A Study on the Level of Awareness of Consumer Protection and Consumer Rights: A Turkish Sample

This study aimed at determining the level awareness of the society on the consumer rights and consumer protection within the scope of current legal regulations in Turkey and at serving as a guide for the training and research activities to be carried
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  HUMANITIES THE JOURNAL THE INTERNATIONAL of  Volume 8, Number 11 A Study on the Level of Awareness of ConsumerProtection and Consumer Rights: A Turkish Sample Müberra Babaoğul, Arzu Şener and Esna Betül Buğday         !"  #!$  %&''  ()* !!*  #+ ( ,$ -#!) ( (,$-#!)"  '../01&2 3 %&'' 4$5$! 6*  46 3 %&'' 4!" $ $! 6 ( ,$ !! ) 5$  7 7 $!) 7   7 $+* "* ""  5  $ $  !"#! "+) !)!*   7  8 + # $"$ #+ + "    7  #!   $  9* ! "" :");")$#!)"<        5$* $ #+ ) " 7 "7"$ "! 8) $ 9!5 "+* )  !+ !!"! 8 7  ) #" $ ) )7""  #!$ +  ( ,$ 8 )) ) (,-#! !"! +) + ")$#!)"7  A Study on the Level of Awareness of Consumer Protection and Consumer Rights: A Turkish Sample Müberra Babaoğul, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey Arzu Şener, Hacettepe University, Ankara, TurkeyEsna Betül Buğday, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey  Abstract: This study aimed at determining the level awareness of the society on the consumer rightsand consumer protection within the scope of current legal regulations in Turkey and at serving as a guide for the training and research activities to be carried out in this eld. This is the rst and the only study carried out with the cooperation of NGO’s, the Ministry and the universities. Within the scopeofthestudy;12Turkishprovinceshavingdifferentgeographical,culturalandsocio-economicstructureswere chosen on statistical basis in such way to represent the Turkey in the best way. Study sampling was composed of 784 consumers at “≥ 18 years old” age group, from different socio-economic levelsand randomly selected from these 12 provinces. Keywords: Consumer Rights, Consumer Protection Introduction I N TODAY’S SOCIAL  settlement also known as information society, consumer has tomonitor and analyze the continuous and intense information ow like a computer. Withliberalization and globalization and greater thrust towards privatization accompaniedwithheightenedawarenessonaccountofincreasedavailabilityofinformationandmediaexposuretoday’sconsumerhaschangedradically.(Shekhar,,2008).Modernconsumer shouldknow,understand,andevaluatetheelementssuchasvariouskinds,types,andbrandsofgoodsandtheirunendingdetailsfromitspricetotechnicalfeatures(Ferman,1993;Çakır,1988). Consumer’s knowledge and experience is too much limited about issues like price,quality, necessity, and usefulness of the good and services that are served in the free marketto compete with the other side of the process (Demir, 2001; Demirel, 1999; Kipel 1996). Asa result unjust treatment of consumers has increased in terms of price, quality, health andsecurityofthegoodsandservicesthattheyhavepurchased;theycannotfollowimprovementsand cannot reach adequate and accurate information anymore. Consumer is the prisoner of economic power that they cannot control and also as the shopping opportunities increase,the problems have risen. (Akipek, 1996; Demir, 2001).Allthesereasonspromptthegovernmentstomonitorconsumersviadevelopingconsumer welfare approach to protect them in the international platforms in time. The main reason of this approach is the fact that since consumer groups are not organized and informed enoughin developing countries like Turkey, they cannot protect their self-interests. Therefore, thegovernment is responsible from protecting consumer’s interests and practices enter into the juridicalsystemtoensureprotectionofconsumersagainstdeceptionandfraud(Kipel,1996; The International Journal of the HumanitiesVolume 8, Number 11, 2011,, ISSN 1447-9508 ©CommonGround,MüberraBabaoğul,ArzuŞener,EsnaBetülBuğday,AllRightsReserved,  Güngör 2000). As Kisthwaria et. al (2004) indicated consumer legislation and organizationsare necessary to reduce consumer exploitation. Background “Consumerprotection”campaignsthatbeganin 1960s in thewest havestartedto show their effects in Turkey, and studies have been accelerated for the harmonization process after thefull membership application to the European Union in 1987. Turkey is affected from theUnion’s consumer advocacy approach and consumer protection policies. Harmonization of this issue becomes effective through the “Consumer Protection Law” on 8 September 1995 before Customs Unions (Şahin, 1988; Çağlar, 2002; Ministry of Industry and Trade, 1999).OnFebruary23,1995theConsumerProtectionLawno.4077isacceptedbyGrandNationalAssembly of Turkey and entered into force on March 8, 1995; on March 6, 2003 changesweremadeandtheLawwithitsnalformhascameintoforceonJune14,2003.Consumers’rights have been more protected by these changes made in the Consumer Law.It is observed that there is a signicant increase in the number of complaints received by“Consumer Courts” and “Consumer Arbitration