What is a consumer?
A consumer is a person who buys goods and services for personal, domestic or household use. Children and young people have their own money to spend. They are significant consumers. Laws should protect the rights of young consumers, especially those with little knowledge about products or little experience as a consumer. In particular, children and young people should not be subjected to advertising or sales techniques that are misleading, confusing or unfair.
Current consumer protection laws
There are laws to protect consumers who buy goods and services. These laws aim to stop unfair or misleading behaviour by sellers, make sure that products are safe and fit to be sold and help people who are injured by faulty products.
Issue 1: We would like to hear about situations where you think the laws protecting consumers are inadequate.
Financial services to children and young people
Children and young people may open savings accounts with banks and use keycards. Generally banks will not give credit or credit cards to a person under the age of 18. A shared credit card may be given to a young person as part of an adult’s credit card. These restrictions apply even though a young person may work full time from the age of 15.
Organisations such as the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and consumer affairs agencies help people with complaints about banks.
Issue 2: We would like to hear about any problems you have had with banks and the services they offer.
Issue 3: Have you had any experience with an ombudsman or state agency? If so, did you find them helpful?
Media services include TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and the internet. Children and young people spend a lot of time using media services and often rely on them for information, trends and advice. Some types of media services that are directed to children and young people are regulated. For example, children’s programs on radio and TV must meet standards of quality and content. Pay TV or information on the internet is not currently regulated.
There is little agreement about the effect of advertising on children and young people. Some research shows that children under 5 find it hard to tell the difference between programs and advertisements. Also, children below 8 find it hard to tell that advertisements are trying to convince them to buy something. They may be more easily convinced by advertisements. Some people argue that advertisements for children are important because they teach them how to be a good consumer.
Issue 4: Do you think advertisements should be more or less restricted? Do you have any ideas on what sorts of restrictions would be useful?
Do you have any other comments on your rights as a consumer?