Consumer Rights

"Customers don’t expect you to be perfect but they expect you to fix things when they go wrong."

Don Porter (1912 – 1997), American actor
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This Business English lesson plan on consumer rights has been designed for business professionals or other adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Consumer rights are important for both the customer and the business. Customers need protecting from unethical business practices and businesses need to know that they are operating on a fair and competitive playing field. In this Business English lesson plan on consumer rights, students will have the opportunity discuss and express their opinions on issues such as why consumer rights are necessary, what knowledge they have about their rights as a customer and how these laws affect businesses.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

The Conversation | “Research shows most online consumer contracts are incomprehensible, but still legally binding”

The article talks about the contracts customers enter in to when they make a purchase even if they haven’t read the terms and conditions. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was written? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below at home. In the class, the students will answer a number of conversation questions directly or indirectly related to the content of the video.

The video for this class is called “A Guide To Your Consumer Rights” by The Guardian and explains the consumer rights that customers have in the UK.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including what consumer rights are and what consumer protection exists in the students’ countries.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with consumer rights such as overcharge, recall and proof of purchase. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the conversation questions. Before the conversation, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about consumer protection. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the customer protection offered by their companies, unethical practices consumers need protecting from and how the laws and regulations affect businesses.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write a guide for the customers of their company explaining what their consumer rights are. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise business-style writing as well as improving their grammar with the feedback from their teacher.

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