

Over 330 international experts and civil society groups are calling for a binding treaty to tackle poor diets, in a signed open letter, co-authored by Consumers International. 

See this content in Spanish


The letter has been sent to the heads of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), ahead of the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) which will take place in Rome this week. 

CI, alongside the World Obesity Federation and other leading health campaigners and consumer advocates are urging governments to take greater action to address diet-related ill health, using a Global Convention to protect and promote healthy diets. 

CI and World Obesity have drafted recommendations for a Global Convention advising world governments to: 

  • Reduce children's exposure to marketing through regulatory action;
  • Impose compositional limits on the saturated fat, added sugar and sodium content of food;
  • Bring in fiscal measures to discourage the consumption of unhealthy foods; 
  • Require all trade and investment policies to be addressed for their potential health impacts.

Amanda Long, Consumer International’s Director General said: “Diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are increasing in all regions of the world, most rapidly in developing countries.

“The policy actions that governments can take now will determine whether we can turn on tide on this health crisis. A binding Global Convention offers the best hope of protecting and promoting the health of all consumers.” 

Tim Lobstein, Policy Director for the World Obesity Federation adds: “The rapid expansion of the marketing of highly processed foods is undermining health in much of the developing world.

“Regulatory action to control food markets will require political courage. We should start with a Global Convention which can help Member States, particularly smaller nations, to build a robust defence of public health.”

The letter is co-authored by CI, the World Obesity Federation, the UK Health Forum and consumer groups in Fiji and Mexico, with support of over 320 individuals and organisations. 

CI’s recommendations for a Global Convention to protect and promote healthy diets uses a similar mechanism to the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, which has already proved successful in reducing tobacco use. 

Consumers International has launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #JunkFoodWorldCup to draw attention to the way the football World Cup is being used to market unhealthy food. The campaign is part of CI’s call for more global action to tackle unhealthy diets.


CI is asking people to collect examples of adverts in which pictures of footballers and other images relating to the World Cup are used to advertise food and beverage products that are high in fat, salt or sugar. These examples will then be published on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #JunkFoodWorldCup.

"If children see their favourite footballer advertising crisps or a highly sugared beverage, they will associate that product with sport and with being fit and healthy."

Occasions such as the World Cup can significantly boost sales for the food industry. There could be as much as US$2.3bn spent on World Cup TV advertising globally, according to tentative estimates by media buying agency network Group M. Food and drink companies will account for a lot of this spending. 

There is also expected to be a huge drive to use social media. Twitter has already reported more tweets about the 2014 World Cup before it has started than there were during the whole of the 2010 World Cup. 

Advertisers will be keen to link TV adverts with online activities. Sales of products with advertising linked to the World Cup are likely to see a huge spike. According to the market research firm Nielsen in the first week of the 2010 World Cup, sales of crisps and chocolate rose by 10% and 37% respectively compared with the same week the previous year.

The aim of CI’s campaign is to highlight how the food industry uses international sporting occasions to sell unhealthy food. CI Food programme manager Anna Glayzer said, ”Using footballers and images relating to football to advertise foods high in salt, sugar or fat gives the false impression that these products are healthy".

"The impact that this has on children is particularly worrying as they are more susceptible to advertising messages and imagery.  If children see their favourite footballer advertising crisps or a highly sugared beverage, they will associate that product with sport and with being fit and healthy".

Last month CI published Recommendations towards a Global Convention to Protect and Promote Healthy Diets. 

In it, CI calls for governments to introduce legislation that controls the marketing of unhealthy foods to children by restricting advertising that is likely to create an erroneous impression about a product’s health benefits and other characteristics. 

CI also advocates the prohibition or restriction of the sponsorship of international events by companies and brands associated with unhealthy foods and beverages.

Consumers International and World Obesity Federation are calling on the international community to develop a global convention to fight diet-related ill health, similar to the legal framework for tobacco control.

global obesity report cover

Unhealthy diets now rank above tobacco as a global cause of preventable non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The two international membership bodies will officially launch their Recommendations towards a Global Convention to protect and promote healthy diets (pdf) at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The Recommendations call on governments to make a binding commitment to introduce a raft of policy measures designed to help consumers make healthier choices and improve nutrition security for everyone.

Measures include placing stricter controls on food marketing, improving the provision of nutrition information, requiring reformulation of unhealthy food products, raising standards for food provided in public institutions and using economic tools to influence consumption patterns.

