The Which? Consumer Agenda and what it means for you

Consumer Agenda

We are working tirelessly in the run up to the general election to ensure consumer rights are at the heart of the debate. That’s why, today, we have published the Which? Consumer Agenda for Government.

On 8 June, voters across the country go to the polls to elect their local MP and ultimately the next government. Very soon the political parties will begin to set out their agenda for voters and the issues that they will seek a mandate on for the next five years.

Today we have published our “Consumer Agenda for Government” urging all political parties to use the forthcoming election to address critical consumer issues, which are the source of many of the problems facing people across the country.

The consumer’s voice

Consumer spending accounts for more than 60% of the economy, equal to £100bn a month. Maintaining consumer confidence is critical to the success of the UK economy. To ensure that we have a thriving economy, all parties must make sure that the voice of consumers is heard. The election presents a big opportunity for all parties to address these issues directly and to maintain consumer confidence in the years ahead.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about how the energy, banking, telecoms and rail markets are working for them. These are issues I know we debate at length here on Which? Conversation. As the election was called we asked which consumer issues the next Government should prioritise, people said that they want action on social care, energy prices and financial fraud and scams.

In an online poll between 19 and 20 April 2017 2,130 were asked to provide up to three consumer issues they believe the government should prioritise next, out of a prompted list of ten issues. Here are the results.

Consumer issues survey 2017

Your priorities are our priorities

On social care, finding a care home often comes at a distressing time and big questions have been raised about whether care homes are treating their residents fairly. We want all the political parties to commit to action so that older people receive the high quality of care they deserve.

Julius told us:

‘Choosing a care home can be fraught with difficulties – especially for lay people. There are so many different things that have to be taken into account. It is very easy to forget to ask questions about some aspects of a care home’s services.’

On energy, it is clear that the sector is still not working with millions of customers paying significantly over the odds. The next government should set out its position on competition in the energy market and any intervention must not result in prices overall going up or undermining improvements in customer service.

Finally, with fraud now the most common crime in the country, all parties should commit to an ambitious agenda for tackling scams. This should include action to improve how customer data is kept safe as well as making sure that financial institutions do more to protect ​consumers from ​bank ​transfer scams.

Read the full consumer agenda for government and find out more about the issues we’re highlighting:

Which? is pressing all parties to set out an agenda to reform markets so they work better for consumers, ensure consumers’ concerns are heard in company boardrooms, and enhance our consumer rights as we leave the EU.


A countries economy is the result of the outgoings and incomings of the population as thats where money is generated . Now if the population has a large percentage of unemployed and poor they are obviously in the governments eyes a burden on the State , being unable to add significantly to the economy by buying produce that gains a profit for a company. Now if that company exports its profits to another country , it means this country is subsidizing a foreign country. While tax dodging exists in this country and our wealth is sent “off-shore ” then the rich get richer and the poor poorer while the National Debt builds up to massive amounts , even in interest payments just causing more of a downward spiral . This country is now run as a service industry economy dictated by the City who dont want that to change , along with the Bankers , UK citizens are on low wages / dead end jobs serving the rich and still the cry is -sell off what is left of British owned industry to foreigners , so its obvious most people in this country care only for the $$$$$ . The government doesn’t want industry to develop as that would mean the working class actually had some power-naughty-naughty , so this is how this country will stay , a bankers and foreign money dealing country and not an industrialised and profit making country that profits its citizens not just the City . I think its a total injustice that our young people are being disgracefully let down for the sake of the Big Buck. Its funny , I am old and shouldn’t bother about things like this but even in old age I cant stop the burning desire inside of me to see this country have high employment, houses for all, food on the table and a happy people but what we have in reality is the highest young male suicides rates in generations due to no vision-no future for young people. Also a “I am all right Jack attitude.

Patrick Taylor says:
29 April 2017

” Consumer spending accounts for more than 60% of the economy, equal to £100bn a month”

A more fatuous use of statistics is hard to imagine. The entire nation are consumers and the statement leavings hanging in the air the obvious point that where do us consumers get the money from and the answer must be from wages or investments.

Having read the screed, and having wondered at the relevance and benefit of publishing amidst an election, all I can say is it is a list of what worries people and Which? asking for the Government to do something.

Unfortunately there are no ideas and this is where I think Which? and its leading lights reveal a weakness in what it does. It is all very well and good to talk of these big problems to be solved but this charity is meant to be about product and naming and shaming. It is also about educating.

Which? could be and should be awarding Shoddy Awards to some of the countries largest builders. But it does not. It sells mortgages instead. There is not a whisper in its pages about the problems thousands of people have with shoddily built new properties or about the gagging clauses that NHBC utilise.

So why has this scandal gone unreported for the last decade in Europe’s largest consumer group?

Why has there been no articles of those white label services were a famous name sells it’s image /reputation to people who believe, wrongly, that the trusted name actually has anything to do with the product they are signing up to.

And when your claim for, say legal services is rejected, yet barristers agree the claim has merit where do you turn to when the famous name say it is not their product , not their problem?

