In reading the Consultation Paper on the Regulation of Small Print in Consumer Contracts in the past few days, I came across a concept that I hadn’t seen before – something called the “average consumer”.
The “average consumer” is defined by the European Court of Justice as being “reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, taking into account social cultural and linguistic factors”.
There can be multiple “average consumers” taking into consideration clearly identifiable groups – e.g. those who are particularly vulnerable because of their mental or physical infirmity, age or credulity.
The concept of the “average consumer” has been included in the Consumer Protection Act 2007 here in Ireland, but as far as I can tell, it is an untested concept when it comes down to the protection of consumers from unfair business practices.
So, do you think that you’re an “average consumer”? How does your behaviour match up to the stated criteria from the ECJ?
- Reasonably well informed – how familiar are you with your consumer rights?
- Reasonably observant – do you check your receipts, your bills, your change, read the small print?
- Circumspect – Do you assume that businesses will always do right by you? If a deal sounds too good to be true, is it?