Publication of the Recommendations comes on the 10th anniversary of the WHO Global Strategy on Diet and Physical Activity and Health, which recognised the impact of unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

Since then however, global deaths attributable to obesity and overweight have risen from 2.6 million in 2005 to 3.4 million in 2010, thus intensifying the pressure on governments to take stronger action to tackle the rising epidemic of obesity and consequent chronic disease.

Consumers International Director General, Amanda Long says: "The scale of the impact of unhealthy food on consumer health is comparable to the impact of cigarettes. The food and beverage industry has dragged its feet on meaningful change and governments have felt unable or unwilling to act.

"The only answer remaining for the global community is a framework convention and we urge governments to seriously consider our recommendations for achieving that. If they do not, we risk decades of obstruction from industry and a repeat of the catastrophic global health crisis caused by smoking."

World Obesity Federation Director of Policy, Dr Tim Lobstein says: "The global prevalence of obesity - defined as a BMI ≥30 - doubled between 1980 and 2008, to 10% of all men worldwide, and 14% of all women.

"That’s 205 million men and 297 million women - more than half a billion obese people. In terms of numbers, the United States has led the way, but they are closely followed by China, Brazil and Mexico.

"These figures show the scale of the problem to be addressed. If obesity was an infectious disease we would have seen billions of dollars being invested in bringing it under control.

"But because obesity is largely caused by the overconsumption of fatty and sugary foods, we have seen policy-makers unwilling to take on the corporate interests who promote these foods. Governments need to take collective action and a framework convention offers them the chance to do this."

Obesity is a major risk factor for a wide range of non-communicable diseases. Figures show that in 2008, 36 million people died from non-communicable diseases, representing 63 per cent of the 57 million global deaths that year. In 2030, such diseases are projected to claim the lives of 52 million people.

Several organisations are endorsing these recommendations. These are:




demi greene TH

It is with great sadness that Consumers International received the news that Deni Greene passed away on 2 June 2012. Deni was a great consumer advocate, with strong character and a wry sense of humour.

Deni represented the Consumers Federation of Australia over many years, principally on environmental standards. However it was during the development of ISO 26000 that many Consumer International members came to know her in her roles both as project editor and Australian consumer expert. Deni was a vital and committed consumer advocate who was passionate about her work. ISO 26000 was published in November 2010.

The consumer world will miss her very much for her knowledge and experience, but also as a friend.

An obituary can be found on CFA'S website.

An online guest book has also been set up. This is an opportunity to share remembrances and condolences with her family and others outside of standards development.

Friends and colleagues of Deni are establishing an award in her honour and are seeking contributions to the fund to support the award. More details are on Consumers Federation of Australia's website.



If Nepal wants to bolster its nascent consumer movement, it needs to get more information into circulation through consumer education and awareness programmes and set up clear and effective systems for redress to boost consumer confidence.

These were the main findings of Consumers International's (CI) recently-concluded programme of work in the country.

As part of the programme, a national policy conference was held in Kathmandu to look at the country's existing consumer protection infrastructure and make recommendations for its improvement.

The overriding themes for improvement which came out of the conference were: information creation and dissemination, establishment of consumer courts and enforcement of clear protection laws.

The conference concluded that a strong consumer protection policy should be created and then disseminated via a national information system to raise awareness of rights and responsibilities among consumers, business and government.

It also concluded that separate national monitoring and investigating systems should be established, along with a separate court for consumer cases.

Following the conclusion of the programme of work, CI published Understanding Provisions of Consumer Protection in Nepal (pdf) with a set of specific recommendations for the further strengthening of Nepal's consumer protection infrastructure. Chief among these were:

  • Establish fast track courts for consumer complaints
  • Provide inspection officers with sub-judicial rights for on-the-spot punishment of wrongdoers
  • Establish consumer complaint mechanism for each individual sector
  • Strengthen the Consumer Protection Council with increased representation from  the consumer movement
  • Standardise consumer products
  • Establish consumer laboratories for effective testing of products
  • Establish a collaborative consumer information centre to raise awareness of consumer rights

CI published the booklets in Nepali and English and they were disseminated to consumer organisations, government agencies, institutions and schools to highlight consumer rights.

The programme was run through CI's regional office in Kuala Lumpur under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization through the EC-Nepal WTO Assistance Programme towards "making the consumer movement a viable market force" from September 2011 until March 2012.


