Consumer Protection

Provide the county court system with adequate resources to deal with small claims regarding consumer protection. Private debt collecting agencies are filling the void, to the detriment of the consumer. Individuals need to be able to claim or defend actions and all too often companies are using the debt collection agency as their first port of call.

The law of contract seems to ecape most of them and thank goodness that consumer advice centres within Trading Standards Departments are there to help.

Why is this idea important?

Provide the county court system with adequate resources to deal with small claims regarding consumer protection. Private debt collecting agencies are filling the void, to the detriment of the consumer. Individuals need to be able to claim or defend actions and all too often companies are using the debt collection agency as their first port of call.

The law of contract seems to ecape most of them and thank goodness that consumer advice centres within Trading Standards Departments are there to help.

Renting

If a minimum term is required it should not exceed six months from when the tenant first moves in with no further minimum terms allowed.  Tenants could reasonably be charged a penalty of, say, two month’s rent if they leave within six months.

A non-student sharing a house or flat with students should be charged council tax only on his share of the dwelling, not on the entire dwelling.

 

Why is this idea important?

If a minimum term is required it should not exceed six months from when the tenant first moves in with no further minimum terms allowed.  Tenants could reasonably be charged a penalty of, say, two month’s rent if they leave within six months.

A non-student sharing a house or flat with students should be charged council tax only on his share of the dwelling, not on the entire dwelling.

 

Right to retreads

Fleet car owners often lease. I don't know why but they do. Leasers impose conditions about how the car can be returned, and I read a set today from Mercedez Finance saying that retread tyres are not "acceptable". Return a car with retreads and they charge you for a new set of tyres.

This should be made unenforceable, if it is enforcable now.

http://www2.mercedes-benz.co.uk/content/media_library/unitedkingdom/mpc_unitedkingdom/passenger_cars_ng/ng_finance_and_insurance/de-fleet_video/de-fleet_pdf.object-Single-MEDIA.download.tmp/De-Fleet.pdf is the set of standards I've seen and the line is on pdf-reader page 10: "not acceptable: …. remoulds and other substandard tyres".

Why is this idea important?

Fleet car owners often lease. I don't know why but they do. Leasers impose conditions about how the car can be returned, and I read a set today from Mercedez Finance saying that retread tyres are not "acceptable". Return a car with retreads and they charge you for a new set of tyres.

This should be made unenforceable, if it is enforcable now.

http://www2.mercedes-benz.co.uk/content/media_library/unitedkingdom/mpc_unitedkingdom/passenger_cars_ng/ng_finance_and_insurance/de-fleet_video/de-fleet_pdf.object-Single-MEDIA.download.tmp/De-Fleet.pdf is the set of standards I've seen and the line is on pdf-reader page 10: "not acceptable: …. remoulds and other substandard tyres".

Sale of services: clarity on legal insurers & unions

I want two pieces of clarity.

  1. The same consumer protection service should cover legal insurers & the legal insurance work of trades unions.  At the moment if you ring Consumer Direct about a rip-off by a trades union, they tell you to try the Financial Services Authority. Try them and they say try the Certification Office. I pressed my point on the phone so the boss of the helpline office rang me back to say that this was not a political thing; unions do other things apart from legal insurance, and that's the reasoning "like getting you cheap food at the canteen" he said. But a legal insurere that also offers human resources advice or is bundled with the services of Cardsave or the Federation of Small Businesses is covered. Likewise unions have no trouble registering with the FSA for their work flogging financial services to the mailing list, but don't want to register as legal insurers. On to the Cerfication Office: "complaints regarding a union’s failure to represent a member adequately, or at all" are not covered. That's what they say on their web site.
     
  2. Legal insurers who use no-win no-fee lawyers should be transparent about it. At the moment some legal insurers pay no insurance premium tax: all the money goes to the broker. They charge no-win no-fee lawyers such as Shoesmiths referral fees, accoding to the company quoted in an Observer article: "It's the only source of income we get", said someone at DAS legal insurance.

    Now, if the whole edifice of a legal insurance company is funded by no-win no-fee lawyers, most consumers would cancel their subscription and think of another way to get such lawyers. They would be right to do so. Apart from a murkey hope that a legal firm can use cross-subsidise cases there is no excuse for running such a service and a murkey hope is no hope at all.

Why is this idea important?

I want two pieces of clarity.

  1. The same consumer protection service should cover legal insurers & the legal insurance work of trades unions.  At the moment if you ring Consumer Direct about a rip-off by a trades union, they tell you to try the Financial Services Authority. Try them and they say try the Certification Office. I pressed my point on the phone so the boss of the helpline office rang me back to say that this was not a political thing; unions do other things apart from legal insurance, and that's the reasoning "like getting you cheap food at the canteen" he said. But a legal insurere that also offers human resources advice or is bundled with the services of Cardsave or the Federation of Small Businesses is covered. Likewise unions have no trouble registering with the FSA for their work flogging financial services to the mailing list, but don't want to register as legal insurers. On to the Cerfication Office: "complaints regarding a union’s failure to represent a member adequately, or at all" are not covered. That's what they say on their web site.
     
