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Which industry do you trust the least?

Word 'trust'

Its ‘Back to School’ week. I  find myself reminiscing about the summer and prospect of a new start. Now my school years are gone will the prospect of an improved economy be something to look forward to….

Much has changed over the summer in our monthly tracking of how we’re coping in the economy.

For the second month in a row we have seen that the number of people who expect the economy to get better in the next year is greater than the number of people who expect it to get worse – which is a first for quite a long time.

Cost of living looms over us

This month, 31% expect the economy to improve in the next year, up from 21% in September 2012. Is this just a summer blip, or has recent positive economic news given us a boost?

But at the same time, the rising cost of living looms over us and doesn’t look like it’s shifting any time soon. Around three quarters of us are worried about the cost of energy, fuel and food and half of us have housing costs on our mind – like paying the rent or mortgage repayments.

And it’s not just schools that are back. MPs are back in Parliament and gearing up for the party conference season. We asked MPs about which industries they trusted to act in your best interests.

Even MPs lack trust in the banks

Perhaps it is the likely suspects that come bottom of both MPs’ and our trust levels. Just 30% of MPs and 33% of us say that we trust the banking industry to act in our best interest. Just 21% of MPs and 23% of the general public trust the energy sector to act in our best interest. I was also interested to see that mobile phone companies rank near the bottom on trust too – with just 31% of both MPs and consumers saying we trust mobile phone providers to act in consumers’ interest.

While the summer has brought greater optimism towards the economy, rising prices have meant that the cost of living remains at the top of our agenda. And our everyday essentials services – like banking and energy – are not making it any easier for us.

So what does the next year have in store for us and will we see improvement to the cost of living? We want to see the issue taken seriously and ensure we pay fair prices for our everyday needs. Do you think the economic optimism will last or are you worried about how you’ll cope in the year ahead?


I don’t trust the food industry through from production to supply. Profit is the driver, and encouraging us to buy and eat excessively takes precedence over supply of fresh, wholesome food.

At the start of our lives we may be fed inferior alternatives to mother’s milk thanks to successful marketing by large companies. As children we will learn to appreciate the sweet taste of cola and other sweetened soft drinks, develop a taste for unhealthy snacks manufactured by the makers of washing powders, and if we actually drink water, it has to be bottled water.

As teenagers and young adults, we are likely to eat out far more than our parents, enjoying enormous portions, because providing large platefuls is the best way to attract repeat custom. By the time we have started to become overweight and unhealthy, we may turn to food and supplements that make unfounded claims for health benefits. We may switch to foods that appear to be more healthy but the fat may have been replaced by sugar. And then, there is plenty more money to be made making and supplying diet products, and more unnecessary supplements. Supermarkets must take a lot of the blame, enticing us to buy more food than we need.

If we recognise the importance of eating our ‘five a day’, we are likely to buy products that have been shipped half way round the world and in some cases artificially ripened, because that can be cheaper than fresh, local produce.


That is an excellent résumé of the situation we have found ourselves in as a result of the behaviour of the industrialised and commercialised food supply operators. Luckily, it is still – just about – possible to abstain from its seductive allures and eat and drink in ways that are both healthy and enjoyable, although you have to temper your diet according to the seasons and get to like some things which are not always appealing.

I used to have hope that the education industry which has spawned and mushroomed over my lifetime, and now costs us mega-billions, would counteract the commercial pressures and teach the young people of this country how to live well and grow up to be better parents for their own off-spring. The top talent has probably been lured into the food production, pharmaceutical, marketing and media industries thus compounding the problem.


I wholeheartedly agree with the preceding posters. Whilst not trusting banks and the energy sector the most immediate and potent enemy of consumers is the soft drinks industry who have infiltrated their way into schools and our lifestyle.

The most destructive part of their activity is that if you are drinking soft drinks you are not only drinking unhealthly but you are also unlikely to be drinking milk with its vital vitamins..

As to how the Americans warn of it:

Perhaps we need to engage in shock tactics to awaken people to the fact that sweetly flavoured caffeinated drinks are just designed to hook you. And if you start early enough you have them hooked for life. There is plenty of research on food addictions engendered in the womb.

A heavy tax on soft drinks would be a wonderful start.


All industries are profit-driven – that is their remit from shareholders. What we all have to be is better educated to deal with these industries – aware of healthy diets, the real costs of mobile phones, the cost of subscription TV, how to find the best energy deal and so on. In other words if we have limited funds we need to be much more savvy about how best to use them. Industry and service providers will always tempt you to buy more than you need.
As for the comment in the intro about mortgage repayments, these are the people who have benefitted greatly from the recession with such low interest rates. And as for banking not operating in our best interests, certainly their irresponsible lending and gambling was a root cause of the economic woes; however my experience of my own banking needs – operating a current account and savings – has been very satisfactory. I didn’t get involved in PPI, identity theft and card Insurance, endowment mortgages because I didn’t see them as worthwhile.
Sometimes we need to think harder about what we buy – do we understand it and do we really need it?


Absolutely right, Malcolm. I also tripped up on the reference to mortgage repayments – if anyone is struggling today then they had better start to do some very serious thinking about where they’re going to live and how they’re going to pay for it when interest rates do return to “normal”. It’s also worth bearing in mind that since property rents are nearly always used to repay the landlord’s mortgage there will be an impact there as well. I forecast a downsizing rush that might entice the financial services industry, in all its shady guises, into yet another form of exploitation.


Estate agents are the industry that I trust the least. They have a reputation for lying in order to manipulate a transaction.

I notice that they also quote their fees misleadingly. Instead of quoting their fee to sellers as “1.8%”, one estate agent misleadingly quoted it to me as “1.5% + VAT”. I pointed out that vendors of residential properties always have to pay VAT so it was misleading to exclude VAT from the quoted fee, and the response was “That’s the way everyone quotes it”. This could possibly be a breach of Article 1 of the Price Marking Order 2004 or Regulation 7(1)(a)(iii) of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.


NFH – I would have thought 1.5% + vat was clearer than 1.8% (if you know vat is payable then this might lead you to wonder whether vat needs to be added to the 1.8%). Particularly when buying from trade sources, vat is often excluded, but shown as a statement on the price list.

For untrustworthy “industries”, how about double glazing – inflated prices and big discounts “if you sign up today” – and builders who seem to lack any regulation yet involve you in spending very large sums of money.


Most consumers expect VAT to be included in prices. Not only is this commonplace but it is a legal requirement (unless the price is intended primarily for business customers). To avoid any confusion, the estate agent could have quoted “1.8% including VAT”.

The practice by double glazing salesmen to which you refer is actually banned as an unfair commercial practice by Schedule 1 Regulation 7 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.