Don't miss... 19 April, 17.30 GMT: CI President Jim Guest will be online with World Bank Live to take questions on financial consumer protection

g20mex th

CI President Jim Guest is to meet exclusively with the chair of the G20 finance ministers today, ahead of their meeting in Washington.


Jim Guest, who is also CEO of CI member Consumer Reports, will also be highlighting the crucial role of consumer groups in financial protection at a related World Bank/G20 event: 'Financial inclusion: From principles to action'.


In line with CI's recommendations to the G20, Jim Guest will be making the case for strong regulatory oversight to ensure that financial products and services are safe, fair and appropriate.


CI's meeting with Dr Jose Antonio Meade, the Mexican finance minister, who will chair the meeting of the G20 finance ministers now that the G20 presidency has switched from France to Mexico, comes at a crucial time for CI's advocacy work. Many of our demands for better financial consumer protection are up for discussion.


The G20 finance ministers will be considering the Mexican presidency's priorities on financial services that include financial inclusion, financial education and financial consumer protection.


On financial consumer protection, the G20 finance ministers will be asked to approve two main streams of work.


First will be the development of a set of guidelines for the implementation of the OECD high level principles on financial consumer protection that were adopted by the G20 last year.


Second, they will be asked to support the creation of a new international organisation for national financial supervisors. This will be built on an existing loose network of financial supervisors called FinCoNet.


The formalisation of FinCoNet will fulfil one of the recommendations made by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in their report to the G20 last year. It will also create an institution that can carry forward the other recommendations made by the FSB.


On the CI blog: Read expert analysis from CI's Head of Campaigns, Justin Macmullan, on the potential outcomes of the G20 meetings in Washington.

US Senator Richard Blumenthal lent his support to the global consumer movement recently by calling for better consumer protection against unfair corporate practices and proposing a "ninth" consumer right to privacy in a televised address to the American Senate.

senator blumenthalThe first such formal statement on consumer rights  by a senior politician was exactly 50 years ago, when on 15 March 1962 US President John F. Kennedy noted that we are all consumers and that we comprise the largest economic group "affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision."

Blumenthal's address on World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) echoed JFK's  and found resonance in this year's WCRD theme: 'Our money, our rights: Campaigning for real choice in financial services'.

In his address, Blumenthal shared his passion for giving consumers a voice to confront corporations engaged in  "deceptive and dangerous or abusive practices".

Acknowledging the contribution that the work of CI and its members make to "encourage consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions for themselves in the marketplace", Blumenthal highlighted the global relevance of many consumer issues , particularly in relation to the current global financial crisis, as well as emerging issues around privacy in the digital age.

Blumenthal proposed a ninth right - the right to personal privacy - to the 8 consumer rights currently recognised by the global consumer movement.

According to the Connecticut senator, the digital age has brought with it a number of new challenges for consumers. One issue of growing concern is the security of personal information. Policy makers and the public alike are increasingly alarmed by the staggering scale of intrusion into private lives - whether by governments or companies - which is made possible by new technologies.

Blumenthal  questioned , "why would it be okay for a company like OnStart to track drivers who cancelled their subscription and sell that information on their movements to marketeers?", when in fact "the Supreme Court has just ruled that it's not okay for the government to track people via GPS in their car without a warrant".

Blumenthal's address was broadcast live on Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN), the US television channel that provides running coverage of government proceedings and other public policy events.

Watch the senate session featuring Richard Blumenthal's address on WCRD here.

Thursday 15 March is World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2012! This year's theme is Our money, our rights: campaigning for real choice in financial services, and the global consumer movement is highlighting this issue all over the world.

The right to choose

This is a basic consumer right that is continuously undermined when it comes to financial services. Consumers all over the world are getting a raw deal, but often find it difficult to shop around for a better option.

Without a strong incentive to offer more choice and better service, banks and other financial institutions are not competing with each other to offer better value.

In turn, consumers find it difficult to move their money and are trapped in bad deals. This problem applies to all sorts of financial products and services - from bank accounts to global money transfers - and it repeated the world over.  It's clear that more needs to be done to promote choice and competition in financial services.


Consumer rights: 50 years on

15 March 2012 is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's statement on consumer rights - he was the first ever leader to define what consumer rights should mean.


What is happening around the world?

