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Buyer beware. The past and present by word of the bewildered consumer shoppers in the modern marketplace look for the Best Buy the safest product and find a perplexing jumble of goods. The consumer's choice is the story behind this program series buyer beware. For some consumers the marketplace is the classroom. But others experiment in shopping to the tune of the class bell. All right remember what we're going to do today. I have the packages of bacon right here. Now if you do you know get to know the brand and you have Brown beat and place them in your plate. Now I want you to know the size of the strips before they cook and then afterwards. Well Jonah what did you find.
Well it's only half the size and I weighed each piece before and after and it's less than a quarter of the way it was to MY GOSH at that rate bacon costs almost $3 a pound. The results of this little experiment bring home a point for all consuming. This basket of instruction is becoming part of school curricula across the United States. As more and more citizens discover the potential of consumer education. Special courses are being devised to tell youngsters about the marketplace and its tricks. Here's an experiment. Allow these students to learn about chicken dog safety tires and other dubious products. Topic suggested for study by the superintendent of instruction in the state of Illinois are as varied as the economy itself. Guidelines are offered for
budgeting using consumer credit buying goods buying services purchasing and maintaining automotive products. Using leisure time renting or owning a home making use of insurance managing savings and investments. Understanding consumer taxes and realizing consumer rights and responsibilities. This long list only covers the surface of the complex role of the educated consumer. But many public and private groups are hopeful that education will be the final line of defense for today's and tomorrow's consumer. Virginia now our special assistant to the president for Consumer Affairs relates why she is especially committed to this concept. My late director and if you are a consumer protection I think that consumer education has been one of my major and when I got to Washington I had maybe I thought about doing something that I wanted out of statutory you know the federal
government would not be healthy to make a case that I feel that my office has a central the possibility Frank Gehry to head the introduction. Consumer protection courses are a in our consumer education courses. A right across this great country of ours. As it is now only a few states have any recognizable courses in consumer education and only run Illinois mandates of course the problem with Illinois of course is there are not enough teachers to teach it but we are what my office has done. Depending upon they are working with I should say a group educational expert in the consumer area have defied national guidelines. The tree will furnish free to all interested people and then outline the area to be had and possibly use or have not only the
resources but also a process or method of teaching. Consumer Education and we recommend that it be started as early as kindergarten and continue all through. Because I run shot deal is not going to be enough to train people to be want sophisticated shoppers. In the Market Place this is now outlined some specific approaches which have been proposed. We recommend several approaches either a single teacher teaching one course or perhaps a team approach mentored at discipline very interdisciplinary prep approach to consumer education or even an approach where our whole community is involved that only parents do. But also the community and sharing expertise care we that by a good many areas that they can be taught to with existing facilities in
existing courses in the areas of the market and how they can. Get Prince Harry Walker send back director of Consumers Union agrees with Mrs. now or about education of consumers at all levels. He draws on long standing experience in consumer education programs from Consumers Union. David Schoenfeld who has worked on the federal level and with Consumers Union is now developing special aids for instructors in this area. New York State and Consumers Union have started to assess the complex needs of consumer education at many levels. This work echoes Mr. Sand back sentiments demanded Consumers Union who is working on consumer education David Shawn Val who was formerly with the president's committee on consumer interest and was responsible for their educational program is that it really should start almost initiate
school and go all through the school system and be interwoven with everything that students learn but we don't and they are because people are out of school and people of every people are adults now who've never been through this kind of consumer education program so that it's necessary I think of consumer education and adult education programs in addition and. It's along these lines that we're working within our consumer education program at Consumers Union. Mr. send back was queried about insistence upon a formal system of consumer education. Now what you find at the present time is that state after state is considering or already putting in consumer programs of one kind or another. You know Illinois is you know you have a compulsory consumer education program every school theoretically at least is supposed to have some form of consumer education in the high
schools and it can be many different forms. Now we feel that it's best if it's woven into the classes and economics classes and home economics the prices and civics et cetera. If they get their consumer education as a part of their total high school program it's probably more effective than if you just set up a special course for consumer education. But it can be doing done both ways and it is being done both ways. New York State is tending to go in the direction of trying to merge it into the total program rather than having it specifically one course in consumer education. The state of Illinois has thus been a forerunner in this concept of consumer education. The Superintendent of Public Instruction has defined it in this way. Consumer Education is not intended to direct consumer choices. It does provide an awareness of alternatives and opportunities
and assist the consumer in making the choice which is best for his purposes. In light of his values nor is it the purpose of consumer education to indoctrinate values consumer education should provide the experiences that enable students to engage in the process of weighing the evidence necessary to arrive at an intelligent decision. Marilyn Metcalf supervisor for consumer education in the state of Illinois outlines the groundwork laid by her office. And when I was first struck. Right. So actually we've been one of the beginners in this behalf for education for all students. We prepared a publication of guidelines for consumer education. We took to the local school district and fulfilling the requirement of writing for the Building 7 7. The method
that a school district survives to fulfill this requirement in their day. There are. At least three ways in which they may implement or they may use a permanent combination of the three with a razor. One being a required course for all students. The second being the ignition of several courses which contain at least the minimum. The man of consumer education instruction. And lending integration and consumer education throughout the existing story. However a final determination. Concerning the matter of implementation life entirely when the local school district. The president's committee on consumer interest has hopes for a marketplace of wise shoppers. This committee sees a program of consumer education as the preparation of the individual in the skills concepts and understandings that are
required for everyday living. These will allow the individual within the framework of his own values to achieve maximum satisfaction and utilization of his resources. Obviously this is not the same as consumer information education of the shopper applies in many situations. But information deals with specifics such as size weight color and use it is temporary in nature and changes in the marketplace. Such knowledge is only helpful at a particular moment and place. But it does illustrate the general points learned in a classroom. So educators look for such information as working examples in their courses. Three Dickerson professor at Indiana University legal sources of learning materials are on hand at every turn. The only question is how they will be you.
