/ Money

What the new government must do for consumers

As the new Conservative government starts to take shape today, we believe that it must act swiftly to put consumers and their concerns at the heart of its agenda.

Our latest research shows that more people are starting to feel better about the economy but many are increasingly worried about public services, their pension and savings.

We believe that the new government must take swift action in its first 100 days.

Our top priorities for the government

–      Appoint a consumer minister to the Cabinet​ with the power to deal with issues ​across the whole consumer, competition and regulatory landscape, and ​who can drive through reforms across other government departments

–      introduce fairer energy prices to help you with your household bills

–      encourage savings so more people can become financially secure

–      put people at the heart of public services, for example by making complaints count.

Consumers must be at the heart of their plans

Making consumers more powerful is good for the economy and now is the time to make consumers central to the economic plan.

We found that three in 10 people now describe the economy as good, compared with just 8% two years ago. And just under half of people are happy with how much they earn.

But big changes are still needed.

What are your biggest concerns?

We found that six in 10 are worried about public spending cuts, making it the second highest area of concern, and half about the quality of public services.

More than half are worried about the value of their pension and 45% about how much savings they have.

And household costs are still high on people’s list of worries – more than half are worried about energy, fuel and food prices.

In the last Parliament, consumer issues were a high priority and, after pressure from Which?, the government took action in key areas such as banking, pensions and energy. We want to see this momentum continue.

Are you worried about your energy bills or the value of your pension? What are the issues that matter most to you?

Comments

I am concerned that Trading Standards is of little or no help to most consumers who report a problem. We need to invest in providing a better service.

It seems unlikely that there will be any improvement unless Which? takes action.

wev says:
8 May 2015

You forgot to mention the Advertising Standards Authority, wavechange

They don’t really do anything

I’m not too sure about this, wev. Have a look at the rulings on the ASA website and you will see examples where an investigation has taken place after a single complaint and a clear summary of the basis of each ruling.

On the other hand advertising if often based on what I regard as misrepresentation. Even children can see exaggerated claims. Larger companies seem to be adept at keeping within the boundaries of what they can get away with saying.

wev says:
11 May 2015

I’m afraid publishing rulings is all they can do. The ASA only works if advertisers obey the rulings and change misleading advertising. Where they refuse to cooperate, their name gets added to a list on ASA’s website and that’s it. No fines. No referal to Trading Standards. No money back for misled customers.

I would like to see all advertising vetted by the ASA before it can be used, thereby largely eliminating the risk of misleading customers. Obviously the companies should pay for this.

I appreciate that ASA does not have legal powers but I was under the impression that cases of non-compliance could be referred to Trading Standards.

Thought I am not happy about advertising it’s not as bad as having to put up with nuisance calls.

vetting amounts to censorship – something I am totally against. Laws and codes of conduct should be used to penalise those who infringe them. We need to recognise that many people are aware enough to see through advertising. We need to promote self-preservation! 🙂

So you are happy for companies to produce advertisements that do not comply with the law and profit from increased sales until action has been taken to get the advertisement withdrawn?

I would like this country run by whichever government has been elected and the influence of industry marginalised – as a high priority.

Maxxx says:
13 May 2015

I’m not sure how they work. I reported a sexist advert to them, the Wiltshire Farm Foods ad with Ronnie Corbett. A woman says, “It’s so simple, even a man can do it”, referring to her husband putting the ready meal in the microwave oven. Imagine if a man had said the same line? They said that the ad wasn’t sexist. Apparently, women have the right to say whatever they want as they can’t be sexist.

It’s called harmless humour. We are far too sensitive and politically correct (whatever that is). Time to lighten up and live cheerfully, not look for trouble everywhere. There is enough real trouble to worry about. 😀

Julie Hunt says:
14 May 2015

Local Authority funding has been decimated so they have had to strip back services they provide to the minimum, losing many that benefited people but are not statutory i.e. they are not required to provide. Losing staff [many of them highly experienced] means losing services.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Half the men are foolish, I just don’t know which half.