CI's member organisations across the world are taking action to call for meaningful choice for consumers - whether it's switching banks, buying insurance or transferring money overseas.

  • See what consumer rights groups are doing for World Consumer Rights Day on our global activity map


Join the conversation

  • Join the discussion on our Facebook site
  • Follow on twitter with #WCRD2012

The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), a coalition of US and EU consumer advocacy groups coordinated by Consumers International has sent a letter to the head of Google calling on the search giant to suspend its controversial changes to its privacy policy.

The changes, which take effect across the world from 1 March, will allow Google to monitor signed-in users across a wide array of its products, including its search engine, YouTube, Gmail and Blogger.


The TACD letter asks Google CEO Larry Page to "suspend your March 1 plan to modify the terms of services for users of Google services… [as] It is both unfair and unwise for you to 'change the terms of the bargain' as you propose to do."


The letter goes on to outline TACD's concerns: "you propose to combine data from all of your services, provided by your users in very different contexts and for very different reasons, into a single profile without user consent and without any meaningful opportunity for users to opt-out."


Consumer rights groups across the world have expressed concern about Google's privacy change, which many see as another step in the continuing erosion of privacy in the digital age.


Consumers International programme on Consumer Rights and Representation is calling for the modern challenges to privacy and access to be fully reflected in the UN Guidelines to Consumer Protection. The UN Guidelines have not seen any change in this area since their adoption in 1985, 10 years before mainstream take up the Internet, and 13 years before the launch of Google.

The Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce of Jamaica has endorsed several key elements of a draft banking code for the Caribbean, following long term discussions with Consumers International. The final code would be a groundbreaking win for consumers, bringing greater clarity and plain language to banking fees, contract terms and service standards.

The Honourable Anthony Hylton has invited all stakeholders to work together to develop a progressive code, which would embody international best practices and be acceptable to the banking sector and consumers alike.

Catalyst for a new banking code

Addressing a consultation on the draft banking code at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston, on 19 January 2012, the Minister reflected on the 2010 Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) survey of bank charges and observed that the findings provided the "catalyst for the development of the proposed banking code."

Financial services in the Caribbean

Consumer Protection in the Caribbean

The development of the code is part of the 'Promotion of Consumer Protection in the Caribbean' project, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which involves Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. It is a key step in the ongoing work on financial services in the Caribbean region by Consumers International.

Regional Project Coordinator, Consumer International, Candice Ramessar, emphasised that the draft code is not an attempt to coerce the banking sector, but rather to encourage them to adopt practices and principles that are in the best interest of the banks as well as their customers.

The code

The draft code contains 11 key commitments, which include providing clarity on:

  • non-discriminatory access
  • service standards
  • product information
  • credit information
  • variation in fees and charges
  • provisions for elderly
  • disabled and pregnant consumers,
  • and dispute resolution.

Highlights of the code

Among the key commitments of the draft code is a requirement that banks should display service standards at their branches and on their websites, as well as make copies available on request.

Terms and conditions of contracts should be fair and should set out both parties' rights and responsibilities in plain and simple language, while legal and technical terms should only be used if necessary.

The code also states that banks will provide notification of changes in fees and charges at least 60 days before they are to take effect. ATMs are to display all fees associated with each transaction prior to the completion of the transactions.

Financial counsellorOur DfID-funded project is already showing fantastic results

Consumers International is pioneering free financial education counselling for poor communities in East Africa with a mix of photocopied materials and youtube.

The initiative, which has helped set up financial counselling services in slum and rural communities in Kenya and Tanzania, has already seen a 125 per cent rise in the number of people sticking to budgets and a 50 per cent fall in those skipping loan repayments.

The project is focused around a free-to-use financial counsellor's handbook, designed to be printed-out and photocopied by consumer groups wanting to set up counselling services.

As an introduction to the project, CI has produced a short film explaining how to use the handbook effectively.

Launched on youtube, the aim of the film is to demonstrate the ease with which financial counselling can get off the ground, the legacy of the project within the community, and the remarkable results of this straight-forward approach.



Download the Counsellor's Handbook
Blog - Small scale financial education making a big difference
See the project results data
More on the project's background

New proposals to be put to the G20 for improving financial consumer protection do not go far enough, Consumers International believes.

The draft international principles on financial consumer protection, drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and now out for public consultation, were requested by G20 finance ministers.  This follows Consumers International's call to the G20 for international action to enhance consumer protection in financial services as part of the Consumers for Fair Financial Services campaign.

