A review of protections in consumer markets has been announced, looking at new technologies, enforcement and consumer protection. We want stronger and more effective enforcement, do you agree?
The Modernising Consumer Markets Green Paper sets out the government’s three principles for responding to the challenges and opportunities of modern consumer markets:
- 1. Competition is central – the government has a role in ensuring that consumers are active in the marketplace and that firms compete to provide the best goods and services for the lowest price
- 2. New tech that works in favour of the customer – we should all benefit from new technology and new business models, with competition and regulation working for us
- 3. Redress for when things go wrong – we should be able to resolve our consumer disputes and get redress, all with effective enforcement in cases of harm.
Consumer enforcement in the UK
The government had said that it’s considering strengthening national enforcement of consumer rights while maintaining strong levels of consumer protection at a local level.
While we welcome any new steps that ensure that we all get a better deal in vital areas like financial services, energy and telecoms, it will only make a difference if action can be taken against companies that break the rules.
Any new or existing consumer law isn’t worth the paper it’s printed if it can’t be enforced. We all need to be empowered to put things right when they go wrong, and at the centre of that is a strong route to enforcement for all consumers.
We want the government to use these reforms to overhaul our consumer enforcement system so that, as we leave the EU, we can ensure people are supported by high levels of rights and protection – with greater access than ever before to quality, affordable products and services.
We hear of lots of instances where enforcement action hasn’t been taken when we believe it should have been.
For example, a lot of enforcement action falls at the feet of an already stretched local Trading Standards teams who, despite a lack of funding and personnel, are expected to enforce 263 different pieces of legislation for different government departments.
The government has recognised that more can be done to help us all access to high-quality dispute resolution services and to avoid costly court hearings.
It says it will help consumers enforce their rights by improving consumers’ awareness, access and experience of alternative dispute resolution and in particular strengthen advocacy arrangements in the telecoms sector.
At present figuring out when, how and what Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme you should use can prove to be a stiff mountain to climb for many of us.
A consultation on the green paper will run for 12 weeks.
What changes do you think are needed to improve the current complaints and redress system? Have you had a problem with escalating a consumer rights problem?