No, writing in to the Advertising Standards Authority has worked, a lot of ads have been challenged and taken down due to people being PRO-ACTIVE and letting them know what they think of an ad. I have done this x3 and eventually there were some changes. Ads about beauty products, ads focussing on women’s bodies to promote a product, and just cheesey using sexual suggestions, has all worked in getting ads taken down.

“Appoint a consumer minister to the Cabinet​ with the power to deal with issues ​across the whole consumer, competition and regulatory landscape, and ​who can drive through reforms across other government departments.” Good idea, and the best way to achieve that is to appoint an actual consumer to the ministerial position: someone who actually lives like people from a normal household and experiences the ups and downs of daily life, not some feathered-bedded, expenses-paid, comfort-cushioned home counties paradigm who has only breathed the rarefied air in the Westminster bubble.

The most important part of this suggestion is that the minister shoulld NOT be a politician! How good politicians are at subverting upstarts from the real world needs to be challenged by someone strong enough to resist pressure from these people , who only have their jobs because we voted for them! and as an aside what a sorry choice most of us had!!

: )

Normally entrenched interests will defeat radical change so I jhave no great hopes for such a white knight. There is also the valid argument that a lot of the time what is wonderful for “Consumers” is not good for companies and their “Employees” or for “Shareholders”. [who of course are consumers also].

As an example you could reduce the magazine subscription to Which? to provide better value for consumers but I do not see that happening. Every case has an argument.

I followed the Consumer Rights Bill in the hope that the new Act, which comes into force in October, would simplify and clarify my rights if I have a product fail outside the manufacturer’s warranty but in an unreasonably short time, given the life expectancy for similar products. Despite all the discussion, the consumer seems little further forward and I expect that retailers will continue to turn us away as soon as the warranty has expired. On the positive side, the Consumer Rights Act does cover digital rights, which was long overdue.

A lot of people are not prepared to pay a full subscription to buy WHICH magazine. Would WHICH consider a compromise whereby some subscribers (on a cheaper rate) have restricted access to a given number of articles on the web or be restricted to accessing the web for a given number of days? If this offer was made to the members of the larger trade unions, it could result in vastly increased membership and a large increase in income for WHICH. It could also give this consumer body more authority when dealing with future governments and large companies.

Compared to similar organisations in Europe , the USA , and Australia Which? is rather expensive and whilst there is some good stuff done there very much ought to be on an income of £80 million.

The idea of a reduced rate would seem sensible for bulk buying. Perhaps every school staffroom should have a copy for them to work examples into lessons! There is the Manchester based “Ethical Consumer” which is £30 a year which does quite in depth features. Currently the firms behind the various coffee shop chains in the UK and their policies on various matters.

I think we could do with a ‘Junior Which?’. Those in marketing target kids, so I reckon it is never too early to make young people aware of how they are being exploited. One of the reasons for raising awareness of consumer affairs in young people is that they can help educate their parents.

When I went into the 6th form (around 1967), there was a half price offer on New Scientist magazine and I shared a copy with one of my friends, which made it cheaper. I’m still a subscriber, 48 years later.

To bring this back on topic, perhaps Which? should be working with government to produce educational resources. Perhaps delivery via YouTube is the way to go.

Given that YouTube is owned by the well-known tax-payer Google perhaps using Vimeo [as used by the White House] would be socially far far more acceptable.way of screening information.

Which? already has an arrangement with a sister company Pricerunner since 2007/8 so it is not a novel idea. Unfortunately I have no details adverse or otherwise on their tax status.

OK – Hopefully the government would choose a politically correct online video delivery service. Good point.

Hi folks, thanks for your suggestions on getting more subscribers. I’ll forward them to our marketing team! If you have any other suggestions, feel free to use our Contact Us form: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

I know you’ve started moving back on topic, but just a friendly nod to continue doing so 🙂

wev says:
11 May 2015

Since you’re here, Patrick, and you’re one of Which’s technology editors, what’s your opinion on the news that ssd solid state drives loose their data after weeks without power?

