Consumers and Standards:
Partnership for a Better World

6. Review questions: Answer Key

Section 1

1a) Which of the following aspects of goods and services can be addressed by a standard?

All of the following  
Quality
 
Ecology or environmental aspects
 
Safety
 
Reliability
 
Compatibility
 
Interoperability
 
Efficiency
 
NOTE: These are the main ones – there may be others!

1b) Are there any aspects of goods and services that cannot be addressed by a standard?

Yes
Almost all aspects can be addressed by a standard, however not the price! Performance levels can be set in safety standards, but in other standards levels are set by other means, for example legislation.

2) Indicate whether each of the following nine statements about standards are true (checked) or false

True  
a. Standards avoid having to reinvent the wheel as they distil the latest knowledge and make it available to all.
c. Standards can ensure vital features of goods and services are consistent (features such as, quality, ecology, safety, reliability, interoperability and so on).
d. International standards can help to make the development, manufacturing and supply of goods and services more efficient, safer and cleaner.
g. International standards can make trade between countries easier and fairer.
h. Standards are effective and commonly used to support technical regulations.
i. International standards can be adopted as national standards by members of ISO and IEC
False  
b. Standards restrict and hinder innovation and technical development.
e. Standards are a waste of time and effort.
f. Standards for consumer products serve the purposes of manufacturers, and consumers are irrelevant.

3) Which of the following is the ‘formal’ definition of a standard laid down in ISO/IEC Directives and also used by NSBs: A or B?

B : Formal
A standard is a document established by a consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimal degree of order in a given context.
A standard is a document established by a consensus of subject matter experts and approved by a recognized body that provides guidance on the design, use or performance of products, processes, services, systems or persons.
Explanations:  
  B is the formal definition but A is a useful working description in easier language!

4) Which words in the drop down box below fit the gaps in these sentences?

Besides being international, ISO and IEC Standards are referred to as ‘voluntary Standards’
A Standard (either national or international) becomes mandatory when it is used as a basis for legislation.
A Standard is mandatory only in the jurisdiction covered by the legislation

5) Which of the following in this list are objectives of ISO/COPOLCO? (choose one or more)

True  
a. Promote the positive role of standards in consumer protection
c. Support the development of consumer participation in standards development.
e. Make ISO/COPOLCO services available to ISO members worldwide
False  
b. Encourage consumer organizations in the world to join ISO/COPOLCO
d. Develop standards which have a role in consumer protection
Explanations:

 

  b: ISO/ COPOLCO’s membership is drawn from those National Standards Bodies (164 at end January 2013) that are members of ISO. Consumer organizations can participate in COPOLCO activities through their NSB.
  d: ISO/COPOLCO is a policy Committee of ISO and does not itself develop standards. It can recommend to ISO that particular standards are developed and can encourage consumer representatives to participate.

Issues for Consideration

How are national standards produced in your country? To what extent does your country rely on International standards, perhaps with modifications, for national use?
How are standards implemented in your country?

Section 2

1) One of the following is not amongst the 8 fundamentals of consumer protection formally recognized by the UN, which one is it?

a. The right to choose
b. The right to education
True
c. The right to prosperity
d. The right to safety
e. The right to redress
f. The right to be informed
g. The right to a healthy environment
Note:  
  c. The right to prosperity. All the others are fundamental rights.

2) Standards can include requirements or guidance about a number of aspects of products and services of interest to consumers. Below are listed 8 aspects commonly addressed by standards. Which are of interest to consumers?

All would interest consumers  
Types of warnings
Adequate disposal or recycling methods
Minimum height, distances or other criteria to ensure the user’s safety
Performance levels of the finished product
Amount or type of product information
Instructions for correct packaging
Product testing to protect the users’ safety and health
The composition of the products’ materials

3) Which 4 standards in the following list could directly improve consumer protection?

correct list  
a. Child resistant packaging
 
d. Customer satisfaction - Guidelines for complaints handling
 
e. Protection of personal information
g. Food safety management systems – Requirements for an organization in the food chain.
 

Discussion Topics

From the module or your experience, can you think of some examples where a consumer representative has directly improved the consumer protection value of a standard?
 
There are many but Section 2.5 of the module considers nine, namely:
  • The British standard on foreign-language learning holidays
  • The European standard on lifejackets
  • The standard in Argentina for fire extinguishers
  • The European standard for small electric lawn mowers
  • The standard in the USA on toy safety
  • The standard in the USA on infant’s cribs
  • The Standard in the USA on furniture
  • The International Standard on beach safety signs
  • The Australian standard on solaria

Issues for Consideration

How have formal standards improved consumers’ lives in your country?
Perhaps you don’t consider that they have! In which case is this to do with the lack of standards, lack of implementation and monitoring or having other ways of dealing with the problems?

