Consumer Protection Act
In today’s world, "Consumer is King" is an old mantra that has become more significant than ever. Consumer behaviors are shifting rapidly, and businesses are striving to market and deliver products that respond to consumer demands. Regrettably, not all promises can be fulfilled and not all transactions are successful. When products and services fail to meet the agreed quality standard or the terms and conditions advertised, disputes between consumers and business operators arise.
Since this is a matter that affects the consumer’s everyday life, it created the demand for greater protection of their rights. Consumers are equipped with tools to protect their entitlements including complaint channels and law enforcement.
In Thailand where economic development is progressing at a remarkable rate, consumer rights are protected and enforced under the Consumer Protection Act. The law provides consumers with access to court, options for damage recovery, compensation for etcetera. It is important for both consumers and business operators to understand the provisions outlined in this Act for their own benefits and to avoid being exploited.
What are Consumer Protection Rights in General?
Consumer protection rights are often established by law that aims to regulate the trade and relationship between the producers or service providers and the consumers. The series of protection is designed to encourage consumers to practice their rights and for businesses to refrain from engaging in fraud.
Consumer Rights Under Thailand's Consumer Protection Act
Under Thailand’s Consumer Protection Act, consumers can lodge complaints in regard to matters such as unsafe products, false advertisements, and incorrect labeling, for instance. This is different from the product liability law which concentrates more on the business operator’s liability towards consumers in case of any injuries caused by the products or services.
The dispute may also occur in the event that the business operator fails to meet the obligations in an agreement concerning the products and services. Consumers may file legal action against the manufacturer, importer, or service provider for damages incurred.
The Consumer Protection Act in Thailand offers protection to consumer rights as follows.
- The right to receive accurate and adequate information about the goods and services: This includes the information regarding the quality of products that may be available through advertising messages or labels.
- The right to freely select the goods and services to consume: This means that consumers in Thailand should be able to purchase or use the products or services based on their own free will.
- The right to be provided with safety when using the goods or services: The products or services offered by the business operator must meet an appropriate standard in terms of quality and safety. There should not be any damage or harm to the consumers if the product is used according to the guidelines.
- The right to enter into a fair contract: The business operator who manufactures, imports, or sells the goods or services must ensure that the contract with the consumer does not contain any unfair terms or false information.
- The right to have the damage caused by the goods and services considered and compensated for: Consumers have the right to file a complaint to the relevant authority for any damages or injuries resulting from the usage of the products or wrongful conduct of the business operator.
Aside from unfair trade or unsafe products, another violation of consumer rights that frequently occurs is deceptive advertising. The business operator must be cautious when attempting to advertise their products or services through various channels. Based on the provision in the Thai Consumer Protection Act, an advertisement must not contain a statement that is deemed unfair to the consumers or create an adverse effect on society as a whole.
This encompasses the following types of statements:
- Exaggerated or false statements regarding the goods or services
- A statement that may cause misunderstanding about important elements relating to the goods or services.
- A statement that may directly or indirectly encourage an illegal or immoral act that will negatively affect the nation’s culture.
- A statement that may affect the unity of the public.
The Committee on Advertisement may require the advertiser to attest to the validity of their statement if the Committee suspects the advertisement to be misleading or exaggerating. In case the business operators are uncertain as to whether their advertisement or promotion messages violate the Consumer Protection Act, they may submit a request for the Committee to examine the statements prior to public exposure.
Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB)
The Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB) was established to manage and fulfill the duties related to consumer protection. It is a government agency attached to the Office of the Prime Minister. The board’s key responsibilities involve handling complaints initiated by consumers and organizing legal actions against the violation of consumer rights.
The areas of consumer protection administered by OCPB are matters associated with advertising, labeling, and contracts. Other consumer concerns that are not governed by any specific law can also be submitted to OCPB for consideration.
The agency has the authority to summon any person to provide evidence or statement for any malpractices under the Consumer Protection Act.
Consumer Protection Issues in Thailand
Although the Consumer Protection Act has established long ago with the aim to safeguard consumer rights, only a small number of cases were filed with the relevant authority.
This may be due to the fact that many consumers in Thailand lack knowledge of their rights and are unaware of the legal tools available to them in case of unfair treatment by the producers, sellers, or service providers. It is highly advised for consumers to seek consultation with legal experts before submitting their cases to ensure their rights will be properly enforced.
For many years, attorneys at Siam Legal have been advising clients on consumer-related claims. We are equipped with legal practitioners who are well-versed in the Consumer Protection Act with hands-on experience in representing the consumers in court as well as negotiating with business providers for compensation. Regardless of how complex the case may be, we are pleased to provide our clients with innovative and strategic solutions. Contact us today for legal services catered to your specific needs.
If you have questions or concerns regarding Consumer Protect in Thailand, please do not hesitate to contact us.