Is that covered by the sale of goods act? Should it be mentioned on adverts for ssd drives?

That’s an interesting one wev – I’ll forward that to our technology team. Any off-topic things, please email them to us. We’re always listening. 🙂

Patrick – I note your suggestions on where to send queries etc.

With the advent of the Forum for Which? Subscribers [apparently November 2014] is that not also a useful resource as it provides specific areas for comments so that subscribers can see what other subscribers are suggesting and see the responses from staff.

http://member.community.which.co.uk/

SO anything from about Which? online offering , or campaigns, or governance , or membership can be raised there in “public” for discussion. The major difference is of course unlike Conversations any subscriber can start a topic.

That’s true, members can go there for things related to their Which? membership. Of course, I’d love for you to stick around here to discuss consumer issues with other members and consumers.

We’re also working on improvements to Which? Convo to make it even better. Watch this space and we’ll be asking for your help soon.

wev says:
12 May 2015

Is one of these improvements going to be us being able to send private messages to Which staff?

Don’t worry Wev, a post is on the way where you can give us all the feedback you’d like on the site and what features you’d like to see.

Let’s please try and get back on topic – what issues do you want the new Government to tackle over the next five years?

Patrick, it is often the case when a conversation can reach an interesting and informative depth that it can veer off topic for a while which is perfectly understandable, but it is patently obvious that a topic can also be ‘sabotaged’ by certain commenters to air a particular grievance which is entirely unrelated and can break up the theme of that particular convo and which is a little frustrating and unproductive to say the least and is the reason why I am airing a particular grievance about particular grievances!!!

PS I have completed the online questionnaire which I hope will help to improve Which? Convo.

I would greatly welcome a reduction in Which? magazine price as I don’t know how much longer I will be able to afford it. I value the information and the website, but a great deal of the contents of the magazine does not apply to me in any way, although I still have to pay for it!

Perhaps Which? could charge to download particular articles and reports you wanted from their website.

This has always been the problem with Which? magazine. As time goes by the number of articles and test reports of particular interest to an individual does decrease [or they disappear into a parallel, additional subscription, magazine!]. I think most public libraries have Which? magazines available in the reference section but I think Malcolm’s idea is a good one. Modern technology enables on-line access to content categories in a way never before possible and so long as the rates are affordable [there could be bundle prices for self-selected categories, or pay-as-you-go for download on demand] it would extend Which?’s reach for the benefit of consumerism generally.

Afternoon all – Thanks for your suggestion concerning one-off payments for Which? reports.

A couple of years ago, as a result of public interest in downloadable reports, we did launch a service called the Which? Digital Store, where a selection of reviews and guides were directly available for purchase without a membership.

However, the store didn’t prove as successful as we’d expected and as such it turned out that it wasn’t viable for us to continue with it.

Our Commercial and Marketing teams continue to consider the suggestions so I’ve passed the comments on.

Also as a reminder, can we steer back on topic please 🙂

Bring back the days of giving pocket money as this teaches you if you haven’t got the money you either save. Work doing odd jobs for extra or simply did with out It may be HARSH but you will be grateful in future years

In anticipation of the change I hope Which? will produce a large primer on what the changes are and give many “worked” examples to give a flavour of where we should be standing fast on our rights.

Legislation, such as the Consumer Rights Act, is of little use to individuals unless the means are there to allow us to make use of its provisions. Which? would do consumers a great service with many of their problems if it helped provide these means – through helping more test-cases follow legitimate complaints through to a conclusion, to publicise consumers rights, helping through Which Legal? and, I believe importantly, using the requirement of quality and durability in the act far more proactively. Consumers need to know what the reasonable fault-free life of a product should be to allow them to approach retailers with assurance and, if necessary, to give courts information upon which an “impartial person” can make a fair decision.