I think Which? has plenty of areas where it could be active, stating the obvious to the politicians in the midst of an election, seems rather inadequate.


Although the full version is fair enough the big omission is no mention of applying the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to Politicians and their manifestos. This is a missed opportunity, I feel.

If we treat MPs as service providers and examine the CRA’s critical aspects we find

* The MP must perform the service with reasonable care and skill.
* Information that is spoken or written is binding where the voter relies on it.
* Where the price is not agreed beforehand, the service must be provided for a reasonable price.
* Unless a particular timescale for performing the service is set out or agreed, the service must be carried out in a reasonable time.

The big question is what happens if they default on their promises. Well, the CRA says

In circumstances where the repeat performance is impossible, or can’t be done within a reasonable time or without causing significant inconvenience, you can claim a price reduction. Depending on how severe the failings are, this could be up to 100% of the cost, and the MP should refund you within 14 days of agreeing that you’re entitled to a refund.

Following this logic if the MPs fail to do their jobs then we demand their salaries back.

Of course, defining terms like ‘Reasonable’, ‘Price’ and, particularly in the case of politicians, ‘skill and care’ will keep the courts busy for a while, but the simple fact is that the politicians whom we elect can affect our lives far more than the odd pyrographic tumble dryer or occasional daylight robbery bank charges.

S Kay says:
9 May 2017

Agree with you totally, but I would add that an MP should 1) have only one full time job ie as MP for their constituents. They should not cherry pick additional small hour/highly paid ‘consulting’ positions. As this could surely be seen as a conflict of interests. 2) If there are hints of criminal or underhand activities, pay should be stopped immediately pending enquiry – this should expedite bringing such matters to court, so that names can be cleared or the MP removed & replaced swiftly without ado


I agree that social care should be a priority. In addition to the elderly, I think we should make adequate provisions for everyone who is not in the fortunate position of being able to have a well paid job.

If the government can work to deliver fairer energy prices, that will be a good thing, even though it is likely to mean that those of us who bother to shop around will end up paying a bit more, because those who either can’t or won’t end up paying a bit less.

Whilst financial institutions could do a lot more to investigate and prevent fraud, as consumers, us getting hoodwinked is a common cause failure in many scams. We probably all need to learn to be more “streetwise” on the internet and when (if?) we get cold called. Ultimately, we could leave our banks and insurers to bail us out from our mistakes, but they’ll only do that if, one way or another, we pay them for that service. In this case, prevention is better than the cure. As an educational charity, Which? should be in a good position to train consumers to make fewer mistakes and thus become less vulnerable to fraud.

Claire says:
29 April 2017

I agree


Air Purifiers

I want to buy a new air purifier. My old one has gone noisy, I have dismantled and cleaned the fan, but it made little difference. It also needs a new roll of expensive filters so I would rather put the money towards a new one.

So I looked at Which? reviews. ☹

8 air purifiers have been reviewed, 4 of the machines launched over 2 years before.

The first thing I want to know is if the machine will handle the size of my largish room it is intended for but this information is missing so is most of the other information I would like to know. There is very little useful information provided in your reviews.

Partly based on my experience with my existing air purifier, here are a few features that could be mentioned:
Mode settings: anti-pollen, relax, ioniser, odours, turbo, night
Machine indicators: dust/odour levels, filter needs changing/cleaning, dust sensor needs cleaning,
Noise level on auto mode that the machine would normally be left on.
Filters: how often do they need changing or cleaning, how many are included in purchase, cost of replacement filters, any dust leakage into machine internals. Pictures of filter changing would be a bonus.
What allergens does the machine clean: Cat, Cockroach, Dog, Fungi, House Dust Mite, House Dust Mite Debris, Latex, Mould, Pet Dander, Pollen, Silkworm,
What irritants does the machine clean: Bacteria, Cigarette Smoke, Formaldehyde, TVOC, VOC’S, Virus

From Which? website on the Philips best buy machine:
This machine doesn’t come with a remote control, and you can’t set it using an app on your phone, which is unusual for such a top-spec purifier. / smartphone controls would be a nice touch for a machine at this price. Are you serious? My current air purifier is over 12 years old and came with a remote control that still works. How long would an app work, 2 years maybe? I want a dedicated remote control that will hopefully work for as long as the machine not an app that will be out of date within a couple of years.

Who decides what machines will be tested? AllergyUK list machines that have been reviewed or tested and approved by Allergy Research but no testing information is available. Many of these machines are from specialist companies and as they tend to be more expensive, I would like to see proper test results for them. Which? would do well to work with the likes of Allergy UK and Allergy Research to provide comprehensive and useful reviews.

Someone recently mentioned The Healthy House who have specialised in relieving allergies since 1991 and perhaps Which? should compare their guides to air purifiers with that of The Healthy House. Interestingly, only 2 of their 47 air purifiers have been reviewed by Which? of which one is their ‘Don’t Buy’ that claims to capture up to 99.9% of particles in the air but Which? describe as a very poor air purifier.

So come on Which?, let’s have some proper investigative, informative reviews that enable us to make real purchasing decisions.