Consumer protection is an essential tool in building a people-oriented ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The AEC prioritises the interests and welfare of consumers in the implementation of strategies for achieving an integrated economic region. Consumer protection laws must ensure fair competition and the free flow of information in the marketplace.
ASEAN Member States have differing levels of administrative capacity, available resources, public and private sector culture and capacity to adapt. In addition, each has a different political and administrative system and so there is no single consumer complaints and redress system which will fit all countries. Rather, models based on principles which might be adapted to any system are a preferable approach to gaining adequate levels of consumer protection across all countries.
The paper presents models for complaint handling systems and consumer redress schemes which may be suitable for implementation in the ASEAN Economic Community. This includes redress mechanism and complaint handling models for national consumer protection agencies, regulatory institutions, industry Ombudsmen, Small Claims Courts or Tribunals and for business complaint system operators. The models are based on identified international best practices and feedback from ASEAN Member States.
Goals for complaint systems and redress schemes in ASEAN Member States:
- Enhancing the welfare of all ASEAN consumers
- Building a sound ASEAN economic community
- Promoting quality and accountability in business and government