Section 3

1) Indicate whether the following statements are true or false.

True  
d. Consumers have an important role to play in developing the scope of a standard.
f. Consumer representatives often have a useful role in checking that the test methods envisaged accurately reflect the hazard as it occurs in practice.
g. Consumer representatives must represent the position of all relevant consumers, including vulnerable consumers.
j. Your role as a consumer representative extends beyond attending meetings?
False  
a. Consumer representatives never have any effect on a standard.
b. There is no need for consumer input into standards development until a draft is available.
c. Consumer input is normally restricted to consideration of instructions.
e. Providing information how products are used in practice and common types of misuse is best left to the manufacturer to decide.
h. A customer is always a consumer.
i. There is no difference between a consumer and a consumer representative

2) Which of the following groups of consumers are considered to be ‘vulnerable’ consumers?

correct list  
a. The elderly
b. Children
d. People with a specific disability
f. The poor
g. Immigrants
incorrect  
c. Working age adults
e. Students

3) Consumer contributions to a standard mainly address which of the following 7 aspects?

correct list  
a. Scope of the standard
c. Instructions for Use
d. Ensuring safety issues are properly addressed
e. Providing information about how the product or service is actually used and common misuse
f. Performance criteria
not included  
b. The details of a test method
g. Details of materials used

4) Which four of the following sources are likely to be most helpful in finding out about consumer representation in your country?

correct list  
a. The ISO member body (NSB) in your country
 
c. A national member of Consumers International (CI)
 
d. International and regional consumer associations
g. The ISO Committee on Consumer Policy (ISO/COPOLCO)
 
b. A local consumer organization
e. Government departments
f. Trade associations

Issues for Consideration

What are the difficulties that consumer representatives, in particular, may have in representing their stakeholder group? Which of these difficulties are more relevant in your country? How might you start to address them?
 
Section 3.3 of this module considers some of the difficulties frequently encountered.
Below are some of the ways that a consumer organization can start to become involved in standards development.
  • Encouraging regular consultation between the NSB and consumers on policy matters.
  • Aiming for Consumer representative on the management board of the NSB or the group which considers strategy and priorities.
  • Aiming for Consumer representation on a couple of committees producing national standards of priority interest to consumers, and working towards consumer representation on these.
  • Aiming for Consumer representation on one or two national "mirror" committees for international standardization work of priority interest to consumers
  • Participation in one international technical committee as part of the national delegation
  • Ensuring your NSB is a member of ISO/COPOLCO and forwards relevant information and consultations to you
  • Aiming for Consumer representation internationally: as members of national delegations, or as representatives of Consumers International.
Which would be relevant to you in your situation? What might the appropriate strategy be in your country?

Section 4

1) Which of the following standards activities developed by ISO were based on initiatives from ISO/COPOLCO.

 
 
a. Social responsibility guidance
b. Second hand goods guide for standards writers
e. Customer satisfaction standards
False  
c. Properties and performance of plastics
d. Freight containers

2) Which following statements about the activities and support that ISO/COPOLCO can provide are true?

True  
a. ISO/COPOLCO produces a report annually which reports on consumer representatives activity in selected areas.
d. ISO/COPOLCO organizes an annual workshop on a subject topical for consumers and relevant to standards.
f. ISO/COPOLCO identifies topics where standards would be helpful for consumers and prepares background material for ISO Council and ISO's Secretary-General
g. ISO/COPOLCO is involved in training activities which are aimed particularly at developing countries.
 
 
b. ISO/COPOLCO asks for reports from all consumer representatives working at the national level.
 
c. ISO/COPOLCO can provide funding for consumer representatives
e. ISO/COPOLCO responds to requests from any consumer

3) Which of the following help to ensure the openness and transparency of ISO and IEC procedures and hence confidence in the standards?

 
a. Established and published procedures
b. Allowing experts from all interested stakeholders to participate in standards development.
 
c. The principle of consensus
e. The availability of Draft International Standards for comment, depending on the consultation procedures at the national level,
f. Voting, subject to strict rules, by the membership, on the acceptance of any standard
False  
 
d. Journalists’ presence during the proceedings of technical committee or working group meetings
 
g. Lobbying of committee members by special interest groups
Explanation:  
 
d and g are actually destructive to transparency and openness.
  • For d: Concern over negative publicity will inhibit free and open discussions among experts.
  • For g: Lobbying by special interest groups is destructive because it gives powerful groups unfair advantages in the market place. Lobbying is not conducted in an open forum and it therefore runs counter to the consensus process.

Issues for Consideration

Is your country a COPOLCO member? If so, how could your organization or country engage more actively in COPOLCO? What would you see as the benefits of this?
Why is it a great benefit for consumers to engage with standards bodies that have open and transparent processes?