Which? has been very reticent on this topic but to me it seems key to fairer treatment of consumers. If I have this all wrong Which?, please says so. But otherwise I urge you to devote some resources to dealing with it.

john crane says:
10 May 2015

Re ‘Equitable life’
For over 14 years EMAG (Equitable members action group) have been campaigning for those of us who prudently saved for their retirement, however due to government miss management in dealing with Equitable life, we were only awarded 22% of what we had saved and the Chancellor has not acted on the directives given him by the investigating Ombudsman or the European Commission.

This represents over 1 million savers but affects over 3 million people (including their families)
I find it hard to have confidence in a government and Chancellor who abandons prudent ordinary hard working people, who were responding to Government advice to save for the future and it sends out a message that ‘why bother to save’ !! spend everything and let the Government bear the costs later.

Extra pressure from WHICH could make a huge difference to at least 5% of our population as we are still owed 78% of what we saved.

PS, Thank you for your sterling work.

Hi John, thanks for your post – We believe it’s quite late in the process for determining compensation, but our experts would be delighted to have a chat with you about this. If so, you can send your current concerns through our “Contact us” form:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us/

We look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Working through the minefield of unaddressed consumer issues leaves one in no doubt about the enormous and unenviable task the appointment of a Consumer Minister would have to take on board.

The new conservative majority government might elect to prioritise and centre their attention on the economy, which was at the core and forefront of their ideological convictions and beliefs during the recent election, but at the same time, opposition parties, or preferably intervention by an unbiased and impartial consumer body such as Which? or an Ombudsman and regulator with no particular political affiliation would be a just and more acceptable way forward. A Consumer Minister would be expected to ensure a fair and unbiased equitable distribution of wealth but his/her political beliefs might well prejudice any parliamentary debate and consequently any resulting outcome.

With 12 billion welfare cuts now promised and with no definitive explanation as to where they will be made, some form of regulation is now, more than ever, called for to ensure the sick and genuine needy will not suffer as a result and such things as food banks in the UK will no longer be deemed necessary.

Oooops……….. should read “£12 billion welfare cuts”

Richard, I cannot get to “our latest research” from the link in the introduction. Is it me or a fault?

Found the problem – works on Google chrome but not IE9.

You would be far better using Google Chrome and Firefox, Malcolm. Both have their advantages. IE is being phased out by Microsoft, and not before time. In election terms, it lost its deposit.

Old habits die hard, wavechange. You get used to the way one works and then have to re-learn another. I suppose like these conversations it keeps our brains from atrophying.

Well malcolm if you are using IE9 you may also be using Bing – not necessarily a good thing.

http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/software/internet-security/1403095/bing-ads-link-to-adware-infested-internet-explorer-as-sponsored?

Malcolm and many others probably has Internet Explorer because we had to wait for the EU to get rid of this as a pre-installed browser on new computers, giving home users the option to choose their browser(s). I don’t know why Apple has got away with selling computers with Safari pre-installed as the only browser. It’s a fast Webkit browser like Google Chrome, but we should have a choice.

I believe that our government should pay more attention to IT matters, in the interest of consumers.

The previous government has paid for continued support for Windows XP, despite the fact that the date of withdrawal of support has been known for many years.

Using the free Opera browser software you can do wonders for the European software industry by supporting a Norwegian firm. It is the 4 or 5th most used browser in the world with several hundred million users. Works on all operating systems.

Being non-American it has its attractions ; though Google is its default search engine and the revenue from that does support Opera the company..

dieseltaylor, I don’t use Bing – you may be pleased to know – didn’t even know what it was for! And you may also be relieved to know that I have changed my default browser to Google Chrome. I don’t suppose that is as newsworthy as the cabinet appointments though. Who will be the new Consumer Affairs Minister (or Ministeress)?

Thanks for the alert Malcolm, I’ll let our devs know so they can look into this.

I can see you’re each flirting with the topic, but I really need you (my super regulars!) to be bastions for our community guidelines and show others the way 🙂

What do you want from the new Government?

