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Consumer Insight Report Wales: do you share these concerns?

Today we’ve published our Consumer Insight Report for Wales. Our guest, Russell George AM, shares his views on our findings. Do you agree with the concerns raised?

This is a guest post by Russell George AM. All views expressed are Russell’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Which?’s first Consumer Insight report for Wales puts valuable evidence behind the stories I hear from my constituents on a regular basis.

As an elected politician in Wales, and Chair of the Welsh Parliament’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee, I have a strong interest in many of the consumer concerns that Which? highlights.

Broadband and rail concerns

Digital connectivity has been a big focus of our committee’s work. Many consumers in rural parts of Wales struggle with poor broadband speeds. In my own constituency of Montgomeryshire, Which? found that only 49% of premises receive the ‘Universal Service Obligation’ level of broadband connectivity.

That’s in spite of a range of initiatives introduced by the Welsh Government to improve connectivity.

This has a huge impact on businesses and individuals trying to operate in today’s digital society, and on tourists coming to visit our beautiful countryside.

When it comes to customer satisfaction with Rail services, I’m sure many Welsh passengers would applaud Which?’s advocacy of strong consumer rights when service falls below expectations.

The committee I chair investigated severe rail disruption in Wales during the autumn. Transport for Wales, the Welsh Government-owned company that took over the Wales and Borders rail franchise in October 2018, has ambitious long-term plans to improve the quality and capacity of services on the network. We are keeping a watching brief to make sure passengers get a much better service.

Costs, savings and trust

As a politician I am very focused on the particular problems and complaints that my constituents bring to me, but of course some consumer worries are universal.

The Consumer Insight report shows that the top 10 consumer worries are the same in Wales as the rest of the UK – from energy prices to Brexit and the interest on our savings.

More than a quarter of Welsh consumers (27%) are ‘feeling the squeeze’ financially, and so concern about the rising cost of daily essentials comes as no great surprise, but the research also highlights how many of us (39%) are worried that we’re not saving enough for the future.

The figures for consumer trust in Wales are also fascinating. There is huge inconsistency in terms of trust in public services. The health service in Wales scores highly – almost three quarters of us trust hospitals (72%), GPs and the NHS (71% respectively) – whereas only a quarter (26%) trust social care provision.

According to Which? figures, less than half of us (45%) trust our banking services. How we access banking in an increasingly cashless society is something my committee will be exploring in May/June – asking people in different parts of Wales how closing bank branches and removing ATMs is affecting them and their businesses.

We want as many people as possible to engage with our work. You can follow that work, and everything the Committee gets up to, on Twitter or on its website – I look forward to hearing from you!

This was a guest post by Russell George AM. All views expressed were Russell’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

kevin says:
9 May 2019

I would take issue with some of the views here, but I can’t really find anything of substance.
No surprise that WAG (that’s Welsh Assembly Government) have achieved little, and some would say they’ve made things worse.

For example broadband – WAG handed over a shedload of cash for a public sector broadband aggregation project years ago, but the delivery was typically over existing broadband fibre infrastructure. There was little to no improvement in rural provision, where the problem was, and still is. But there were lots of meetings and empty talk.

William Turner says:
20 March 2021

Firstly let me say I hold Russell George in high regard for his tireless efforts for the mid Wales area especially.
The connectivity issue recently brought up by Oliver Dowden in Parliament and as he reported in the Daily Telegraph a day ago does not address the real issue and did not include Wales in his proposed improvements .
BT lays the responsibility for connectivity and speeds firmly at the doorstep of ‘Open Reach’ their subsidiary maintenance arm and use them as their whipping boy, whilst denying any legal responsibility in their remit. So BT are allowed to make outlandish performance claims whilst keeping quiet about the actual speeds obtainable in the area of mid wales.

The following is for your information

Mr Oliver Dowden
Dear Sir,
For your information please find copy of my ‘’Comments”mail to the D.Telegraph 19th inst., in response to your article.
”Below is a conversation with a most pleasant person on BT.

I have obviously cut out the log details and the persons ‘Chat’ name and my details for obvious reasons. I don’t want it coming back on him. He was just doing his job – very well.

Wherever you got your figures from I don’t know, but they certainly not representative of many areas and are much lower in many areas of Wales certainly. They do need updating. Noticeable by omission was BBC’s news didn’t mention any improvement in Wales . Par for the coarse I suppose.

This is the gist of the Conversation :-

Hi can you please tell me what is BT ‘s contractual broadband speed for my property at post code

Please give me some time to check the account .

You are promised a speed of 1.0 Mbps

Can you do a speed check for me

Sure , please allow me me 2 minutes.

Thank you for waiting William , I can see that you are getting 1Mbps

Thank you

Most welcome , are you facing any issues with the internet ?

with one Mbps what do you think

I think I have the rest of the conversation if you wish but the ‘ball park figures’ which have been mentioned by’ Open Reach’ for fibre connection across fields to properties including my own are true.
The speeds as recorded by BT today 1Mbps . This sort of ’Speed’ is not unusual . To days news if true is for somewhere else, and certainly not for this area.
Yours sincerely
In conclusion I would like to add that the speeds quoted in the DT (and other media outlets) of the worst areas of the country , circa 30Mbps are beyond peoples wildest attainment dreams in this area of North Powys /Montgomeryshire and other surrounding districts at this point in time .
Do you realise how it sticks in our craw to hear British Telecom and other providers talk of super fast , and giga bytes , knowing full well that it is totally untrue.Yet we still have to pay the same’out the door’
direct debit as people who can use the speeds advertised. Robbers all .

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