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12. Customer rights and responsibilities
Questions for Discussion
Exercise 1. Use your target vocabulary to replace these explanations.
Exercise 2. Complete these sentences using your target vocabulary in the appropriate form.
Tips for Topic Development
‘Social responsibility’ of companies has become a buzzword in modern societies. The motto of many businesses is caveat emptor (‘let the buyer beware’). It means that if the customer is not satisfied with the product they file a product liability suit, which can drastically affect business prospects. For example, the value of the stock of the Bic Corporation dropped when the company revealed a number of suits claiming that Bic lighters exploded, causing severe injuries and even death.
In order to bring a product to a market companies are expected to obtain liability insurance. From the customer’s point of view this approach seems justified but it creates a number of difficulties for companies. You can’t argue that a manufacturer should be held liable for a product’s safety only if the manufacturer “knew, or should have known, about its dangers.” However, even this approach has perils since it is difficult to determine the extent to which a manufacturer should do research to ensure that every possible product safety contingency is considered.
A stringent 100 percent requirement may mean that most products would take years to get to market — if they make it at all — and would be extremely expensive. It is clear that consumers wouldn’t appreciate this. One approach taken by businesses that care about consumers involves a compromise: attempting to be 99 percent certain that the product is safe, taking out large insurance policies, and hoping for the best. (based on K.M. Bartol, Management, P-121)
Agree or disagree with these statements.
Complaining about faulty goods or bad service is never easy. Most people dislike making a fuss. However, when you are shopping, it is important to know your rights.
When you buy something from a shop, you are making a contract. This contract means that it’s up to the shop — not the manufacturer — to deal with your complaints if the goods are not satisfactory. What do we mean by satisfactory?
The goods must not be broken or damaged and must work properly. This is known as “merchantable quality”. A sheet, say, which had a tear in it, or a clock that didn’t go when you wound it would not pass this test.
The goods must be as described — whether on the pack or by the salesman. A hairdryer which the box says is blue should not turn out to be pink; a pair of shoes the salesman says is leather should not be plastic.
The goods should be fit for their purpose. This means the purpose for which most people buy those particular goods. If, for instance, the shop assures you that a certain glue will mend broken china and it doesn’t you have a right to return it.
If the shop sells the faulty goods, it has broken its side of the bargain.
If goods are faulty when you first inspect or use them, go back to the shop, say that you cancel the purchase and ask for a complete refund. If you prefer, you can accept a repair or replacement.
If the goods break down through no fault of yours, after you have used them for a time, you may still be entitled to some compensation.