In order to attain its mission PCR carries out the following activities:
- Advocacy, lobbying and campaigning
- Consumer awareness raising
- Consumer consulting and advice
- Action-oriented research
- Organization of trainings and seminars
Advocacy, campaigning and lobbying
At the early stages of its activities PCR concentrated more efforts on legislative improvements, as by the time PCR was established Armenia did not even have a law on Protection of Consumers Rights. Since 1997 the legislative field saw serious improvements, Law on Protection of Consumers’ Rights has been adopted in June 2001. Another consumer related important law such as the Law on Food Safety was adopted in August 1999. PCR has been actively involved in the process of development those laws, monitored their implementation and pushed for further improvements. As a result of PCR’s pressure both above mentioned laws were amended. Law on Protection of Consumers’ Rights was amended twice in November 2002 and December 2004, Law on Food Safety was amended in May 2005. Both incorporated almost all suggestions presented by PCR.
By the initiative of PCR on September 28, 2004 “Deputy Collaboration Supporting Consumers’ Rights” (DCSCR) was created with seven MPs of the RA National Assembly (Hrayr Karapetyan, Vostanik Maroukhian, Levon Mkrtchian, Hermine Naghdalyan, Ruben Hovsepyan, Gagik Mkheyan, Mkrtich Minasyan). This was in fact the first official announced lobbyist cooperation group in the history of Armenia. Today deputes group consists of 14 deputies form 4 faction. DCSCR constantly keeps its eye on consumer affairs and based on information provided by PCR calls the Executive on taking corresponding actions. Among the recent actions taken by DCSCR is the announcement made by RA National Assembly Deputy Hrayr Karapetyan, Coordinator of DCSCR on October 4th, 2005 during the NA session on the Telecommunication services low quality in Armenia.
In July, 2005 PCR launched another advocacy project supported by the Civic Initiative Support Program/Counterpart International (USAID) called “Consumer Independent Monitoring Public Initiative”. PCR’s advocacy activities in the framework of this project deal with food safety issues. PCR is now in process of developing a Draft Government Decree on “The procedure of confiscation and utilization of expired and/or low quality foodstuff”. The Draft will be presented to the Government of Republic of Armenia for approval in November 2006.
Consumer Awareness Raising
In order to reach out to as many consumers as possible along with advocacy efforts PCR also disseminates information on consumers’ rights in Armenia. Among recent publications of PCR are Useful Advice to Consumers and Comments and Explanation of RA Law on Consumer’s Rights. Also PCR has initiated publications of similar leaflets on topics such as basic rights of consumers, food labeling, rights and responsibilities of public utility providers and consumers. PCR disseminates this information through a network of its constituents and partner non-governmental, governmental and international organizations.
Recently in the framework of it public awareness raising strategy PCR has shoot and broadcasted a Public Social Advertisement supported by Dutch ConsumerenBond Consumer Organization. The social ad draws attention of public on food safety issues and calls upon every consumer to be conscious and check the expiration of foodstuff that is purchased. The ad was broadcasted for two months on two Armenian TV channels (2nd Public Television and “AR” TV). It will be broadcasted repeatedly in the framework of other projects to be carried out by PCR.
From November 1st, 2005 PCR started a project funded by the Eurasia foundation called “Consumers’ Rights Initiative in Public Utilities in Armenia”. This project consists of two main components: monitoring of public utility services (electricity, gas, water, and telecommunication) provided in Armenia and based on the monitoring results carrying out a public awareness raising campaign.
Consumer Consulting and Advice
PCR provides free consultations to concerned consumers through its hot-line and at its Resource Center. The hot-line has been operating for about 7 years. PCR has received about 700 calls annually from concerned consumers, who have received consultation and instructions for further actions from PCR’s legal consultants. From October 2005 PCR also runs a Recourse Canter furnished and equipped for receiving concerned consumers. PCR’s legal consultants are also available at the Center for consumer consultations. The Resource Center also has a library, with materials and books related to various aspects of consumers’ rights and the international practices of consumer rights protection. Books are also available for the general public.
Action oriented research
All activities of PCR are based on in-depth research. PCR studies consumers’ concerns and complaints, which serve basis for its projects. In order to provide consumers with impartial information on quality of services and products available in Armenian market, PCR carries out independent monitoring and laboratory expertise of food products. Monitoring and testing results, as well all research made by PCR are made available for general public. All the results and all information about PCR’s activities can be found on newly reconstructed web-site of PCR: www.consumer.am
Organization of trainings and seminars
PCR also organized trainings and seminars for raising awareness of consumers’ rights protection issues among targeted group, such as journalists, NGO practitioners, etc. The most recent was the training on “Food Safety problems in Armenia” organized in October, 2005. The training was aimed to make participants familiar with food safety problems existing in Armenia, the legislation related to food safety, its shortcomings, and basic provision of law that every consumer should know. In this way PCR tried to equip journalist with necessary tools to cover food safety issues in a more informed and professional manner.
In May 2006 PCR launched a new training campaign for ordinary consumers, who are willing to learn more about their rights. Once a month one hour long seminars are to be carried out for four registered group of consumers.