  2. Legal insurers who use no-win no-fee lawyers should be transparent about it. At the moment some legal insurers pay no insurance premium tax: all the money goes to the broker. They charge no-win no-fee lawyers such as Shoesmiths referral fees, accoding to the company quoted in an Observer article: "It's the only source of income we get", said someone at DAS legal insurance.

    Now, if the whole edifice of a legal insurance company is funded by no-win no-fee lawyers, most consumers would cancel their subscription and think of another way to get such lawyers. They would be right to do so. Apart from a murkey hope that a legal firm can use cross-subsidise cases there is no excuse for running such a service and a murkey hope is no hope at all.

Prevent ‘stealth’ rises in foodstuffs and other products

All too often we see the contents of food stuffs packages reduced whilst the price remains the same.  This is a price increase by stealth and shouldn't be allowed to happen in this manner.  We consumers need protection and the way to do it is to force food (and other) producers to make it plain in a standard and consistent manner that the package contents have been reduced. 

It should be made illegal to operate in the manner they currently do so.

 

Why is this idea important?

All too often we see the contents of food stuffs packages reduced whilst the price remains the same.  This is a price increase by stealth and shouldn't be allowed to happen in this manner.  We consumers need protection and the way to do it is to force food (and other) producers to make it plain in a standard and consistent manner that the package contents have been reduced. 

It should be made illegal to operate in the manner they currently do so.

 

Repeal the 1878 “Bill of Sale” Act

This nasty little remnant of Dickensian England has recently been rediscovered by some loan sharks and is causing untold misery up and down the country.It is mainly used to loan money against a person's car and the principle loan-shark involved is "Logbookloans" Ltd. Kevin Brennan singled this company out for censure and promised to repeal the Act if labour was returned to power.

Incredibly, this Act allows reposession by breaking doors and windows in order to gain access to the vehicle.

Why is this idea important?

This nasty little remnant of Dickensian England has recently been rediscovered by some loan sharks and is causing untold misery up and down the country.It is mainly used to loan money against a person's car and the principle loan-shark involved is "Logbookloans" Ltd. Kevin Brennan singled this company out for censure and promised to repeal the Act if labour was returned to power.

Incredibly, this Act allows reposession by breaking doors and windows in order to gain access to the vehicle.

Repeal CPUTR

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations seems like a great idea. Snatch all those nasty rogue traders we see on Watchdog. However, in the field of complementary medicine this has been a nightmare.

A complementary health practitioner, under these regulations, operates as guilty until proven innocent, i.e. they recommend a course of action/treatment/therapy or dispense advice or opinion. The client acts accordingly, yet the results are not as expected. The client can bring a prosecution and the practitioner must prove their innocence – not the other way round.

Why is this idea important?

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations seems like a great idea. Snatch all those nasty rogue traders we see on Watchdog. However, in the field of complementary medicine this has been a nightmare.

A complementary health practitioner, under these regulations, operates as guilty until proven innocent, i.e. they recommend a course of action/treatment/therapy or dispense advice or opinion. The client acts accordingly, yet the results are not as expected. The client can bring a prosecution and the practitioner must prove their innocence – not the other way round.

Implimentation of a Taylor Law (see US legislation) for monopoly industries in the UK.

Make monopolies fully accountable for their actions by implimenting something similar to the Taylor Law in the US (specifically New York).

In a monopoly market forces fail because there is no alternative to the customer.  Therefore the customer needs to be protected from the monopoly refusing to provide the service it is contractually abliged to do.

A good example is the Underground in London. I dont care why they are not providing a service on certain days (and that INCLUDES strikes). I care how much money it has cost me because they havent provided that service.

They need to be open to compensation payemnts and not be able to refuse on the grounds that there was a strike – that is their problem.

I would look at extending this to non-monopolies as well. Its about time BA for example fully compensation people and businesses for withdrawing their service. 

Why is this idea important?

Make monopolies fully accountable for their actions by implimenting something similar to the Taylor Law in the US (specifically New York).

In a monopoly market forces fail because there is no alternative to the customer.  Therefore the customer needs to be protected from the monopoly refusing to provide the service it is contractually abliged to do.

A good example is the Underground in London. I dont care why they are not providing a service on certain days (and that INCLUDES strikes). I care how much money it has cost me because they havent provided that service.

They need to be open to compensation payemnts and not be able to refuse on the grounds that there was a strike – that is their problem.

I would look at extending this to non-monopolies as well. Its about time BA for example fully compensation people and businesses for withdrawing their service.