back to article UK consumers lose £6.6bn a year to unfair treatment

British consumers are being cheated out of £6.6bn a year by unfair treatment from business, with telecommunications and personal banking topping the list of problem areas, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said. OFT research found that more than one in two of the 10,000 consumers surveyed had suffered some kind of consumer …


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  1. Campbell


    Let's not forget the unfair taxation costing us more than businesses ever will.

    At least with businesses/banks you get something in return, even if it's only a £25 letter to tell you that you are skint.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I'd love to see..

    The OFT consider governement to be a business, just for the sake of argument, and do the same research.

    I suspect the results would make Telecoms and banks look like paragons of consumer virtue by comparison.

  3. Daniel

    Of course people have been "mistreated"

    Surely most people will say they have been mistreated, imagine, you get caught uploading a movie and your cut off from your internet service for doing so. The majority of people who get caught for this blame the ISP because they are too stupid to take precautions.

    If you go over your overdraft limit and the bank charges you... well thats unfair isn't it?

    Britain is a nation of moaners, we know that, but it doesn't mean we've been screwed out of 6.6Bn!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just private businesses, the whole has that attitude of 'I'm always right, you're always wrong, prove me wrong'.

    The plastic police stop photography in public, don't argue or they'll splap you for something else,

    DVLA hands out peoples private data to companies in disputes in which it has no business taking sides, don't pay and they'll add on extra charges,

    C&E seizes vehicles without due process, you want due process? You have to fight for due process.

    Police do likewise, on the spot fines, fixed penalties for not paying the previous penalty you disputed.

    IR same trick, automatic fines even when they're in the wrong. You prove otherwise.

    SUV driven 10 miles? 25 quid a day charge in London, normal car drive 50 miles, 8 quid a day. SUV blamed for CO2 emissions, regardless of realities.

    Send your kids to a popular school, get followed by council snoops, if you complain they'll lie and say you are committing fraud, even though they've never even filed a fraud charge.

    ISP's selling your surfing data, can we get a prosecution? Can you buggery.

    Use an open Wifi, get prosecuted using a law made before Wifi existed that could never have been written with wifi in mind.

    Unfair treatment is endemic in the UK.

    Shall we stop it now?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Banking and telecomms?

    What about Worst, sorry, First Group? Surely they cost the country more?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    trading standards?

    trading standards have very little effect, thats why. Sure they spend a load of time promoting themselves and making sure everyone knows they are there but if a company is trading under bad ethics there is little anyone can do as its not a legal matter its an ethical one.

  7. Jerome

    And their point is...?

    They seem to be implying that more people should contact Trading Standards and Consumer Direct about their problems. Surely this would just result in these organisations being even more swamped and even less helpful than they currently are?

    Regardless, I shall take them up on their suggestion and will write to them forthwith, regarding Virgin Media's shocking treatment of their customers re. Phorm and net neutrality. Any other VM-suffering Reg readers out there fancy doing the same?

    P.S. Surely it's time for a horned Branson icon?

  8. Matt Martin

    Let us not forget

    That businesses charge VAT on some services so the Government could be profiting by up to £1.1bn - no wonder the regulators are toothless.

  9. Tony
    Paris Hilton

    Consumers lose £6.6bn

    Flippin' 'eck, now that's a surprise !!

    (PH 'cos she's used to getting sh*fted)

  10. Mark

    Chocolate teapot

    ["Only five per cent of people in the UK report their complaint through channels such as Trading Standards and Consumer Direct," said OFT chief executive]

    Well I could tell the OFT CE why this is so: the trading standards people are as effective as a g-string tampon.

    They won't help, they won't tell you what the law is and they'll avoid doing any work if they can get away with it.

    And when you get the situation "resolved" by your own efforts, they fail to respond to continuing failures.

    One major problem is that TS staff won't work against a trader unless there have been many complaints. But they don't share the information of complaints, so if you're complaining about a company you bought mail-order, only complaints from your council catchment count as to whether trading standards will bother.

  11. davefb


    of course nobody contacts trading standards / consumer direct.. thats because if you goto the websites, they give the helpful advice about having to complain to the service provider. then contact the of-whoever involved.

    the of-whoever involved has a system that you must first exhaust all the procedures of the companies customer "service" before they would then consider helping you out.

    way before then most people would have given up.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    And people don't bother why??

    Because you complain and fark all happens, they are all in bed with each other anyway, despite what the propeller heads spout.

    Their advice? Contact the company that shafted you and try to sort it out, erm..yeah tried that, after 45 mins trying to explain the problem to an indian call centre, got pi**ed off when she didn't understand the problem after 8 attempts and hung up.