But I think we have to look at the possibility of sort of the possibility of using And indeed we're doing this using a number of different approaches I don't know of a single consumer precaution or sanction that's capable of solving our consumer problems even in a single specialized area and certainly not over the whole spectrum of consumer products but certainly run of the most important approaches to minimizing of possible removing this disparity of knowledge between the buyer and the seller exists. So prevalent today is to try to increase the level of sophistication that the consumer has now and many consumers are quite sophisticated and in those instances we don't have to worry about that. This is a pretty spotty thing in the whole problem is exacerbated in the poverty areas where you have culturally deprived groups but I don't think I can say generally there's no
question that one of the most important tax and probably similar protection is a use of a ride range. Educational devices such things as warnings instructions for use pamphlets maybe local personal counseling and some of the ghetto areas. And then of course the type of educating that the. Magazines try to give us so the government has put out some interesting and I think quite helpful. Back in this. Many of the schools are getting consumer education in various forms some as separate courses and some places they infiltrate specific types of information into particular courses. Many groups furnish search data including Consumers Union and consumers research.
Frederick Schlink help consumers research relates the services of his organization in this area. Either because there represent important outlays or because they are hot topics in advertising or in the press of a given time. Mostly our work is concerned with the testing of products which are normal to most households. That of course in food automobiles electric appliances and household cleaning supplies almost anything that is in common use. We are supported only by consumers. We are a nonprofit organization. We have much service for teachers of consumer subjects and high school courses in economic and
consumer Byman ship and even courses in business and can do it and use our material. Most of our work is done in the laboratory so we have a welly testing laboratory for most things used in the home and we are have been pioneers in the matter of safety mechanical and electrical which is also very hastily handled by the Underwriters Laboratories such as a laboratory. Reason because there were several other cities but we were working on safety problems before the government or any other company Kingston City took much interest in something we pride ourselves on having been 40 years in the business of protecting consumers from electrical shock from being caught in a
washing machine wringer and other commercial enterprises also see the advantages of the informed consumer. Those companies which produce quality goods have a vested interest in an educated marketplace why shoppers will tend to buy the best even at greater cost. Manufacturers of bad merchandise may find little business left for them if consumers did not shop with intelligence cut rate producers of shoddy goods might easily capture the market. So all the instructor in a high school classroom makes use of pamphlets from Sears Penneys and Ward's charts from General Mills and General Foods checklist from General Electric and Westinghouse. The supplies are endless filmstrips tapes booklets all of these are incorporated into appealing teaching resources. Marilyn Metcalf the Illinois supervisor of consumer education reflects on such materials
on how to write conference there. And we have many resources and the related to the various topics in the consumer education and we've been trying to encourage teachers to some of every resource people in their local community and the materials that are made available by the various companies and this organization. So we've seen increased supply in the types of materials that are being available and developing and consumer education. There seems to be a current move toward the development of new material which are of great quality and we're trying to make this information available to the teachers so that they make the base and the carry out. Additional assistance comes from Washington D.C. that branch of the government
which is particularly concerned with Education the Department of Health Education and Welfare has set up a special Office of Community and field services. This is Patricia Riley assistant secretary in its office was asked what she could offer as aides to consumer education courses. The following for example is a list of the many ways that an individual consumer or a group of consumers can obtain information on food drugs or credit. One they may write mine there is written literature in the form of correspondence booklets pamphlets posters even comic books for children to films or slides which are made available with or without a representative of the department present showing. Number three radio and television announcements and special programs in cooperation with the government especially via the use of the educational channels on TV for newspaper articles in the form of press releases articles of special interest and the
advertising buy consumer phone a taped telephone message containing timely information for the consumer. When the merely dial a number the number and then listen. Six correspondence pertaining to a specific inquiry for which there is no payment for. Seven arrange for personal meetings with appropriate staff members concerning any problem or arrange for consumer specialist department staff members or appropriate division chief bureau chief or assistant secretaries to address a group or to bring the private sponsored consumer education programmes to a particular city or a particular area. It should be noted I think that included in the printed materials available at FDA is a list of printed literature by subject which is available to the consumer at no cost or for a very nominal charge. Stan Thomas deputy assistant in this office feels particularly keenly about the demands of youth. He puts the concern for educated consumers in an
