Consumers Call on Chancellor to Act on Energy Bills
Mar 09, 2014
33,000 consumers sign campaign calling on Chancellor to freeze Carbon Floor Price in Budget, as 77% worry about energy prices
Since consumer group Which? launched its Fix the Big Six campaign just three weeks ago, over 33,000 consumers have signed up to its call for change in the energy market. With the Chancellor currently preparing his 2014 Budget, there is growing pressure on him to freeze the Carbon Floor Price, which is a tax that energy generating firms must pay to combat the effects of any carbon released by fossil fuels. This cost gets passed down the line, and is ultimately paid by consumers.
Previous energy campaign led to Chancellor introducing £50 consumer rebate in Autumn Statement
While it is clearly in the overall common good to lower our dependence on fossil fuels and to penalise those producers that cause the most pollutants, this is not the time to force cash-strapped consumers to pay the cost. In fact, this is the final goal of the campaign – to have the tax eliminated entirely.
Energy Ombudsman Sees Three-fold Increase in Consumer Complaints in a Year
Mar 08, 2014
High level of customer dissatisfaction with poor service leads to increase in billing and switching complaints
The number of consumer complaints, handled by Ombudsman Services, which were related to the energy companies soared to unprecedented levels in February. Indeed, the Ombudsman was shocked to receive almost three times as many consumer complaints last month than at the same time last year. There was a rise in complaint types in a number of areas, principally billing and switching.
Although this winter has not been as cold as last year, when there was a surge in energy usage as consumers tried to keep their homes warm, it seems that customers of the major energy companies have simply lost patience with the poor level of customer service that they receive. Coupled with soaring energy prices, this has simply been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The level of complaints received in January was similarly far higher than at any point last year.
3,626 consumer complaints received in February alone
In February of last year, the Ombudsman received 1,031 complaints from energy sector customers.
46% of Online Shoppers Encounter Problems
Mar 07, 2014
Customers name Amazon and Ebay top big names for frequent difficulties in consumer survey, reports Which?
Online shopping has become big business over the past few years, and this seems set to continue as a major growth sector for retailers. However, while many consumers have found the convenience, choice and discounts available online to be a major incentive to make purchases in this way, a considerable proportion of those consumers have experienced problems with orders that they have placed over the internet.
In fact, according to consumers who participated in a recent Which? survey, 46% of those who have made online purchases over the past two years have had problems. On a positive note, the extra protection offered by the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) means that consumers generally have more protection if things go wrong with an online transaction than if they walked into a high-street shop.
New Scam Tricks Consumers that Call is Coming from Bank
Mar 06, 2014
Fraudsters now using software to display number of customer’s bank on calls
Conmen are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way that they defraud consumers, constantly changing the way that they operate. Therefore, while millions of consumers are still only learning the importance of not trusting callers who claim to be from their bank or from the police in ‘courier fraud’, the scammers have now acquired the means to dupe them even further.
They have started using software that masks the origins of the call and allows the caller to display any number than he or she likes.
In recent scams, customers have received calls showing the number of the fraud or customer service unit of their own bank, which the caller gets them to verify from their debit card. The resultant fraud has cost some consumers thousands of pounds, with £884 the current average loss due to bank and internet fraud, according to Experian.
Government’s Universal Jobmatch Site Hosting ‘Fake’ Adverts
Mar 06, 2014
MP has DWP acknowledgement that accounts advertising over 350,000 jobs could be in breach of rules on its website; consumers scammed by some advertisers
Although jobseekers are obliged to actively respond to job advertisements and attend interviews to get them off the dole and back to work, it seems that the Jobcentre’s Universal Jobmatch website may not be trustworthy. Labour MP Frank Field has revealed that it is ‘bedevilled with fraud’ and is currently beyond control.
Having received reports from some of his constituents about fake adverts scamming consumers out of money, rather than getting them back to work, Mr Field asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to investigate. DWP has now responded that 179 employer accounts that advertise 352,569 jobs may be illegal. In some cases, the advertised jobs are nothing more than a scam. As a result, Mr Field has called on the National Audit Office to investigate how many job offers are actually fraudulent.
Holiday Fraud Up, Consumers Warned
Mar 05, 2014
ABTA, police fraud intelligence unit and Get Safe Online found 4,500 cases of holiday fraud in 2013, costing consumers over £7m
ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), the NFIB (National Fraud Intelligence Bureau) and Get Safe Online, the UK’s national internet security awareness body, have united in warning consumers about the growing risks of fraud related to making holiday bookings. A report compiled by the City of London-based NBIB highlights three main areas where consumers were most at risk: when booking holiday accommodation, when booking airline tickets and when booking package holidays.