Patrick, sorry but this will be a trite reply. My priority is to get our economy healthier – invest in industry and academic research and development, encourage long-term investment not short term speculation, train our young people in proper skills (not media studies, sports science or golf-course design) so we can take on China, India and other booming economies. When we have the income from this we can fund better public services and infrastructure.

Oh, and stop using so many consultants. Either employ properly-trained experts directly or use the resources of the universities we support.

Oh, and put real people with real experience into jobs in parliament and the civil service – not career civil servants and politicians who haven’t lived in the real world.

Oh and…………………………….dream on 😀

As consumers we need better and accessible protection. We need a properly resourced and funded Trading Standards organisation to which individuals can take complaints – not through CAB – and from whom they can expect action. Funding? We need it to operate at local level, as now, and as traders benefit from our custom simply add a levy to their local business rates. We also need it to be coordinated nationally so that complaints about products sold nationally can be aggregated and acted upon. That needs to be government funded.

Having already made a comment about the need for investment in Trading Standards, we are very much in agreement. However I support the current procedure whereby contact is made via CAB. Callers need to be directed to the most appropriate service, so going via CAB helps ensure that Trading Standards does not receive calls that it cannot help with. CAB is acting like triage in a hospital does to direct individual cases to the appropriate source of help.

I’m not sure CAB has the resources or competence – not apparently doing well on pension reforms. I prefer to use my judgement to find who I should report problems to, and I then prefer to have direct dealings with them so matters can be properly followed through. Let’s treat UK consumers as grown ups who are capable of dealing with problems, given the right resources to approach.

It is normal practice for calls to be screened before being routed to the relevant department/service, both in the private and public sectors. It makes better use of specialists’ time. The fact that the practice is widely used is, I believe, evidence of a need to establish who can best deal with a problem.

My experience with CAB has been good, though I cannot say that I have had cause to use it very often.

wev says:
11 May 2015

Richard Lloyd, have you changed your mind on Market Research calls? Do you still believe they should be opt out instead of opt in? The Telephone Preference Service doesn’t prevent nuisance calls and doesn’t do anything for market research calls anyway.

Will you be campaigning for stronger rules on Online Behavioural Advertising and tracking cookies?

I did not know that you could opt out of market research calls, wev. I would be happy to participate in market research on selected topic but not as a result of an unsolicited phone call.

Which claims to represent the interests of consumers yet they themselves fall far short of the standards they expect from manufacturers and service providers. Just two examples:

Which Legal website had the following prominent statement on their homepage:
“For an annual fee of £88 we offer unlimited access to our lawyers for you and your entire household. Our lawyers, will give you individual, jargon-free advice and step-by-step guidance to help you win your case”.
In fact subscribers are put through to ‘specialist advisers’ who at no stage stated they were not lawyers. On pointing out this that statement contravened ASA rules they amended their wording within 24 hours.

Which are very fond of criticising companies (especially utility companies) that do not have an established complaints procedure published on their website and fail to publish details of complaints they have received apart from their mortgage service. In fact Which publish no details of complaints they receive regarding their “raison d’etre”, those involving tests on consumer products and their results. They admit this but say: “At this moment in time, we do not intend to separate out and publish complaints that relate to Which? product reviews, but this may change in future”. Can you imagine what Which would say if they received a similar reply from British Gas?

A classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Regarding my last post the comment regarding complaints about Which did not make it clear that they publish no details of complaints they themselves receive APART from their own mortgage service.

wev says:
12 May 2015

Which also has a very laid back approach to some things, like nuisance calls, the collection and sale of personal information, online behavioural ads and tracking cookies.

Thanks very much for sharing your concerns with us Mike. I’ve had a chat with some others here and I can share that we will start to publish more information on our complaints this year.

We take the feedback we get from our members very seriously and are keen to work with you to make improvements where we can. Thanks again.

” Making consumers more powerful is good for the economy and now is the time to make consumers central to the economic plan.”
Richard Lloyd Which? Conversations

Honestly I despair at statements here sometimes. The statement I quote seems open to query its hard to know where to begin. But lets see if we can tease out some sense ….

