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What can you expect from our campaigns in 2017?

2017

2016 has been an eventful year! The decision to leave the EU, a new Prime Minister and the election of President Trump have taken many of us by surprise. It’s also been a big year for Which?’s campaigns…

The banking and energy competition inquiries finally reported. We’ve seen more action to drag the mobile and broadband companies kicking and screaming into the 21st century. And with train strikes and delays in the headlines as Christmas approaches, we’ve been standing up for long-suffering rail passengers.

So what were my highlights of the past 12 months?

Banking

After years of calling for a competition inquiry, we were disappointed with the inquiry’s final proposals. We supported its plans to improve switching, but it missed the big issue of people hit with pernicious overdraft charges.

That’s why we called on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to step in. And one of our wins of the year was its decision to look at overdrafts as part of its High Cost Credit review.

In 2017, we need to make sure it actually tackles these unfair charges.

Energy

We were happier with this inquiry. There has been action for people who have prepayment meters and often face bigger bills as a result. We’ve also put pressure on energy companies to do more to tackle the millions of customers stuck on the most expensive standard energy tariffs.

The problem is that all of this is going to take time. And the energy companies seem to be in no hurry to improve things for their customers this winter. So, inevitably, the government is looking at whether another intervention is necessary. In 2017, we’ll make sure they don’t make things worse by blundering in without thinking about the consequences.

Telecoms

The message finally seems to be getting through that mobile and broadband are essential services. So commitments to introduce automatic compensation, make it easier to switch providers, and to help people who currently don’t have superfast broadband were long overdue.

With legislation making these commitments a reality in 2017, Which? will continue to hassle the government, regulator and the telecoms companies to make sure we get the mobile and broadband services we all pay for.

Trains

Our super-complaint on rail delay compensation in December 2015 now seems strangely prescient after a disastrous year for train passengers. There’s clearly much, much more to do in 2017 to ensure we have a rail system in the UK that delivers a better experience for consumers.

But we have made some progress. The rail regulator agreed with our super-complaint and has ensured that the train companies do more when people are delayed. We stopped the government from delaying the Consumer Rights Act in rail. And in the past few weeks, we secured an action plan to tackle ticketing.

Nuisance calls

We’ve seen some successes on nuisance calls in 2016. Directors have been made accountable for not sticking to the rules and there has been action by the Scottish government.

Scams

We’ve made a big intervention on scams, issuing our super-complaint on bank transfer fraud to the Payment Systems Regulator in September. With your help, it has agreed with us that scams involving bank transfers are a serious problem, and one that’s growing.

It has also told banks that they need to do more to protect their customers, improve the way they respond to bank transfer scams, and do more to identify fraudulent payments.

The year ahead

We’ll need to keep the pressure up on all of these issues in 2017, as well as ensuring that consumers’ voices are heard on the Brexit negotiations.

So 2017 looks like an exciting year for Which? campaigns. And, as ever, we couldn’t do it without you. Your stories, opinions and support really do help us to shape what we campaign on and where we go next.

So what do you want to see us campaigning on in 2017? And what were your favourite consumer campaign wins in 2016?

Comments
Guest
bishbut says:
28 December 2016

Mandatory prison sentences for the many offences that fines are given for as many fines are very easily paid and companies declare themselves bankrupt and the fines are never paid The though of prison could make many stop and think No sentence at all to have a maximum A minimum for all even very minor first offences at the discretion of the judges or magistrates then some people get the sentence they deserve not the maximum all.owed by law

Guest

I am disappointed to see that nuisance calls do not seem to be abating despite the claimed ‘success’ of Which?’s campaigns. They now seem to be 100% fraudulent instead of around 60% previously. More pressure on government required as it thinks it’s done enough.

Guest

Hi John, that’s disappointing to hear. Have you noticed this personally? Of course, despite the success we saw last year with our nuisance calls campaign, our work on this isn’t over yet.

Guest

Hi Lauren – My comment was based partly on what I pick up from Conversations where there is still a stream of reports about technical support scams and various forms of telephone call-block scam, and from our own personal experience where previously there were very few nuisance calls and yet now there are two or three a week which either want computer access or personal details. Cold-calling for other purposes [compo claims, marketing, sales, surveys] seem to have dried up. So now we are getting more cold calls and every one of them is objectionable. My guess is that they are are now all of foreign origin.

Guest

Mine are still mixed, even had some very proper English accents.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had computer virus, recent accident, mobile phone contract up for renewal, PPI, Telephone Protection Service.

There is still a long way to go before any real success can be claimed methinks.

Guest

When I was at work I could divert a call to a different extension. I wish I could do that with the BT switchboard and send all my nuisance calls to No. 10. I have a feeling something would happen if we could do that.

Guest

BT do have a diversion service John, but you have a point your landline phone is connected to a giant electronic switchboard just a much bigger version of a large business system , in theory it could be done , but there would be massive loss of income .

Guest

I know it is possible to have all calls diverted to a specific number, but what I am looking for is a facility whereby you can transfer a call while you are on the line. So when Mr Computer Fraudster is on the line you say, “Just hold on a minute while I transfer you to the other line where I have the computer”, but you press 7 or whatever [which silences the call], and tap in the new number, press 7 again, and send the call to a completely different place. The person paying for the call carries on paying for it until is eventually terminated. I realise there is a possibility that this facility is technically feasible but the government couldn’t possibly admit it otherwise it would expose the oft-repeated argument that there is no way of cutting out nuisance calls as baseless. The best advice remains to terminate them immediately.