However, the current draft principles raise serious concerns for the consumer movement:

  • Overall the draft does not demonstrate the commitment needed to address consumers' concerns about financial consumer protection. Too often the principles are undermined by language such as 'voluntary', 'non binding' and 'as appropriate.'

  • CI is very concerned that the draft does not recommend that consumers' assets such as bank deposits should be guaranteed. Deposit guarantee schemes are a protection for all actors, not only consumers. Systemic stability is also protected by such guarantees, which dissuade consumers from making panic withdrawals from their banks.

  • There should be a clear reference to the right of regulatory authorities to require that products have to conform to certain standards in order to be released onto the market, or to continue to be marketed.
  • Finally, CI urges governments to support the development of an international organisation for promoting financial consumer protection. The existing international network of financial consumer protection organisations, FinCoNet, should be given the political support and resources to play a more effective role at the global level.

As part of the public consultation CI member organisations around the world are writing to their finance ministers and directly to the OECD with this response, as well as submitting examples from their own country of the consequences of failures in financial consumer protection.

Members of the public can also comment directly on the proposals. Details of how to do this can be found on the OECD's public consultation page.

Find CI's summary response below, and, together with other position papers, on the Resources page in the Consumers For Fair Financial Services section.

Civil society has reacted with dismay and disappointment as the 19th session of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development ended without agreement in New York in the early hours of 14 May.

CI was heavily involved in the negotiations at CSD-19, as member states came together for one of the final UN discussions on sustainability before the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June 2012.

CSD-19 was a crucial meeting for the future of sustainable development, with member states, civil society organizations and related UN agencies working on the issues of transport, chemicals, waste management, mining and - of great interest to the consumer movement - the 10 year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production.

Unfortunately, at the very end of these negotiations (Friday 13th), with many of the thematic policy recommendations already agreed - the policy text for the 10-year framework of programmes among them- member states were not able to achieve a final consensus regarding a particular issue and this policy cycle ended with no substantive results.

This lack of consensus among governments and the consequent failure of CSD 19 becomes a complicated precedent for the negotiations of the Rio+20 earth summit and it certainly represents a bad sign for civil society organisations working for many years on this issue - CI among them - because it generates a significant gap in the process towards the achievement of the required global, regional and national policies, measures and actions to address the current patterns of production and consumption in a more sustainable manner.

For a detailed analysis of CSD-19, and the possible implications of its failure, download the IISD's Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

Not enough 'brain power' spent on consumers during financial crisis - French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde tells CI World Congress. 

Minister Lagard addresses consumer leaders from more than 60 countries gathered in Hong Kong to consider the global challenge of financial consumer protection.

In a video address to the Consumers International (CI) World Congress in Hong Kong, Christine Lagarde French Minister of Economic Affairs and chair of the G20 finance ministers in 2011 said:

"It is my personal belief that on the occasion of the [financial] crisis we didn't spend a lot of time, nor a lot of brain power on consumers", going on to say, "consumers were the victims on many occasions and in many instances".

Madame Lagarde also said "It is only fair that consumers are part of the process of rebuilding trust and rebuilding regulation and making sure that the same situation does not happen again."

Follow all the news on Consumers International World Congress here.

In an open letter released today, the heads of consumer organisations in eighteen G20 countries called on their finance ministers to ensure that the rapid increase in international attention given to financial consumer protection leads to 'a comprehensive solution and tangible benefits for consumers.'

With G20 finance ministers meeting this weekend in Washington, the letter calls for G20 finance ministers to use their influence to ensure the opportunity presented by so much international attention is not squandered.

The letter notes that in just six months the issue has been forced on to the agenda for G20 leaders' and G20 finance ministers. At the same time the World Bank is consulting on a new set of guidelines on the issue, and more than fifty government financial consumer protection agencies are meeting in May to discuss strengthening future collaboration.

The consumer organisations are all members of Consumers International (CI), and have helped develop our set of recommendations for global action on financial services.

Safe, fair and competitive markets in financial services. Recommendations to the G20 on options to enhance consumer protection in financial services, cover consumer protection for financial transactions, the structure and functions of national financial consumer protection agencies, redress systems, the promotion of competition in the sector, and the safety of consumers' deposits and investments. The recommendations also call for an international organisation to be established to support national bodies and review implementation.

