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Drivers Ripped Off by Council Parking Machines

Apr 29, 2014

Apart from high parking charges, many councils cream money off motorists by operating machines that do not give change
Parking MetersThe RAC Foundation has published figures showing that many local authorities across the UK regard motorists as little more than cash cows. While consumers have long complained about the high cost of parking charges, especially in town centres, it seems that councils using old-style coin-operated pay machines are also generating vast amounts of money from overpayments.

In Cornwall alone, overpayments represent an additional 2.7% tip for the county council over two years. With many of the authorities concerned making substantial profits from charging for parking, the RAC Foundation suggests that some of this money should be spent upgrading old machines to ensure that drivers can pay the exact amount, either in coins or by use of cashless systems.
Cornwall Council reaped almost £650,000 in overpayments in just two years

Police Shut Down 2,500 Sites Selling Rip-off Goods

Apr 28, 2014

Since its September launch, Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has been active in fight to protect consumers from counterfeit goods and non-delivered orders

Fake WebsitesThe police intellectual property crime (PIPCU) was only set up in September, but figures released today show that it has been incredibly effective in dealing with abuses of intellectual property, in other words counterfeiting. Under the World Intellectual Property Day exercise, the unit has revealed that it has suspended the activities of over 2,500 websites, many of which have been selling cheap rip-off copies of designer brands.

In some cases, consumers were duped into buying goods that they thought were the originals, but then received low-quality but high-cost products. Some consumers received goods that turned out to be dangerous. In other cases, the goods they ordered never arrived at all. However, for many, this has not been the end of the story with the fraudsters then using their financial details to commit further crimes.

Police collaborating with designer brands and other agencies to protect consumers

Consumers Applying for a Mortgage Should Prepare for Intrusive Questions

Apr 26, 2014

New regulations on affordability checks effective from Today, leaving no area of private life safe from analysis

Mortgage Affordability CheckNew guidelines that come into force tomorrow are designed to protect consumers from taking out mortgages that they cannot afford to repay. The changes which have resulted from the lax pre-crisis system that allowed consumers to get mortgages that they could not afford long-term. However, while it is welcome that the regulators have made moves to boost consumer protection, the new guidelines that lenders are imposing will see borrowers questioned about all aspects of their expenditure. There have even been reports of banks that have already adopted the revised model inquiring about if couples have been trying to have children, which some consumers have found intrusive and disturbing.

 In addition, even those who currently have a mortgage will face detailed examination to see if they could withstand interest rate rises of anywhere between 1% and 4%. Therefore, potential borrowers have to be prepared to have every aspect of their lives examined in detailed interviews.

No Longer a Joke Car! Skoda Scoops Top Spots in Customer Satisfaction Awards

Apr 24, 2014

Skoda Yeti named top car by UK consumers, due to reliability, build quality and running costs, while luxury car makers other than BMW fail to make the top ten

SkodaThe 2014 Auto Express Driver Power survey of over 50,000 UK car owners has given a resounding thumbs-up to Skoda. For many years the butt of jokes, the Czech car maker has proven that a high price tag is not necessarily indicative of quality or reliability.

Consumers ranked the Skoda Yeti, Citigo and Superb as being the best three cars to own, beating luxury car manufacturer BMW’s 5 Series into fourth place. While BMW’s 1 Series took eight place, no other luxury brand featured in the top ten, with two Kias, the Toyota Prius, the Renault Captur and the UK-built MG6 taking the remaining slots, though not in that order. All ten cars achieved customer satisfaction ratings in excess of 90%, in line with a general trend of increasing consumer satisfaction with their cars.

Range Rover Sport MkI achieved worst individual customer satisfaction score for high running costs

One in Three Consumers Claims Cost Prohibits Healthy Eating

Apr 23, 2014

British Heart Foundation concerned at number of consumers who fail to buy fruit or veg, putting lives at risk
BHF FruitThe British Heart Foundation (BHF) is reported to be deeply concerned about the health risks faced by those who struggle to afford fresh fruit and vegetables. A recent survey conducted by the charity discovered that 39% of consumers had to disregard the health benefits of eating fresh produce when doing their weekly shopping, simply because of the cost factor.

The charity is worried that consumers are turning to convenience and processed foods, simply to make ends meet. It has recommended that shoppers consider tinned and frozen foods as a lower-cost alternative to fresh food.
Two-thirds of consumers want to eat more healthily
The survey has revealed that while two out of three consumers reported that they wanted to eat healthily, half of these respondents complained that the cost of buying healthier items like fresh fruit made it difficult for them to do so.

