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Classroom slides - National Consumer Agency

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Lesson 5:
Consumer Protection Act
NOTE: The current curriculum refers to the Consumer
Information Act 1978 which was the predecessor to the
Consumer Protection Act 2007.
Exam answers should refer to the Consumer Information
Act 1978. Reference may be made to the Consumer
Protection Act 2007, but such references should be clearly
Overview of Lesson
The Consumer Protection Act 2007:
• Established the National
Consumer Agency
• Deals with misleading claims about
goods, services and prices
• Deals with EU Directives on unfair,
aggressive, misleading and
prohibited commercial practices
• The Consumer Protection Act 2007 came into
effect in Ireland on 1 May 2007
• It replaced the Consumer Information Act,
• It also replaced many older consumer laws,
some of which dated from the 19th century
• Its main function was to establish the National
Consumer Agency
Functions of
National Consumer Agency
The main functions of the NCA are to:
• Inform consumers of their rights through
consumer information
• Promote a strong consumer culture through
consumer education and awareness
• Help businesses comply with consumer law through its
enforcement activities, and,
• Represent consumer interests at all levels of local and
national consumer policy development through targeted
research and forceful advocacy
Activities of
National Consumer Agency
• In carrying out its functions, the NCA
performs various activities, e.g.
– Work with and consult consumer groups
– Conduct or commission research into areas of
consumer interest
– Promote public awareness and conduct consumer
rights information campaigns
– Raise awareness of consumer rights in young people through
educational initiatives (Shop Smart, quizzes)
– Prepare and publish guidelines for traders
– Perform the functions previously carried out by the Director of
Consumer Affairs
Powers of
National Consumer Agency
• In carrying out its functions, the NCA has
various powers, e.g.:
– To advise and make recommendations on any
legislation or policy which is likely to impact on
consumer protection
– To make proposals for new legislation
– To appoint authorised officers to enforce consumer legislation.
These officers have the right to enter premises, get
documentation and other evidence in relation to any trade or
business which is being investigated. They have the right to be
accompanied by the Gardai, if necessary and apply to the courts
for search warrants
Misleading Claims
• Under the Consumer Protection Act, 2007 it is a an
offence for any retailer, service provider,
manufacturer or advertiser to make a false or
misleading claim about themselves (e.g. that they are
members of a trade association when they are not),
or goods, services or prices
• It is an offence to sell goods that have a false or
misleading description
• It is also an offence to omit to give a consumer
material information about a product or service (e.g.
not telling a buyer that a car has been crashed
because they didn’t ask the question)
(i) Misleading Claims about
• Claims about ingredients, performance
and weight must be truthful
• Examples of misleading claims about
goods include:
– Trader selling second-hand cars which have been
“clocked”, i.e. the odometer has been tampered
with to show a reduced mileage
– Claim that a product will help remove dandruff when there is no
proof that it will do so
– Claim that a product is “Made in Ireland” when in fact it was
produced elsewhere
(ii) Misleading Claims about
• Claims about the manner, place or time in
which a service is provided and claims about
the effect of a service must be true
• Examples of misleading claims about
services include:
– A claim that a service is provided within 24 hours if it
will actually take longer, e.g. dry cleaning, photo
– A claim a service is available nationwide if it is not
available throughout the country
– A claim that a satellite television package includes
sports channels which are in fact only available at an
extra subscription cost
(iii) Misleading Claims about
• Previous prices, actual prices and
recommended prices of goods must be stated
• Example: when a retailer advertises an
item’s previous price in a sale, the item
must have been on sale at that price for
28 consecutive days in the previous
three months
EU Directives
• The Consumer Protection Act 2007 brings
into Irish law an EU Directive on unfair,
misleading and aggressive commercial
• In short, sellers may not use practices that
may lead to consumers buying products or
services that they would not buy under
normal circumstances
(i) Unfair Practices
• An unfair practice occurs when there is a
breach of good faith and a consumer is
denied a reasonable standard of skill and
• Example: a trader whose business is carrying out
home improvement work “cold calls” potential elderly
customers. He attempts to sell his services to the
consumer on the doorstep and attempts to start work
without permission, after telling the consumer that the
roof is in need of repair when this is not the case
(ii) Misleading Practices
• A practice is misleading if it contains false or
untruthful information or deceives the
• Example: a bakery placing a sign in the window
stating: “Our Award Winning Bread”. Unless the
bread has genuinely won an award this would be a
misleading practice
(iii) Aggressive Practices
• Aggressive in this context means the use of
harassment or undue influence on the consumer
• Examples include:
– A mechanic has a consumer’s car at his garage and
has done more work than agreed. He refuses to
return the car to the consumer until he is paid in full
for his work. The mechanic had not checked with
the consumer before carrying out the extra work
– A trader takes consumers to a holiday club
presentation at a distant location, with no apparent
return journey unless consumers sign a contract to
purchase another holiday
(iv) Prohibited Practices
The CPA also contains 32 specifically prohibited
practices including:
– Claiming an item is free if you have to pay more
than the reasonable cost of responding to the
offer or having the item delivered
– Commercial sellers creating an impression that
they are private sellers
– Telling a consumer they have won a prize where payment is
required in order to claim that prize
– Seeking payment for unsolicited goods, or the return of those
– Claiming the business is closing down when it is not
Summary of the Lesson
The Consumer Protection Act 2007:
• Established National Consumer Agency
• Deals with misleading claims about goods,
services and prices
• Deals with EU Directives on unfair,
aggressive, misleading and prohibited
commercial practices
Elements of the
Consumer Protection Act
Role Play
• In pairs, read the role play scenarios
• Choose one and prepare a likely
conversation that would take place between
the main parties involved
• Each role-play should last no longer than one
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