Committees” that are formed as a problemsolving mechanisms in the scope of “Consumer Protection Law” and that have importantfunctionssincethelawhascameintoforce(SanayiveTicaretBakanlığı,2006, 2008, 2010).However, population of 20 years of age or older is more than the 40 million according tothe censes conducted in Turkey in 2000 and considering that this age group are the actualconsumers, it can be said that number of consumers that are using problem solving mechan-isms and that are aware of consumers’ rights are still very low. Yet primarily consumersshouldbeawareoftheirrightsinordertoprotectthemselves.However,smallscaleresearchesemphasize that consumers are not aware of universal consumers’ rights and in this contextthey are not aware of their legal rights in detail. Also these researches points out that theydo not use legal mechanisms in solving their problems adequately and they signicantlyneed to be informed and educated (Usta, 2001; Altunışık et. al, 2004; Kor, 2007).Government,privateinstitutions,universities,andconsumerorganizationshaveimportantroles in consumers’ education and enlightenment and to create a harmonious cooperation isrequired between these units. This current study is the rst and the only one conducted toadjusteducationalandresearchactivities,thataredonebydetermininglevelofconsciousnessabout the public’s consumers’ rights and consumer protection in the scope of present legalarrangements in Turkey, and it is done with the contributions of the Ministry of Industryand Trade as well as Hacettepe University Consumer-Market-Research-Advisory-Test andTraining Center (TÜPADEM) and Foundation of Consumer and Environmental Training(TÜKÇEV).This research aims to dene knowledge and consciousness level of consumers age 18 andolder,thatliveindifferentgeographicalregionsinTurkeyintermsofsocio-economicdevel-opment,abouttheimplementationsoftheresponsiblepartiesconcerning“consumerprotectionandconsumers’rights”andinthelightofthedataobtainedaimistodirectconsumertraining by identifying policies and strategies that enhances responsible parties’ implementations.258THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE HUMANITIES  Method Sampling  The universe of the research is 34,036,000 people who are 18 years old or older and livingin 12 provinces representing the urban regions of Turkey. 12 provinces representing general population of Turkey are in the level 2 of “Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics”(IBBS).Thisclassicationinaccordancewith“EuropeanUnionTerritorialStatisticalSystem”isformedaccordingtothesocio-economicdevelopmentlevelsthataredevelopedbyTurkishStatistical Institute.Participants are chosen from 12 provinces which are İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa, İzmir,Tekirdağ,Adana,Samsun,Kayseri,Trabzon,Gaziantep,Malatya,andErzurumrepresentingIBBSLevel-2bythemethodofquotarandomsampling.Consumers,consistingof784womenand men, participated in the research are from socio-economic status of A, B, C1, C2, D,and E and they are 18 years of age or older. Research is limited to the population living indowntown.Research group consists of 45.7% women and 54.3% men. Consumers between 18-24years of age make up 17.9 %, consumers between 25-29 years of age are 15.4%, and con-sumersbetween30-34yearsofageare11.5%.Consumersthatareolderthanage35comprise55.5%. Consumers taken into consideration in the research consist of 41.5 % wage-earners,20.7 % are self-employed and 37.8 % of consumers do not work. Data Collection Tool  In this study a questionnaire developed by researchers is used to identify the consciousnesslevelofconsumers,thatare18yearsofageandolderandchosenfrom12citiesthatrepresentsTurkey, about Consumers’ Rights and Consumer Protection. In the research comprehensivequestionnaire is conducted to examine issues such as consumers’ demographic and socio-economic characteristics, shopping behaviors, level of knowledge about the consumers’rights, encountering a defective good/service situation, the way they pursue to solve the problem, the awareness of the institutions trying to protect consumers. Before conductingquestionnaires, a pilot survey with 30 consumers was done. Afterwards the questions with problems reviewed and changed. Parts of the questionnaire and the questions are explainedin this section as follows. Consumers’ Demographic and Socio-economic Characteristics This research examines the characteristics of consumers such as gender, age, marital status,income, education, socio-economic status.In this study, the consumers are divided into 6 groups that are A, B, C1, C2, D, and E withregard to their socio-economic status. In classifying consumers with regard to their socio-economic status, the used criteria is taken from the Socio-Economic Status Research 2006that has conducted by Turkish Researchers’ Association and. Criteria that the classicationsof socio-economic groups of consumers are based on are as follows:259MÜBERRA BABAOĞUL, ARZU ŞENER, ESNA BETÜL BUĞDAY
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