Scots Consumer Champion Consumer Focus Scotland ‘stabbed in the back by Taxpayers Alliance’. CONTINUING my coverage on the possibly imminent demise of Consumer Focus & Consumer Focus Scotland at the hands of the Taxpayers Alliance with their campaign “Scrap Consumer Focus”, along with the scrapping of Consumer Direct & the Office of Fair Trading, the Consumer Action Group, a UK organisation which campaigns for customer rights, particularly for the recovery of unfair charges imposed by UK banks on their customers has issued a statement on their website regarding the impact on consumers of the loss of most of the consumer protection currently in existence in the UK.
Given the prospect of a distinct lack of consumer protection being forced upon us by right wing political interest groups, I would urge consumers who value their consumer rights & protections to read up on the Consumer Action Group and join in the group’s efforts to truly represent & campaign for UK consumers.
Consumer Action Group’s statement on the demise of Consumer Focus, Consumer Direct & the OFT : It seems that Consumer Focus, Consumer Direct and the OFT are likely to be abolished in an announcement to be made later next week. This is an astonishing piece of bad news for consumer rights. It will bring further difficulty to the lives of millions of ordinary citizens throughout the country. It will gladden the hearts of financial institutions and retailers of goods and services everywhere as they take the opportunity to reduce spending on customer service. It will also increase opportunities and incentives to scam innocent customers.
Is this what David Cameron means by his “Big Society”? The removal of all protections from his trusting electorate so that corporate jackals are free to prey on vulnerable victims. Who will be left to protect them? Well apparently the government proposes that consumers will have to rely on Trading Standards and on Citizen’s Advice. Will there be additional funding and will the funding be enough? Probably not.
Are Trading Standards and Citizen’s Advice up to the job? Are they suitable? Citizen’s Advice is a very decent organisation but they certainly don’t have a reputation for assisting consumers to challenge companies which try to deprive them of their rights. This is unlikely to change because it would mean that the entire mindset of Citizen’s Advice would need to be altered.
What about Trading Standards? Well for far too long, this organisation has not been directly accessible by the public. They do not have that culture. They are a specialist organisation which is geared up to carrying out investigations of routine malpractice by commercial organisations. However, they don’t deal with the sort of one off problems nor the vast range or the number of problems experienced everyday by British consumers.
Of course, even Consumer Direct has not been known for baring its teeth and “getting the job done” – so maybe no great loss there. The OFT – well frankly they are almost an embarrassment to consumer rights – especially since their inept handling of the Bank Charges test case. In fact the main impact of the expected announcement is to confirm to us all what we have always known – You’re on your own, Mate.
So who is left?
Well it looks like it is going to be down to the websites and of course that means the likes of The Consumer Action Group and Money Saving Expert. We’ll do our best but clearly there isn’t going to be much support from the people who should give it – the government. We are the Big Society – but Cameron clearly doesn’t seem to realise that the big commercial organisations have a different game plan and it’s You, the Consumer that they intending having for their lunch.