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Proclamation 6748—National Consumers Week, 1994

October 24, 1994

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The American marketplace is the great engine of our free enterprise system. Ever-expanding as it evolves in response to consumer needs and desires, it inspires technological innovation and the development of new products and services, and it rewards efficiency and productivity. The framers of our Constitution sought to establish a free market in which competition, ingenuity, and productivity would flourish. Today, it is more apparent than ever that their intent has been realized—Americans can choose from the greatest variety of goods and services in the history of the world.

This extraordinary economic machine works most efficiently when we as consumers are at the controls: when our choices and decisions, our requirements and collective will determine the direction and the workings of the marketplace. But individuals and the Nation's economy suffer when products and services are ineffective, inferior, or unsafe; when prices are unfair; and when consumer needs for reliable information and protection are unmet. If such abuses were to become common, the consequent loss of faith in our free market system would jeopardize our American way of life.

On March 15, 1962, President John F. Kennedy acknowledged the centrality of consumers in our marketplace in his Special Message to Congress on Protecting the Consumer Interest.

The Federal Government—by nature the highest spokesman for all the people—has a special obligation to be alert to the consumer's needs and to advance the consumer's interests.

Since then, what has come to be called the Consumer Bill of Rights has evolved as our marketplace has evolved. At present, it includes:

(1) The Right to Safety—the right to expect that the consumer's health, safety, and financial security will be protected effectively in the marketplace;

(2) The Right to Information—the right to have full and accurate information upon which to make free and considered decisions and to be protected against false or misleading claims;

(3) The Right to Choice—the right to make an informed choice among products and services in a free market at fair and competitive prices;

(4) The Right to Be Heard—the right to a full and fair hearing and equitable resolution of consumer problems; and,

(5) The Right to Consumer Education, added by President Gerald R. Ford in 1975—the right to continuing consumer education without which the consumer cannot enjoy the full benefit of the other enumerated rights.

In the 3 decades since President Kennedy's message, our marketplace has changed. Innovations in such vital areas as materials and electronics, telecommunications technology, health care, food processing and packaging, and financial services; the increasingly fast-paced global economy; and the urgent need to preserve our environment have altered what we buy as well as how we buy. The technological complexity of much of what we buy and, frequently, the distance between buyer and maker or seller have expanded the importance of service. Americans understand that service means the commitment to consumers that their experiences in the marketplace will meet all reasonable expectations of civility, responsiveness, convenience, performance, and fairness.

I propose that for National Consumers Week, 1994, we, as a Nation, declare an additional consumer right:

(6) The Right to Service—the right to convenience, courtesy, and responsiveness to consumer problems and needs and all steps necessary to ensure that products and services meet the quality and performance levels claimed for them.

Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the week beginning October 23, 1994, as "National Consumers Week." I urge all business persons, educators, members of the professions, public officials, consumer leaders, and the media to observe this week by emphasizing and promoting the fundamental importance of consumer rights in our marketplace.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and nineteenth.

Signature of William J. Clinton


William J. Clinton, Proclamation 6748—National Consumers Week, 1994 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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