They uncovered 4,500 cases of holiday-related fraud last year, which cost travellers some £7m. They have advised consumers to be wary when making online bookings with firms that they do not know, and have advised particular caution if booking packages trips for upcoming major sporting events like the Ryder Cup, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup.
30% of those conned had responded to adverts for villas or apartments
The police report reveals that of the cases discovered during the previous 12 months, 30% were connected to booking accommodation. Many of the conned consumers had responded to adverts for holiday villas and apartments. However, some of them actually arrived at their planned destination, only to discover that they had nowhere to stay, which often left them further out of pocket, as they had to find alternative accommodation at short notice.
Financial Ombudsman Still Resolving Majority of Complaints in Favour of Consumers
Mar 05, 2014
FOS handled 576,000 complaints in 2013, a rise of 38% on the previous year
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has today revealed that it received an extraordinarily high number of consumer complaints about firms in the financial sector last year. While there was a reduction in the number of complaints received in the second half of the year, the Service dealt with 576,000 complaints overall. Given that consumers need to complain directly to their bank, building society or credit provider before they can refer their complaint to the Ombudsman, the true level of financial sector complaints is clearly staggering. However the chief ombudsman Tony Boorman commented that FOS was pleased that the number of new complaints finally seems to be tapering off, a welcome development.
65% of PPI cases dealt with between April and December were resolved in favour of consumer
By far the most complaints received by FOS last year related to Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). Between April and December, almost 327,000 individuals complained about PPI mis-selling, of which 65% cases were found in favour of the consumer. Although the second-most-complained about financial product in the nine months to December was current accounts, the number of cases involved was much lower, just 11,146. Only 32% of these complaints were resolved in favour of the consumer. Although the next–biggest category related to mortgages, only 29% of these cases went against the financial services company concerned.
Pub Lunch Prices Soar 11% Last Year Alone
Mar 03, 2014
Little difference between pub prices that have increased for past four years and restaurant prices that have dropped
The British pub lunch has long been considered an inexpensive, warming and convenient option for lunches during the working week. Meanwhile, at the weekend, a long walk and carvery or ploughman’s and a few drinks seemed to capture the image of the perfect day off for many in the UK. However, it seems that that day has passed, following the revelation by catering consultants Horizons that the price of pub food has risen dramatically over the past four years, soaring 11% in the last year alone.
Difference in cost of main meal just £1.56 on average between pub and restaurant
At a time when restaurant prices have become more affordable, the gap between them is now just £1.56 for a main course. While the quality of food on offer in pubs has also increased, the shift towards more expensive options reduces consumer choice overall. With many consumers strapped for cash, this could significantly reduce the capacity for the average family to eat out together on anything but a very occasional basis.
Game’s Up for Boiler Room Scammers
Feb 28, 2014
110 arrested in UK and across Europe as police crackdown on fraudulent trade of fake shares
The City of London Police service has been involved in the biggest known campaign against boiler room fraud. The name refers to the small rooms from which the scammers work to defraud the vulnerable and those who have previously invested in shares and similar investment instruments. This week, the force has conducted a number of raids, in collaboration with international counterparts, against fraud operations that were identified during a two-year investigation. In addition to the UK, arrests were made in the US, Serbia and Spain, where the majority of these scams are thought to be based.
Fraudsters convinced victims to trust them with the high-quality materials they prepared.
Boiler room scams involved those salespeople cold-calling those who had bought shares in the past. Those who bought shares in the privatised utility companies in the Thatcher era were often targeted. They were swayed by glossy, expensive looking promotional materials for investments that promised an attractive rate of return of 10% to 20% per annum on shares, carbon credits, mineral finds and bonds.
RBS Sets out Bold Vision to Be Number 1 for Customer Service, Trust & Advocacy
Feb 27, 2014
Bank announces major restructuring that will see 50% of all staff dealing directly with customers to meet its goal of becoming UK’s most trusted bank
Of all the banks and bankers most loathed and distrusted by customers, RBS has been king, not least, because UK consumers feel very hard-done-by that the company had to be bailed out by the use of taxpayers’ money. Little has changed in that respect, with 81% of the company still taxpayer-owned. As a result, many consumers will react angrily to the confirmation that the bank posted pre-tax losses of £8.2bn in 2013. Currently valued at £38bn, it is still a long way short of repaying the bailout of £45bn.
CEO sets out vision to become customer-focused
However, from the customer’s perspective, there is much to praise in today’s message from new chief executive Ross McEwan, issued as part of the bank’s annual results statement. He has set out a bold and ambitious vision for the bank to become number one for customer service, trust and customer advocacy in all of its business areas by 2020.