It is important that McDonalds Corporation makes sure that any of their widely attractive and competitive marketing activities are produced within the constraints of the law. Consumer protection involves defending consumers by giving them a way to get reparations for damage cause because of faulty products. Therefore, McDonalds should keep up with changes in the law and landmark rulings to make sure any marketing in which they are developing won’t be illegal.
Sales of Goods Act 1979
This act requires traders to sell goods whether that is written, verbal or graphical descriptions, they should be correctly and accurately described as well as being a satisfactory quality. This means that the condition of the product should include how long it lasts and being fit for purpose is key. This directly affects marketing activity as it means that any marketing should describe the product as accurately and truthful information. the product must be able to be used for purpose and if not, the customer is entitled to a full refund or exchange as a result of their concerns. If it is stated, it has to be guaranteed and false information given when advertising can be illegal.
For example, McDonalds is one of the biggest fast food industries known globally. The products that they sell cannot be falsely advertised stating they are very healthy as by law, the amount of calories, fat, carbohydrates and sugar are all ingredients must be state on the packaging. It must be shown to potential customers exactly what products they sell and the quality must meet the standards as they are advertised. If not, this could lead to fines and imprisonment. Also, if a customer has a dispute of a member of McDonalds about the calories of a burger, the customer would then be informed exactly how many calories are in a burger as they are stated on every bit of packaging for exactly what is in the burger.
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
This act entitles all customers to fair treatment and honesty from businesses they deal with. This relatively recent piece of legislation should not have
affected most businesses, but was targeted at organisations that do not always treat their customers well. Under this act, businesses cannot use aggressive sale tactics, or use dishonest promotional campaigns such as false advertising. For example, if McDonalds advertised their burgers on sale and they weren’t, this would result in mislead customers and giving false impressions to their target audiences which could possibly affect their reputation.
EBay is a good example of this act. If an item is bought from a seller that is not as described or to an unsatisfactory quality, the buyer in entitled to a refund. If the seller fights their corner and claims that the buyer’s comments are untrue, the buyer can then open a case in the resolution centre in order to resolve this problem. Under the buyer protection policy, eBay has the right to fight the corner of the buyer so that the right solution is made.
Consumer Credit Acts 1974 and 2006
This act protects consumer’s rights when they buy goods on credit or companies lending money to consumers. Traders who offend this law must have an OFT (Office of Fair Trading) licence and any complaints that arise with the customer regarding the organisation is dealt with by the FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service).
For example, if you buy an Apple Mac computer, when this good has been paid for using a form of credit whether it be a credit card or credit agreement arranged by the trader, you may have an equal liability claim against the credit firm providing the contracted amount is over £100 but no more than £30,000.
Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
Distance selling is any form of selling where there is no face to face communications between the customer and seller. the regulations require the business to provide clear information so customers can make more informed decisions regarding their purchases.
An example of this regulation would be EBay. The business will give the consumer information such as goods they are selling, clear description, condition, location, payment options, delivery arrangements and returns policy.
Data Protection Act 1998
This act means that any information stored by marketers must only be used for the stated purpose, must be accurately up to date and obtained fairly as well as lawfully. The act focuses on all businesses holding any confidential customer information on a database. As well as this, it should be no longer kept more than it is needed for a processed in line with your rights. It must be kept up to date as if someone passes away, you should not call asking for them.
Also, if your information is protected from unauthorised use, it cannot be passed on to other companies without permission. The information which is stored is available for your inspection and correction upon request. It should also be protected from transfer to an area outside of the EEA (European Economic Area) unless adequate. McDonalds only gather personal information when voluntary submitted on their website to give feedback and they have online prize promotions. Sometimes, they change their private policies but only if a pressure group acts against them which is brought to the organisations attention.
Trade Descriptions Act 1968
The act was introduced in order to protect consumers when purchasing products and services. It stipulates numerous different regulations that traders must adhere when carrying out their marketing activities. Sellers therefore must not mislead customers in any way as well as making descriptive yet accurate. This act not only refers to written descriptions but includes discussions, interactive exchanges and written documents.
For example, within this act the trader must not indicate that a price is lower than it actually is as this is giving customers false information and misguiding them. McDonalds could not advertise that the price of a meal is
£3.00 is it is more than that because people will get the wrong idea and be displeased by the service and description of their products being false.
Code of Advertising Practise and Advertising Standards Authority Marketing activities for a organisation are policed by the independent ASA. It is an industry body rather than a legal framework, and it promotes and maintains the UK code of advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing. The rules are to keep within the legal framework, protect customers from misleading claims, create an even footing for advertising.
Principals for this include regulations such as the advertising a business produces should be in lines with the following rules: should be legal, decent, honest, truthful and have a sense of responsibility. Their advertising should not also be misleading or offensive. For example, McDonalds should not create slogans or include graphical advertising methods offending certain animal welfare groups or vegetarians as this is disregarded and taken seriously as well as being odious which they could potential lose customers because of.
A pressure group is an organised group that seeks to influence government policy or to protect a particular cause of interest. They don’t fight elections but may promote specific issues and may have more political objectives to aim for whilst enduring their campaign. they are undergone quietly on issues which most citizens wouldn’t full understand or recognise. For example, policies such as a medical association wanting to persuade the government to close down tobacco companies would affect their business and would also result in many convenience stores that would sell cigarettes.
For example, in May 2011, more than 500 health professionals signed a petition to ask the makers of happy meals to stop marketing junk food to children so this had an impact on McDonalds in order to fulfil the needs to protesters so now healthier options such as fruit bags and fruit juices were introduced as a substitute to these ‘junk’ foods. Another example includes the animal rights pressure group; PETA launched a global campaign again
McDonalds regarding animal rights issues and have created a billboard campaign disregarding McDonald’s non guilty claims which tried to make the fast-food giants listen to their views against animal welfare and rights.
Consumerism is the organised efforts by individuals, groups and governments to help protect consumers from policies and practises that infringe the rights of consumers to fair business practises. It identifies the rights for consumers to be safe, to be informed, to choose and be heard. The Office of Fair Trading plays an active role in implement consumer legislation and to take action against traders who are seen as ‘unfair’.
The packaging is an example of this as McDonalds used to use boxes that weren’t biodegradable but now they are being more environmentally friendly by using plastic boxes that won’t wear away and the resource is cheaper and will last longer.
Advertising is mean to attract customers in but sometimes comments made can be acted upon and made subjective if the viewers don’t like what they see or hear. The language chosen for advertising needs to be accessible to the audience and put in a way that everyone can understand to widen the market of the product or service. The Advertising Standards Authority have acknowledged and acted upon the key areas which are when adverts refer to sex, involve strong language, religions and belief are fought against and also offensive grounds such as prejudgement or racism.
In McDonalds case, critical issues that arose as a result of their advertising were there was claims that the organisation ‘exploits children’ with its advertising; the company was blamed for misleading children by using attractive advertisement as the use of fun character Ronald McDonald to encourage young people and attracting them to kid’s meals.
John Bevan, H. C.-S. (2010). BTEC Level 3 National Business, Book 1. Harlow, Essex, GBR : Pearson Education. http://www.tradedescriptionsact.co.uk/content/trade-descriptions-act-1968-28.
html http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/2443603.stm http://www.asa.org.uk/