Function & Role
Quick counseling and redress are provided for consumers who encountered problems using products or services
Consumer victimization frequently occurs while using various types of products or services. However, there are many consumers who don’t know how to receive compensation. The Consumer Counseling Team provides counseling and handles complaints related to various fields such as automobile, daily articles, housing and facilities, publications, service, agriculture, textile, finance and insurance, law and medicine. Redress is provided based on recommended conciliation between parties involved in the dispute in accordance with the Compensation Criteria for Consumers’ Damages. If parties fail to reach an agreement, the case is referred to the Consumer Dispute Settlement Commission (CDSC) for mediation decision. There is also an expert committee to investigate the cause of consumer victimization.
The CDSC fairly handles dispute cases if parties don’t accept the recommended comprise by KCA.
Often times when consumers are victimized, the amount of monetary loss is small but determining liability for damages is difficult. Therefore, resolving cases through civil suits is a waste of time and money. If parties in a dispute fail to accept the recommended comprise by the KCA or other consumer organizations, the CDSC which has quasi-judicial power will make a mediation decision. The CDSC receives evidence and relevant data from the consumer and business and fairly handles the dispute by referencing test/inspection results or expert committee’s opinions. The Committee is comprised of 50 experts in the field of law, medicine, automobile, insurance and product liability, and representatives of consumer and business organizations who are appointed by the Chairman of Korea Fair Trade Commission on the recommendation of the KCA President. If both parties accept the decision by the CDSC, it has the same judicial effect as the court of law.
KCA studies consumer protection policies and laws.
KCA continuously pursues detailed researches on law and policy development to enhance the qualitative aspect of consumer life. Based on this, KCA develops consumer protection policy measures and proposes alternative policies to the government. Examples include the enactment of the Door-to-Door Sales Act, revision of the Installment Transaction Act, establishment of the Safety Measures for Imports and the standardization of insurance premium. KCA also introduced the recall system as an institutional framework to ensure consumer safety from defective products. This contributed to raising the level of consumer protection in Korea. KCA plans to facilitate continuous research and studies on measures to better protect vulnerable consumers, on consumer protection measures in newly developing industries.
KCA systematically monitors and collects injury information.
KCA promotes consumer safety and safety policy through gathering injury information and conducting in-depth investigations on product safety. KCA operates the Consumer Injury Surveillance System (CISS) to systematically manage injury information, This system collects, analyzes and evaluates injury information submitted by organizations including hospitals, fire stations, 1372 Consumer Counseling Center, Injury Reporting Hotline(080-900-3500) across the nation. KCA also set up the Children Safety Net (http://isafe.go.kr) which provides a wide range of safety information related to children. Among the collected injury information in which structural problems are found, KCA develops preventive measures through surveys, tests and inspections.
KCA tests and inspects products based on strict standards
Product diversity has brought forth new concerns associated with consumers. This underlines the importance of consumer safety and information to enable consumers to make rational choices. KCA conducts quality/performance/safety tests of various products and based on the test results, it quickly provides information to consumers and induces businesses to improve product quality. KCA also conducts scientific tests on products causing consumer disputes and provides the basis to fairly resolve the dispute. KCA currently has 47 different labs including the Food Nutrient Analysis Lab, the High Performance Textile Evaluation Lab, the Product Safety Evaluation Lab, the Electromagnetic Wave Measurement Lab and the Noise & Acoustic Characteristic Evaluation Lab. Experienced and knowledgeable staff objectively and fairly conducts product tests requested by the central and local governments, consumer organizations or consumers, and provides the test results. KCA tests the products firsthand or requests test results from another testing agency.
KCA monitors unfair business practices.
KCA focuses on improving transaction policies and practices in order to prevent consumers from suffering economic loss due to unfair business practices related to advertising, selling and contracting products and services. KCA examines transaction policies, unfair transaction and contract terms, and false labeling and advertising. Based on the results, KCA develops measures to establish market order which can be reflected in developing policies to protect consumer rights and interests. Other activities involve comparing prices of domestic and foreign goods, reviewing product quality warranties and user manuals, conducting distribution/margin surveys on imported consumer goods and modifying unfair clauses under accommodation contracts
KCA develops customized education programs for consumers
- KCA provides education and training to schools, governments and businesses on various topics such as prevention of consumer damages, consumer administration, business customer service, and CCM(consumer centered management) certification.
- There are pilot education programs for teachers and students, consumer administration officer education, consumer counseling education, business cs officer training and CCM education for businesses. In addition, KCA dispatches consumer education specialists to provide lectures if external agencies request
- KCA also develops diverse forms of education contents, including consumer manuals, videos and etc, so that consumers can actively respond to rapid changes in the consumption environment.
KCA issues consumer-related publications
Consumers tend to have difficulty obtaining articles which contain detailed information on products and services. In January 1988, KCA published its first edition of the monthly consumer magazine ‘Consumer Age’. The magazine includes product information to assist consumers to make the right choices and provides remedial measures for damages. KCA also publishes a journal three times a year ‘Studies on Consumer Affairs’ which includes study results related to consumption life. Other publications include a number of policy research reports and investigation reports to prevent consumer victimization and to raise consumer awareness
KCA provides up-to-date consumer news online and offline
KCA collects and analyzes information on transaction terms, labeling rules and prices of goods and services in order to allow consumers to lead a rational consumption life and to encourage businesses to improve product quality and to promote consumer-oriented management
The KCA Library possess regular periodicals, independent articles, research institute publications, statistics, dissertations, research reports, CD-ROM and etc.
- KCA Homepage (http://www.kca.go.kr)
- The site provides information about KCA, consumer alerts, up-to-date news, product prices and much more. There is also a section which enables consumers to voice their opinion and to make inquiries.
- CISS Homepage (http://www.ciss.or.kr)
- The site (Extranet and Intranet system) collects, analyzes and evaluates injury information which can be easily accessed by consumers, businesses and related institutions. This helps to protect consumer rights, to guarantee consumer safety and to prevent the spread of consumer victimization.