Consumer protection laws in many countries include customers rights that are designed to ensure consumers are treated fairly by vendors and businesses. Customer rights typically prevent business owners from discriminating against consumers based on factors such as age, race, gender, or religion. People are also protected from fraud and from practices such as price gauging. Many companies also have policies relating to consumer rights that employees must abide by when interacting with members of the public.
Laws in many places govern the manner in which the prices of products and services are displayed. Customer rights prevent businesses from concealing the prices of goods and services or from charging more than the advertised price. Consumers have the right to report instances of price gauging to local authorities, and businesses found to have violated customer rights often face fines. Laws related to consumer protections also allow customers of businesses to press civil or criminal charges when businesses fail to deliver services or goods despite having received payment.
Utility companies, especially when publicly owned, usually have to abide by consumer rights bills. People who live within districts covered by the local utility company have a right to have access to water, electricity, and gas. The utility company must ensure that breaks in service are quickly remedied so customers do not have to go without basic services for extended periods of time. People have the right to contest unusually high monthly bills or price increases. In many areas, customers also have the right to vote on plans to expand energy production facilities or plans to introduce new forms of energy production.
Retailers have policies relating to the customer's right to return merchandise. Laws in some places enable consumers to return goods with a receipt during a certain period of time after a purchase is made. Many companies allow customers to return goods beyond the minimum time frame for returns established by law. Customer rights relating to returned merchandise are normally prominently displayed in retail stores.
Basic customer rights that corporations require employees to follow include the right to be treated with courtesy and respect. Large companies often set out service expectations that employees are expected to follow. These expectations are communicated to employees as basic job responsibilities but are advertised to consumers as customer rights. Rights promoted by major corporations often include the right to expect quick service or the right to expect issues to be resolved in a timely manner. Many companies offer price discounts or other types of compensations if customers do not receive the level of service that the company mandates.