CEBR Suggests Households Will Pocket an Extra £600 by Election

Apr 22, 2014

Study indicates that pay will rise by 1.5% in real terms by next year, allowing chancellor to cut taxes in next budget

Growth ForecastA new report published by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) suggests that the worst is well and truly over for hard-pressed consumers. The rate of recovery in the economy is set to finally impact positively on householders, with wages rising above inflation, and the prospect of tax cuts before the May 2015 election. Incredibly, it seems that disposable incomes could have risen by 4% by then compared with 2010, while GDP could have risen by as much as 9%. If CEBR figures are correct, this will come as massive relief to consumers, but will leave Labour’s economic policy team in a difficult situation in the lead-up to the election.

1.5% increase in wages in real terms could give average consumer an extra £390 per year
According to the CEBR report, the effect of average wage increases outstripping inflation will continue, growing to a rate of 1.5% by the election. This alone could give the average consumer an extra £390 per year. However, the forecaster further indicates that the chancellor George Osborne will be well positioned to make some £7bn-worth of tax cuts next year. This could give consumers an extra £200, boosting the average family income by some £600 overall.

Shocking 1,000+ Preventable Deaths Monthly in NHS Hospitals!

Apr 22, 2014

Kidney failure kills thousands of patients annually due to thirst and poor care

Patient CareA report commissioned by the NHS has drawn a bleak and shocking picture of the care that patients in NHS hospitals can expect. The study has discovered that between 15,000 and 40,000 consumers die from kidney failure needlessly each year. One of the most shocking aspects of the situation is that many of these patients are simply dehydrated, and are just left to die of thirst.  Although many of the patients concerned could already be suffering from kidney infections before they arrive, it is estimated that one in seven hospital patients have such problems, but in many cases are not properly diagnosed by medical staff. The effects of surgery and some medication can also make the situation worse.

The death toll from this avoidable problem far outweighs other issues like MRSA. In addition to the human cost, it costs the NHS £1bn, while resolving the issue would save £200m per year. The authors note that the situation is ‘completely unacceptable’ and could be resolved by ‘good basic care’.

Tesco’s Profits Fall as Consumers Turn to Discounters

Apr 17, 2014

Second annual consecutive fall in retailer’s profits due to confusion and lack of pricing clarity suggest analysts
Tesco Customer ServiceRetail giant Tesco has been forced to admit that its profits have fallen for the second year running. While this would once have been unthinkable, company bosses and investors have heaved a sigh of relief that the results were not considerably worse. The company has suffered from poor performance across Asia, Eastern Europe and in the UK home market.
Here, the retailer has lost consumers both to discount retailers and to its traditional competitors. Commentators have noted that Tesco’s marketing seems confused, and that it needs to deliver greater clarity, especially on pricing, if it is to attract consumers back through its doors. However, one gleam of hope came from a rise in online sales, and this is an area that Tesco plans to develop further. According to Bryan Roberts from retail consultancy Kantar, ‘putting shoppers, rather than shareholders, back at the heart of the business’ would be a start in turning the business around.
Overseas, Tesco has suffered badly due to difficult trading conditions in the Eurozone, resulting in a 28% drop in trading profit there. In Asia, the situation was not as severe, but the company still saw profits fall by 5.6%.

Inflation Dips to Lowest Level in Four Years

Apr 16, 2014

Figures just released by ONS show that inflation fell to 1.6% in March leading to hopes that consumers could finally start to see pay rise in real terms
Inflation RatesThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just confirmed that the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), fell from 1.7% in February to 1.6% in March. This is the lowest level recorded since 2009, and falls well below the 2% target set by the Bank of England. The rate of inflation measured by the higher Retail Prices Index (RPI) has also registered a fall, dropping from 2.7% to 2.5%. Although it brings the risk of interest rates rising ever closer, falling inflation is good for consumers, meaning lower prices in the shops. Statistics that the ONS will release tomorrow are expected to confirm that wages have risen slightly too, meaning that there is finally a real prospect of consumers feeling that they have a little more money in their pockets.
Six consecutive falls in inflation creates longest run in recent history
The drop in inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index is the sixth consecutive monthly fall, indicating the emergence of a clear trend.

MPs Call on Prime Minister to Create New ‘Minister for Complaints’

Apr 14, 2014

Public Administration select committee also recommends that each government department should publish details of complaints received and resolved annually, as well as showing how lessons have been learnt
NHS Complaints UKThe Public Administration select committee has delivered a scathing review of the piecemeal and inadequate handling of consumer complaints across the NHS, government departments and other public bodies. In a hard-hitting report, MPs have slated the way that complaints are currently handled, with a widespread failure to deal with complaints in good time, and numerous incidences of failure to resolve complaints, and the problems at their root.

They believe that a revolution needs to take place in how the public sector handles complaints. As a result, they have recommended a raft of changes to the current complaints handling system, and have called on the prime minister to appoint a cabinet minister with special responsibility for public sector complaints, to help restore consumer confidence and trust in the system.
Another Mid Staffs-scale tragedy likely if complete change to NHS complaints culture does not happen

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