Frequently Asked Questions
- What do you do?
- Who are your members?
- How does my organisation become a member?
- How were you founded?
- Who runs Consumers International?
- How are you funded?
- Where are you based?
- Do you have an anti-corruption and bribery statement?
- What is sustainable consumption?
- Do you handle individual consumer complaints?
- What are the consumer rights?
We work with our members and partners on issues where we can achieve global impact for consumers. We work on issues that affect consumers in multiple countries and across national borders. Together, we drive change in the global marketplace on a scale that cannot be achieved at a national level alone, to ensure consumers are treated safely, fairly and honestly.
We bring together over 200 member organisations in more than 100 countries to empower and champion the rights of consumers everywhere. Our members share a passion to improve outcomes for consumers. By working together, with a range of partners, we drive change in the global marketplace on a scale that individual members cannot achieve alone.
Our members are made up of regional, national and local consumer groups, consumer government agencies and consumer-related issue groups from all over the world.
We represent the largest consumer organisations in the world, many of which have been the trusted, national voices for their consumers for decades, responsible for dramatic improvements to peoples’ lives. Other members are semi-voluntary associations providing information, advice and concentrating on education and community development to improve access to food, water and other basic services in some of the world's poorest countries.
Our government members similarly range from major competition and fair trading agencies to recently established government departments in small countries addressing consumer issues for the first time.
You can see all of our members listed on our members directory.
If your organisation is interested in becoming a member, please contact us for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumers International, formerly known as the International Organisation of Consumers Unions (IOCU), was founded in 1960 by five consumer organisations from the US, Western Europe and Australia.
Our global staff are led by our Director General, who is guided by and accountable to Consumers International’s Board of Trustees. Consumers International’s trustees are ultimately responsible in law for the charity, its assets and activities.
As a world confederation of consumer rights groups the Board of Trustees is appointed from our Council. The Council is an advisory body to the Board of Trustees and is elected by voting members at the General Assembly that takes place every four to five years.
Consumers International’s funding comes from members, governments, foundations and private sector organisations whose goals align with ours.
We’re a global organisation. Our global office is in the UK and we have regional hubs for Asia Pacific, Latin America & Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East.
Consumers International is committed to carrying out all our activities in an honest and ethical manner and we take a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption.
The full policy can be found here.
Sustainable consumption is about doing more and better with less. There is no definitive way to be a ‘sustainable and responsible consumer’. This can simply mean reconsidering a purchase; fixing or reusing an existing product; or choosing a product certified as having a beneficial environmental or social impact. Guidance and labels from standards bodies, consumer organisations, non-governmental organisations, governments or peers can help guide such choices. But this should not be down to consumer choice alone. Governments and businesses need to take the lead, and to provide clear and reliable information to consumers. In turn, consumers can push for such action via consumer organisations.
We are working with policymakers and supply chain decision makers to help make sustainable consumption the easy option; and with consumers to call for the information they need most.
Consumers International does not run a consumer complaints service, as unfortunately we do not have the legal knowledge or staff resources required. We are the secretariat office of a membership organisation, and work in partnership with our members and associates.
Every commercial organisation is governed by the laws and regulations of their own country, there is not ‘one’ single law or complaints service for international complaints. Therefore, to escalate your complaint you will need either a lawyer or a consumer protection agency in the country of operation of the company you wish to challenge.
Please visit our member directory; scroll down and enter the country where the organisation is based; if we have a member in the relevant country it will be listed.
If we do not have a member in the appropriate country then you could search online for a consumer protection agency or consumer protection Lawyer.
Other points of contacts that may be useful:
For UK based issues: https://www.gov.uk/consumer-advice / https://www.gov.uk/consumer-protection-rights, or Citizens Advice bureau; you can find the nearest office to you from their website or call 08444 111 444
European based issues: European Consumer Centres (funded by European Commission)
Cross border issues: ICPEN (International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network)
US President John F. Kennedy first outlined a vision of consumer rights in a special message to Congress on 15 March 1962 (the day we now celebrate as World Consumer Rights Day). Over time, the consumer movement developed this into a broader vision of our rights and needs as consumers that now guides much of our work and that of our members. The rights developed by Consumers International and its members are:
- The right to satisfaction of basic needs - To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.
- The right to safety - To be protected against products, production processes and services that are hazardous to health or life.
- The right to be informed - To be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.
- The right to choose - To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
- The right to be heard - To have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.
- The right to redress - To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
- The right to consumer education - To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
- The right to a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment that is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
Following successful campaigning by Consumers International, the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1985. These were brought up to date in 2015, when the General Assembly adopted the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection. These guidelines are an important tool, giving added legitimacy to the principles of consumer rights and practical support and guidance for the development of consumer protection around the world. The guidelines contain a number of consumer needs that broadly reflect the consumer rights.