The consumer rights framework is the backbone of everything we do. Since 1957, we’ve existed to make consumers more powerful. For us to succeed, we need a consumer rights system that works.
We want a system that makes sure that consumers are protected from harm – whether that’s scams or food safety risks. And if things go wrong for consumers, companies need to take responsibility and be held to account, rather than passing customers from pillar to post, or hiding behind the small print.
Understanding the challenges consumers face and removing these barriers is central to our daily work. Which? has played a big part in helping to shape the UK’s current consumer rights framework.
From the appointment of the first Minister for Consumer Affairs to the Competition Act, Consumer Rights Act and creation of the Food Standards Agency, Which? has been leading the way in campaigning for protections for consumers.
A failing system
Regrettably, it’s well recognised that the enforcement system that underpins this framework is failing. Conscientious, dedicated individuals work hard to uphold the current system, but they face a losing battle against a broken regime.
Consumers have never had more choice or more convenience. The digital revolution has put billions of products and services at our fingertips and in this fast-paced marketplace, where new challenges for consumers are always emerging, everyone still wants, and deserves, to be treated fairly.
The current regime simply isn’t good enough and leaves consumers exposed and at risk of harm. In these uncertain times it’s more important than ever that we have systems we can rely on, with the flexibility to adapt to new consumer realities.
The case for change is clear but it’s not enough to just look at individual aspects of the system or to tinker around the edges – we need a wholesale overhaul to properly protect and empower consumers.
The government is looking at the consumer landscape through its Modernising Consumer Markets Green Paper, which is a welcome move. They must get this right and take the opportunity to deliver fundamental reform that will shape the consumer landscape for years to come.
In this report, we highlight the weaknesses of the current system and proposes seven changes to create a regime that will protect consumers effectively.
These proposals include expanding the role of the Competition and Markets Authority, and giving independence to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), as well as wider supporting changes for a more effective regime for the future.
At Which? we’re constantly questioning every aspect of consumer life to see if things can be made better. The government needs to take this opportunity to make things better for consumers.