    Which is exactly what they want, rip us off then wear us down with a succession of idiots until we give up, cause they know OFT have no balls.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The system doesn't work...

    I don't blame peeps for not using trading standards to help resolve issues. It's so difficult to find the right help or advice that effort alone is significant. When I call the trading standands, they say it's the wrong post code, or the wrong type of complaint. These rip off companies have to opporate within the comsumer law guidelines but don't, and they know the helpfulness of the UK infrastructure is not what it's cracked up to be which allows them to get away with it.

    We need a centralised trading standards that acts as a hub for the whole of the UK, that way, they route the issue in accordance with their guidelines for handling complaints. The consumer can then pick up their issue at that point rather than waisting time and money trying to identify who they should be speaking to in the first instance.

    The country needs to grow some balls....

  14. Andrew Brooks

    'Consumers' or 'Mugs'?

    Just got a CCJ lodged against Fasthosts for the "late" fees they charged me!!! Next, step a warrant and then the bailiffs. Consumers are ripped off because they allow themselves to be.

  15. Justin Stone

    RE: UK.Gov

    "Police do likewise, on the spot fines, fixed penalties for not paying the previous penalty you disputed."

    On the spot fines are a method of preventing you from having to go to court. If you were doing 50 in a 40 zone and you got pulled over, you can either take the fixed fine, or go to court. According to the 1689 declairation of rights, no man can be financially penalized or fined with out being found guilt in a court of law.

    You have the right to take the speeding ticket or congestion charge fine to court, but the chances are you'll still end up paying.

  16. Jim

    Consumers don't know how to complain

    I work in an advice agency. Most clients don't know how to complain. They think a whine over the phone to the company they are having a problem with is going to resolve matters, it isn't.

    Complain formally, in writing, keep copies and send it recorded delivery. If not satisfied with the response, or there is no response, threaten a small claims court action. Still not satisfied then go to court.

    If you can't be arsed to do that then the problem isn't that big of a deal just learn from it, boycott the outfit giving you poor service and spread the word. That said Most banks and communication companies have essentially non-existent customer service to keep costs down.

    Obviously everyone will not win a small claim but the majority will. District judges are generally understanding and reasonable people who are quite happy to dispense justice in favour of consumers, because the law is framed that way.

    Finally, don't buy the cheapest product/service and expect world class customer support. If something is cheap there's a reason and it's almost never a good reason.

  17. Olly
    Thumb Down


    Yeah nice one, i've got sod all to do all day but send letters, go to the post office to get them sent recorded, file claims and go to court, oh no wait, I have a job and other obligations to family that have to take priority.

    The vast majority of people don't have the hours in the day to jump through all of the bureaucracy hoops that government agencies put up or the money in there pockets to pay someone to do it, after all that's why we are complaining about it.

  18. Mark

    @Andrew Brooks

    The problem is you have to check up that this sort of late fee is legal. Trading standards should be going to these places and TELLING them they cannot ask for it and sending them to court for disobeying.

    We aren't supposed to be our own solicitor. If we were, we'd have to be given the text of all our laws and any changes when and as they come out.

    Now you try finding your consumer credit act laws...

  19. Steve Browne

    Ho hum

    Another government quango getting in on stating the bleeding obvious.

    Unlimited internet, with a 5GB allowance, yeah right.

    So, why don't the OFT actually do something about it, after all, it is their job.

  20. Jim


    Yes Olly. The free charitable advice agency I work at gets loads of clients like you who want everyone else to hand them stuff on a plate without them having to lift a finger. It doesn't work like that. It never will and nor should it.

    One of the reasons the UK has such dreadful customer service is because too many consumers buy on price and/or won't change a supplier because of inertia/idleness.

    If you can't be arsed to complain and you're too idle to boycott then why are you surprised when you get taken for a sucker?

  21. Tony Paulazzo

    A title is required.

    >If you go over your overdraft limit and the bank charges you... well thats unfair isn't it?<

    I got a cheque and presented it to my bank, a week later I get a two paragraph letter telling me it bounced (at a cost to me of £6) and they're representing it. I go into the bank to ask them not to represent it (after all, if it bounced once...), they said (this was the same day I got the letter mind), sorry, it went back two days ago, and it's down to the other bank how many times it can get represented. I asked them why they didn't charge the bank then and not me and they laughed - in an understanding way. A few days later another letter arrived with the bounced cheque, and another £6 charge.

    That's two letters costing £12 - wish I could charge that much and get away with it.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Would it help...

    If you guys had some sort of service provided by your ISPs that knew you were reading this article, and gave you relevant ads from consumer organisations and lawyers?

    Hmmm, I guess I'll take any coat, just stop throwing things at me!

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