Make consumers more powerful … in what sense powerful?
How is it good for the economy if they are in some way more powerful?

” Now is the time to make consumers central to the economic plan” – Central to what economic plan? And does not the world economy have a rather more bearing on any economic plan? And who are these consumers anyway/? Are they the same people as workers , the unemployed , pensioners and investors.?

I have checked the rest of the Conversation but it does not really answer any of my queries as to meaning. The Consumers’ Association [Which?] has got a role to play but now and then it seems to lose touch with real problems and just go for a wish-list to sling at Government or entire industries.

I have no problem with looking at heating costs but Which? has done absolutely nothing on the comparatively easy areas of external cladding, super efficient double glazing, how thermally efficient are shutters and curtains, uses of thermal imaging, etc etc where the technology is comparatively new and subscribers , and a lot of the building trade, are ignorant.

If Which? does not provide guidance what other independent bodies have the subscriber base to write to and provide the fruits of their research? Who knows it might provide forums for discussion and organise bulk buying.

Keeping warm in winter is going to be a continuing problem and given that our energy is based on external supply I do think that some practical education may be more useful than relying solely on petitions and Government action.

I am not suggesting that if Whch? did produce reports as I suggested tomorrow that there would be some immediate change however with the options explained people could plan into the next few years what they would like done to their property with some idea as to costs and benefits. Beats relying on salesmen.

PS I looked at the survey linked but saw no reference to sample size and who done by.
I am also concerned at the detail of political party labels given that Which? is apolitical.

I would like our new government to review the effectiveness of the regulators such as Ofgem and Ofcom.

Why do we still have separate standing charges on our energy bills, which mean that those who have to choose between heating and eating are subsidising high energy users?

Why is any company allowed to make unsolicited phone calls to individuals without their consent?

we have standing charges because there a costs that are the same for all consumers, large or small, that need to be paid. I don’t want to pay twice as much to have my meter read, towards smart meters, to have my bill prepared, as someone else just because I am unfortunate enough in having to use more energy than them.
Ofgem should be looking at these fixed costs to ensure they are fair and minimal, and also looking at all the costs heaped on your bill – including regulatory and other government imposed costs that amount to taxes that are then subject to vat.
Actual energy is only half your bill. Make our bills simple – charge for raw energy, its distribution and administration and shift the other costs elsewhere.

wev says:
13 May 2015

I’d like the old Consumer Direct website to be brought back. It had a lot of information, but it was closed down. The replacement Direct.gov website is terrible.

Recruit more Trading Standards staff and encourage Trading Standards branches to provide more drop in services. Provide a way for Trading Standards to get consumer’s money returned from traders. Let everyone contact Trading Standards directly instead of through the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Add a mention in the new Consumer law about paid for software. If found to be buggy, the software company must fix the bugs as soon as possible or give a refund. For computer games, the company should also give a refund if a gamer’s experience is affected by cheaters, bug exploiters and money farmers.

Make Market Research calls and cold calls opt in.

Cut Stamp Duty for share purchases with a value under £30000 to 0.25% or 0%

wev says:
13 May 2015

Make websites disclose what their advertisers are going to do with the personal information they collect about you, such as sell it on to other companies. Make websites provide visitors with a full list of their tracking cookies, tracking flash adverts and online behavioural adverts.

Stop selling the electoral roll.

There are 2 versions of the electoral roll – one is public and is used by companies. The other is private and is not available to companies. If you wish your name to be kept private, you can notify your local authority to change your status.

wev says:
13 May 2015

If you go to thinkjessica.com and read it, you’ll see some people can’t do that.

Please can we complete metrication? We are now 40 years behind schedule.