Consumer organisations from around the world will be meeting in Hong Kong from 3-5 May for the CI World Congress with financial consumer protection high on the agenda. Speakers include the director of the World Bank's global programme on consumer protection and financial literacy and consumer organisations in the United States, China, the Netherlands, South Africa and Malaysia.

Full list of signatories:

Samuel Ocheing
President, Consumers International

James A. Guest
President & CEO, Consumers Union of United States, Inc.

Beatriz Garcia Buitrago
President, Consumidores Argentinos

Nick Stace
Chief Executive, Choice

Lisa Gunn
Executive Co-ordinator, Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor

Michael Janigan
Executive Director, Public Interest Advocacy Center

Monique Goyens
Director General, BEUC The European Consumers Organisation

Alain Bazot
President, UFC-QUE Choisir?

Gerd Billen
Executive Director,  Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband

Connie Lau
Chief Executive, Consumer Council of Hong Kong

Pradeep S Mehta
Secretary General, CUTS International

Sudaryatmo, SH
Chairman, Yayasan Lembaga Konsumen

Luisa Crisigiovanni
Director, Altroconsumo

Alejandro Calvillo Unna
Executive Director, El Poder del Consumidor

Mr Dmitriy Yanin
Director of the Confederation of Consumer Associations of Russia

Thami Bolani
Chairman, National Consumer Forum

Jaiok, Kim
President, Consumers Korea

Vice-President, Tüketici Dernekleri Federasyonu

Peter Vicary-Smith
Chief Executive, Which?


Costa Rican NGO National Front of Sectors Affected by the Pineapple Industry (FRENASAPP), called for a moratorium on further expansion of pineapple production in a public statement released yesterday.

Referring to CI's investigative film about the pineapple trade, FRENASAPP said it based its demand on a "series of stories circulating in Europe and the campaign in the European market against the commercialisation of pineapples in Costa Rica, initiated by the prestigious NGO Consumers International [as well as] a series of unpunished damages by pineapple companies".

The communiqué notes that intensive pineapple production has led to numerous environmental impacts including pollution of groundwater and surface water, draining of wetlands, destruction of forests, sedimentation of rivers, soil erosion, and infestations.

Workers rights violations

FRENASAPP's communiqué stresses "the serious violation of rights of workers," including the right to occupational health, to work in decent conditions, and to earn a living wage.

Environmental consequences violate human rights, "since the right to life is based on fundamental necessities such as the right to health and a healthy environment, to water, to food, and to adequate housing- all of which are being violated".

Furthermore, the communiqué states that "pineapple industry activity essentially benefits transnational companies and their national partners, deepens external dependency, promotes land concentration and undermines food sovereignty… at the expense of decent living communities, particularly the rural poor".


FRENASAPP is formed of local groups and communities affected by the pineapple producing regions of Brunca, the Atlantic Huetar and Huetar Norte. The group also has the support of organisations such as Forum Emaus Cedarena Ditsö, environmentalist groups, Asadas Association, development associations and several NGOs and civil society organisations.

CI urgently wants to see the needs of everyday consumers of financial services pushed to the top of the agenda at this week's G20 summit.  Consumer organisations from 30 countries, including the G20 countries, have signed an open letter pressing the summit attendees to ensure that the worldwide financial crisis is never repeated. The letter below has also been translated into French.

Dear Sir,

As world leaders gather for tomorrow's G20 summit, Consumers International, which represents 220 consumer organisations in 115 countries, is urgently calling for the needs of everyday consumers of financial services to be pushed to the top of the agenda.

Poor financial consumer protection - as exemplified by US sub-prime mortgages - was a key catalyst for the financial crisis. The interconnected nature of global banking then spread the crisis rapidly from country to country, threatening livelihoods, savings and social stability. People around the world will live with the consequences for years to come.

For many consumer organisations the financial crisis highlighted what is an ongoing emergency in financial services. Consumers International's members in large and small, rich and poor countries are dealing with complaints about financial products and services every day.  And each year the global economy creates up to 150 million new consumers of financial services, many of whom are in countries where consumer protection and financial literacy are woefully inadequate.

Last month, the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors issued a statement detailing the progress they have made in finding 'policies conducive to reducing excessive imbalances and maintaining current account imbalances at sustainable levels'.  This is, of course, important but once again there is barely a mention of the consumer - a crucial element that remains conspicuous by its absence from these international discussions.

