Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Consumer Rights Day!

I'm in the final week of preparations for my city's first World Storytelling Day community celebration. Under my guidance, twelve amazing young writers in grades four through twelve are going to be taking the stage this Sunday to tell (not read) their stories to a theatre full of families. So what does this have to do with World Consumer Rights Day?

Nothing. Or so I thought until I received an email yesterday from Julie Hauser, Communications Manager at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) about World Consumer Rights Day, which, like World Storytelling day is an interesting and educational yet largely unknown celebration.

CI Logo
World Consumer Rights Day
World Consumer Rights Day is a project of Consumers International (CI), an aggregate of 220 member organizations operating in 115 countries that was founded in 1960. The CI is a watch-dog group whose purpose is to "protect and empower consumers everywhere."

According to their website, WCRD was founded on a speech that President J.F. Kennedy gave to the US Congress on March 15, 1963. In this speech, Kennedy addressed the issue of consumer rights, which, according to the site, made him the first world leader to do so.

The eight rights included in Kennedy's speech were: access to basic needs, safety, information and choice, plus the right to be heard and the right to redress as well as rights to consumer education and a healthy environment. World Consumer Rights Day, which first took place in 1983, is a day in which groups organize to celebrate and show global solidarity around Kennedy's eight points.

Especially since the market meltdown in 2008 (and the last few days!) consumer rights in the financial services industry have become an increasingly important part of the celebration.

Your Rights as a Canadian Consumer
Did you know that you have the following rights as a consumer of financial products?
  1. The right to open a bank account even if you don't have a job, do not have any money to put in the account or have been bankrupt.
  2. The right to cash Government of Canada cheques up to $1,500 at any federally regulated financial institution without having to pay a service fee, even if you are not a client of that institution.
  3. The right to know the terms of any loan that you take out at a federally regulated financial institution.
You can find more information online about your financial consumer rights in Canada at the FCAC website. And if, like me, you would like to know exactly what qualifies as a "federally regulated financial institution," you can find an overview of the obligations and voluntary codes of conduct on the FCAC website as well.  

And as you consider how your family might mark these little-known celebrations, here's a suggestion. This Sunday, on World Storytelling Day (March 20th), tell a child a story about money. Or, even better, tell a story about Consumer Rights Day which is today, March 15th.

Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved. 
For reprint permission contact money@agentstory.net.

2 comments:

  1. You are amazing Laura! To be able to produce such a ggod blog just before a major event for you. See you on Sunday.

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  2. Really you have provided a very good site about world consumer rights day. It is an important occasion for mobilizing citizen action with the launch of the junk food generation campaign, and it is an annual occasion for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement. Thanks a lot...

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