Italian Competition Authority, consumer rights: 9 out of 10 youths would like to learn them in school


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According to the survey on young consumers carried out by the Italian Competition Authority through the portal, on a sample of 2,000 people, we become consumers at an increasingly early age, but without adequate awareness of our rights: only 1 in 3 teenagers declare that they know the main pillars of the Consumer Code.

Young consumers but, often, unprepared to assert their rights. Today, people frequently buy online from a very early age, so much so that almost half of Italian teenagers (47%) have already run into after-sales problems, such as receiving a defective or non-conforming product. However, a few know exactly what to do in cases like these. A picture of a generation eager to grow, but still a bit immature from the point of view of consumer protection, is outlined by the survey on young consumers carried out by the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) through the portal, thanks to the accounts of 2,000 students between the ages of 11 and 18.

In order to help young consumers become aware of their rights, for three years now the Italian Competition Authority has been carrying out the #convienesaperlo information campaign and initiatives aimed directly at students, such as the #convienesaperlo (anche a scuola) 2.0 competition, linked to a Quiz Game on consumer rights developed in collaboration with the portal. There is time until 15 March 2024 to participate in the latest edition of the competition.

An analysis of the answers to the questionnaire submitted shows that only 1 in 3 youths say they are familiar with the only instrument that can really protect them, i.e. the Consumer Code, so almost all of them ask to know more about it. Even thanks to school: as many as 9 out of 10 are in favour of specific lessons on these topics.

When asking those directly concerned a series of questions on the Consumer Code, roughly widespread gaps emerged, especially on the duration of protections: only 15% are aware that the legal guarantee on any goods sold lasts 24 months, while only 26% know that you can withdraw from an online purchase free of charge within 14 days of its receipt.

Things go much better when it comes to knowing the procedures to activate the protections. Approximately two thirds of the young consumers surveyed (62%) know that, in the event of a product failure within the warranty period, it can be repaired or replaced at no additional cost. 59% are aware that, in such circumstances, they must first exclusively address the seller.

As expected, digital natives are even more knowledgeable, if the purchase takes place online. 68% know very well that, if the purchased product arrives at home not working, they have the right to send it back without having to bear the shipping costs, while only 34% know that, if they take the goods back to a physical store, things could go differently. However, shortcomings remain and young people are willing to be helped, right from school desks: 58% of respondents believe it is imperative to learn more about consumer rights, while 31% would like this opportunity to be offered on an optional basis. A sort of additional right, to be used during hours of civic education or at other times of school life. On the other hand, just 1 in 10 believes that a young person can learn consumer rights by himself.

“Our Authority believes in the importance of educating the new generations so that young consumers can become aware of their rights and their protection. For this reason, for several years now we have been carrying out activities that involve students who, by playing, learn about the tools to defend themselves in particular against scams, which are now widespread in online purchases”, says Roberto Rustichelli, Chairman of the Italian Competition Authority.

The first benefits of this activity carried out by the AGCM are already beginning to be seen since as, according to the survey, half of the young consumers interviewed know the Authority and, more importantly, know that any violations of consumer rights must be reported to it.

Rome, 24 January 2024