My local supermarket stocks milk in 1.136 litre containers. I have never seen a metric-only tape measure in any shop.

wev says:
13 May 2015

I’d like the Financial Ombudsman to be looked at, because of Isbjorn’s bad experience when his Land Rover stopped working.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/section-75-legal-rights-credit-card-claim-backs/comment-page-1/#comment-1388965

He said the Adjudicator ignored what he said and gave a misrepresentative report to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman then made a weak judgement so that other Land Rover owners wouldn’t be able to claim compensation. The Ombudsman team leader told him over the phone that decisions were only made to keep to the 50% ratio, and it didn’t matter if he was right and should have got his money back.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/section-75-legal-rights-credit-card-claim-backs/comment-page-1/#comment-1388987

He’s now lost £11000 on the value of his car.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/section-75-legal-rights-credit-card-claim-backs/comment-page-1/#comment-1390109

colin clarke says:
13 May 2015

When there are more than one Tariff available from a energy prices from one company it should based on the actual last 12 bills should show the customer the best & cheapest Tariffs in full for there energy use so the customer can the tariff their want & the benefit of one tariff against another ok

I have been looking in the cabinet to see if I could find a new minister for consumer affairs as requested by Which?. I even looked behind the curtains and underneath the table but there is no sign of such an office-holder. There are various Lords High Everything Else and people who are without a portfolio but nobody with “Consumers” on the back of their tee-shirt. I thought for a moment that the Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime [one Karen Bradley, not in the cabinet] might be a possibility but it seems not – although she does have responsibility among a rag-bag of other things for cyber crime and security, and for fraud and asset recovery. Under the long-term economic plan, it is the duty of the hard-working people of this nation to keep calm and carry on spending, trusting to providence that corporate businesses will treat us fairly at all times. Without a dedicated minister for our cause we must assume that every single Member of Parliament is our own personal consumer minister and we shall therefore have to pass all our problems to them.

No news on the Government website John. The post was “Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs”. I’m not clear how the two responsibilities work together. Be nice if we just had a minister to look after consumers.

Perhaps the previous position was a consequence of coalition. No call for it now presumably. “Employment Relations” has also gone.

The previous holders listed are from 2010 and were all Lib Dems. So you are probably right John. Which? – what do you know about replacing the role?

It isn’t going to happen. This is a significant direction indicator.

Roads
Set a high standard for mending potholes that must be adhered to i.e. cleaning out hole, using a glue before packing in tarmac, then sealing hole. Would save councils a lot of money in repairs and car damage claims.
Roadworks.
Why do they take so long and why can there be several lots going on in the same area at the same time? If roadworks are necessary, put in the effort to complete them quickly one at a time with minimal disruption.

Also on roads:
BAN spraying and gritting.

Councils are under the false impression it extends the life of road surfaces so saves money.

But they seem to ignore the problems and additional costs incurred by spraying and gritting:

a) The cost of car damage. (We had to claim for a new windscreen when it was cracked by flying grit).

b) When it rains the loose grit is washed into drains causing roads to flood. What is the cost of all the time wasted by many repeat visits of council workers to clear them every time it rains?

c) Loose grit sticks to tyres and breaks up weak road surfaces resulting in more potholes. So more cost repairing them.

d) Tyres flick grit onto pavements making them dangerous to walk on so could result in claims for compensation.

e) Loose grit is could cause serious injury if a child was hit in the eye.

So stop councils wasting money on spraying and gritting. Make them resurface roads properly and it will save them money in the long run and improve the condition of our roads.

'Erbert says:
13 May 2015

When people / politicians talk about fair deals on energy prices oil or solid fuel users are left out. We are subject to the same sort of price rises as you see on car fuel prices but nobody seems to care about that at all. OK at the moment things are good on oil, but in 6 months time it’ll probably go from an Approx £375 bill for a fill back to the £600 fill it was a year ago.
Why as diesel prices have come down haven’t postage and other carrier prices dropped too?

Isorene says:
13 May 2015

I demand fair energy prices; most families are struggling to pay their bills and keep food on the table at the same time, while when energy prices go down, the companies do not pass those savings to their customers, they keep it for their CEO’s, which, by the way, are millionaires already, leaving the country in the cold, struggling badly to make ends meet.