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The China Consumers' Association is a non-profit, government-funded organization established back in 1984 in order to help protect consumer rights.

The China Consumers’ Association is a non-profit, government-funded organization established back in 1984 in order to help protect consumer rights.

For the past 25 years, the CCA has had a limited role in protecting consumers during disputes against distributors.  The CCA has been forced to simply mediate disputes between consumers and vendors until it reaches the legal arena.  Yang Hongcan, secretary-general of the China Consumers’ Association, told China Daily that “Now, once the issue reaches the courts, we cannot do anything.”

Nevertheless, Yang Hongcan continued by stating, “The Consumer Protection Law will be amended this year, and we will be allowed to help consumers through legal representation.”  This means that the national consumer rights body will get the nod to represent consumers in courts this year.

Last year’s tainted-milk scandal, supporting of the CCA’s new power, was used by Yang as an example.
If the association had the right to represent consumers in court, the victims - more than 290,000 - would have been able to register their cases with the local CCA office and entrust it to represent them in court.

Qiu Baochang, Dean of Beijing-based Huijia Law Firm, said:
In many cases such as the milk scandal, it is hard for the consumer, as an individual, to have his or her rights protected. It is necessary to empower consumer organizations to represent groups of consumers in court.

Having a consumer organization educating, mitigating and representing consumers will save both time and money in the long run.  This will be especially helpful for low-income people who cannot always afford proper representation.

In 2008, the CCA received nearly 648,000 complaints from 4.38 million consumers.  Using those complaints, the CCA was able to recover more than $9.7 million through refunds and recalls.

The first major step being taken by the CCA is to amend the law stating that ‘consumers’ refers to those who buy goods and services considered daily necessities; excluding: housing, cars, and luxury items.
“This is unfair to [consumers]. So this year, we will try to have the definition of consumer expanded in the amendment to the law,” Yang said.

The CCA also released a guide to educate consumers on their rights.  This occurred yesterday, which was World Consumer Rights Day.

Source: www.AsiaEcon.org
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Source: www.asiaecon.org |

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