even broader perspective. Young people around the nation both in colleges in inner city areas and disadvantaged communities have more than expressed an interest in the environment and the effect of the environment on the food and many other things that affect their lives. As far as we can tell from what we consider our listening post this interest will increase their involvement in questions about pollution both air and water as well as on the question of foods and how they disseminated will be of increasing concern to them. Also the question of drugs of course both medical and narcotic drugs is of particular interest to the to the young person. We all have heard recently of the many tragedies that have occurred as a result of drug use. What we're trying to do with h e w is to encourage the involvement of youth and students in planning some of our programs as they those programs relate to them. And recently the
secretary announced that the public advisory committees of this department will will include young people in this decision making apparatus. So and then in the final analysis with analysis we can say that the environment as it can affects them in terms of the air they breathe in the food they eat will become of increasing concern they'll express that concern to us right here in Washington and we hope we can creatively in response respond to it. The range of topics covered by materials from the unique argument of Agriculture is also surprisingly extensive. Pamphlet extension experts and researchers consider lawn maintenance and raising pets to name only hundreds of subjects. Ted Crane of the office of information that the U.S. Department of Agriculture feels pressure for many types of consumer
education. The general information mass communications across the board information for the average consumer with the typical problems is not always a solution to our getting out necessary information across what I'm talking about now is the discovery that special groups minority groups in the lower income groups and urban groups versus rural groups versus ethnic groups. Need special kinds of information. And this is gets back. To the need for. Information Education programs adapted to particular needs now is more than simply a matter of translating booklets and leaflets into Spanish. It's a question of. Translating their whole basic concept of using different recipes of using different kinds of foods of approaching them with different stories or relating them to relating the problems to the reader in special ways and with special events so they understand and understand the importance to them. So we have had to
rethink. Many of our information programs many of our action programs ways of reaching groups that we had not really thought about in any very broad sense until quite recently until we realize how few of them we were reaching. Mr. Crane relates one specific program directed at a particular group of a back up and say the various studies have shown that we reach only a portion and it's apt to be a very small portion of the total eligible population who could use our food assistance programs. And the reason given for this of course is that we are simply not physically reaching them with our message that they are not getting the newspaper story or the radio message or the leaflet. Or the flyer. And if they are getting it they are not understanding it or appreciating it or they part any number of reasons are not motivated to act on the information they receive. So various
studies in the States indicated that the only way to reach them with the by a far more concerted pinpointed information effort than is available in mass communications that we would have to literally reach out. To find them personally to explain and to persuade on a one by one basis the importance of programs available to them and the wealth of information available to them. Here is one method of reaching consumers no longer in school. The wife shopper of tomorrow may yet be found in today's classrooms. But what hope remains for those beyond the reach of school miss is Virginia now our visualizes ways to educate them to rehab. We are working with George Washington University we have a been a doctoral intern program going and working with our very talented consumer education to face it within my office.
We're working out guidelines on suggested courses that could be taught to older people and people with a limited education by people who themselves do not perhaps graduate teachers so-called paraprofessional that with adequate training crewed in turning out informational material that we think will develop the extra key to their day to day battle market. And she also expresses concern for the older members of society. We find that to be in your statistics. A great many life problems and redeveloping ahead not only for seniors but also for the inner city people and hearing informational applet. We think they'll be the best advocate for their easy to
read and they write about problems that babysat people. But the key to this program of consumer education may rest with the children. This is now hours easy even kindergarten classes filled with future consumers I think part of the exam. It is fair to ask the children to bring out a white elephant article to school and then give the play money and then allow them to choose among quite a few things and see what they do and then to enunciate it in there to guard their vocabulary why they made that selection begin to show that this is not just impulse buying even at that early age I was little
granddaughter that day when I used to take her shopping. He did what he had seen her mother doing lifting up by the dress to look at it seemed and ham handed even and he was aware that the hand should be long so that he would grow into a head of the children are imitative at this age and that we feel it's never too early to start letting them make value comparisons. We only. Consumer shoppers search for information and protection by the best. Our next program looks at the marketplace will shoppers still ponder the fray.
This is the national educational radio network.
Buyer beware
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12 Of 26
The New Consumer
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Buyer beware; 12 Of 26; The New Consumer,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
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APA: Buyer beware; 12 Of 26; The New Consumer. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from