The global nature of banking means that countries around the world are now facing the same challenges - it is common sense that they work together to develop solutions. We need a commitment from the most powerful nations in the world to protect "real people" from abusive financial services industry practices.

CI urgently wants to see the establishment of an Experts Group on Consumer Financial Protection which would report to the G20 summit in 2011.  This would be a first step to ensuring that consumers from both developed and developing nations have access to stable, fair and competitive financial services.

Getting this right is not only vital to consumers, but also to the ongoing stability of the world economy.

Yours faithfully,

Samuel Ochieng, President, Consumers International and Chief Executive, CIN, KENYA

James A Guest, Vice President, Consumers International and President and CEO, Consumers Union of U.S. Inc, U.S

Consumer organisations in G20 countries

Ricardo Nasio, President, PROCONSUMER, ARGENTINA

Beatriz Garcia Buitrago, President, Consumidores Argentinos, ARGENTINA

Nick Stace, Chief Executive, Choice, AUSTRALIA

Lisa Gunn, Executive Co-ordinator, IDEC, BRAZIL

Maria Ines Dolc, Institutional Coordinator, Proteste, BRAZIL

Michel Arnold, Executive Director, Option Consommateurs, CANADA

John Lawford, Counsel, PIAC, CANADA

Connie Lau, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Consumer Council, CHINA

Monique Goyens, Director General, BEUC - The European Consumers Organisation, EUROPEAN UNION

Reine-Claude Mader, President, CLCV, FRANCE

Alain Bazot, President, UFC-QUE Choisir?, FRANCE

Gerd Billen, President, Federation of German Consumer Organisations, GERMANY

Pradeep S Mehta, CUTS International, INDIA

Nirmala Desikan, Trustee, Consumers Association of INDIA

Sudaryatmo, SH, Charirman, Yayasan Lembarga Konsumen, INDONESIA

Luisa Crisigiovanni, Director of Altroconsuomo, ITALY

Maite Cortes Garcia Lozano, Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco, MEXICO

Alejandro Calvillo Unna, Executive Director, El Poder del Consumidor, MEXICO

Petr Shelisch, Chairman of the Consumers Union of RUSSIA

Mr Dmitriy Yanin, Director of the Confederation of Consumer Associations of RUSSIA

Dr. Mohammad A. Al Hamad, Chairman of the Executive Board, President of the Consumer Protection Association, SAUDI ARABIA

Thami Bolani, Chairman, National Consumer Forum, SOUTH AFRICA

Jaiok Kim, President, Consumers Korea, SOUTH KOREA

Ali Cetin, President, Federation of Consumer Organisations, TURKEY

Peter Vicary-Smith, Chief Executive, Which? UK

Non-G20 countries invited to attend the summit

John Kapito, Executive Director, Consumers Association of MALAWI

Francisco Sanchez Legran, President, FACUA - Consumers in Action, SPAIN

Jose Maria Mugica Flores, Director General, OCU, SPAIN

Ana Isabel Ceballo Sierra, President, Asociación General de Consumidores, ASGECO Confederación, SPAIN

Do Gia Phan, Vice President, Vietnam Standard and Consumers Association, VIETNAM

Demanding more from our leaders on financial consumer protection.

Consumers everywhere need access to stable, fair and competitive financial services. They have had to put up with abusive practices for too long and the recent global recession has not improved matters.With its members around the world, CI has launched Consumers for Fair Financial Services - a new campaign to address this crucial issue.

Despite making commitments at recent summits in Pittsburgh and Toronto, financial consumer protection has remained neglected by the G20. But getting this right is not only vital to consumers, but also to the stability of the world economy.

This is why the consumer movement is calling on G20 leaders to set up a new Experts Group on financial consumer protection at the their next summit in Seoul, South Korea on 11 to 12 November 2010. The Experts Group should be tasked with reporting to the G20 summit in 2011, with strong recommendations on protecting consumers of financial services.

To find out more download CI's full campaign call below:

The United Kingdom's Future of Banking Commission has today delivered its findings to the UK Government, calling for profound reform of the banking system.

The United Kingdom's Future of Banking Commission has today delivered its findings to the UK Government, calling for profound reform of the banking system. The Commission, which was set up by CI's UK member Which?, is a cross-party body looking to increase consumer input into financial services reform.


See also... Consumer solutions to the financial fix, Our Money, Our Rights! - World Consumer Rights Day 2010

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