Friday 23 November 2018
Today Citizens Advice features in national and regional news about rent-to-own products, smart meters and debt.
It’s also the media launch of National Consumer Week today as we warn consumers about the problems with online marketplaces. There is a template press release to share with local media – available in English and in Welsh.
Government will miss smart meter deadline, watchdog warns
The Guardian, CityAM, FT, The Times, 23/11/2018
The National Audit Office has said the government will miss its own deadline for installing smart meters. Our response has been carried.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “If the costs of the rollout continue to rise, as the NAO suggests, it is households who will end up footing the bill. These costs may be offset if people benefit from savings in the long-term, but with no cost-benefit analysis conducted since 2016, it’s not clear that this will happen.”
National Consumer Week
Black Friday danger warning – why you need to beware online marketplaces today
Our research into the pitfalls of online marketplaces ahead of National Consumer Week was covered in the Mirror and on broadcast.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Far too many people are being ripped off on online marketplaces. This National Consumer Week, we want to make sure customers know what to look out for when making a purchase – and their rights if something goes wrong.
“With millions of people trying to find a bargain online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, buyers need to beware when purchasing items through online marketplaces.
Joe Lane was on BBC Radio London at 7:20am this morning discussing this. Katie Martin and Matthew Upton have also been interviewed for BBC News and Sky News.
Rent to own products
Cap on rent-to-own products positive step
Yesterday the FCA announced a cap on rent-to-own products and we hailed it as a victory. Joe Lane featured on BBC News Channel and ITV. Matthew Upton was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive, said: “A cap gets to the heart of the problem by stopping costs from spiralling out of control and pushing people into further debt. Our evidence has repeatedly shown that well-designed caps can reduce the harm high-cost credit can cause, as they have done in the payday loan market.”
BrightHouse and PerfectHomes Black Friday deals cost THREE times more than high street prices
Sun Online, 21/11/2018, Tara Evans
Gillian Guy was quoted in a Sun Online story about the cost of household appliances being sold by rent-to-own companies on Black Friday.
The article also used our research that found a cap on rent-to-own agreements that meant nobody paid more than twice what they borrowed would save customers £62 million.
Gillian said: “People who buy household items using rent-to-own pay huge amounts of interest on products that already cost well over the regular retail price.
“Alongside extras, such as warranties and delivery charges, these agreements can lead to runaway costs that can cause people real financial harm.
“This is why the FCA must act soon and confirm its intention to cap rent-to-own agreements. No one should have to pay back more than double what they borrow.”
Concern over fuel poverty in Cumbria
BBC Radio Cumbria, 21/11/2018 (1hr 37 mins in)
Andy Auld, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, appeared on BBC radio to talk about the high levels of fuel poverty in the area.
He said: “Eden is the second worst in England and Wales for fuel poverty – nearly 17% of people in Eden are in fuel poverty.
“What we find it’s people on the lowest incomes who are more likely to have problems with meeting their fuel costs.”
He added: “In Cumbria it is much higher than average and it is of concern.”
Citizens Advice Rochdale campaigns for regulator to crack down on badly behaving bailiffs
Rochdale Online, 18/11/2018
Our campaign for an independent regulator to police the bailiff industry was covered in the north west.
Research last week showed that one in every three people visited by a bailiff witnessed the enforcement officer breaking the rules.
Citizens Advice in Rochdale said it dealt with 158 people in the last two years with bailiff issues, including one person who had a £44 debt, to which a £75 compliance charge was added and £235 for “enforcement action”.
Jonathan Yates, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Rochdale, said: “The government must step in and regulate the industry to prevent people suffering at the hands of bailiffs who flout the rules.
“It beggars’ belief an industry that can cause so much damage is not properly policed by a regulator.”
In other news
The homeless population in Britain has risen to 320,000.
A bank customer lost thousands in a scam, despite the fraudster getting one of her security questions wrong.