CAB News 24 May 2019

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CAB News 24 May 2019

Friday 24 May 2019

Our campaign against the loyalty penalty and the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into our ‘super-complaint’ continues to get national media coverage.

National

Loyalty Penalty

Citizens Advice “driving force” behind CMA investigation into ‘loyalty penalty’

You and Yours, BBC Radio Four, 23/05/2019 (1232, about 11’30” into clip)

Consumer programme You and Yours marked five months since the CMA responded to the ‘super-complaint’ into how loyal customers pay more for staying with service providers including those for home insurance, mobile phones and mortgages.

Our Consumer Principal Policy Manager Morgan Wild told the programme customers were losing £11 million a day, just for being loyal. “It’s going to require the regulators to act, and act urgently,” he said.

Energy

Gas supplier Cadent hit with record £44m Ofgem penalty

The Guardian, 22/05/2019, p.39, Angela Monaghan

The Guardian said Cadent customers were left without gas for an average of 19 days, but in the worst case they were cut off for five months. The company also failed to keep proper records relating to nearly 800 blocks of flats, which were then excluded from maintenance schemes.

Gillian Guy told the paper: “Today’s announcement will be welcome news for those who were left without supply because of Cadent’s failures. When energy network companies fail to deliver good levels of service, customers should be compensated.”.

The Financial Times and FT.com (subscription required) said failure to adequately compensate households for customer service failures was a common problem with network companies, which are in effect monopolies.

On the FT.com website Gillian said: “Our research shows that in the last three years, households have missed out on £5.1m of compensation for customer service failures by network companies.

“We believe that when these companies don’t deliver the right levels of service, compensation should be automatic.”

In its coverage of the story The Independent quoted our 2017 research which found gas and electricity network companies were on target to make an average 19 per cent profit margin over eight years, handing an average 10 per cent return back to shareholders, despite the “fundamentally low risk” nature of the business.

Trade

Citizens Advice calls for electric vehicle sector to put customers first

Utility Week, 22/05/2019, Jamie Hailstone

Our research into electric vehicle charging schemes, featured in the trade magazine Utility Week.

Gillian Guy said:“The electric vehicle market is small, but rapidly expanding. It’s also a vital part of the decarbonisation of the whole transport system,”

“If the evolution of new charging systems is to be a success, drivers need to be involved and listened to from the start,” she added.

“The potential risks and benefits can be hard for people to assess – particularly if, like most of us, they don’t own or have access to an electric vehicle.

“It’s also really important that the needs of people with limited budgets or mobility issues are considered and these groups are not left behind.”

Is this the death of the phone upgrade?

Daily Mail, 22/05/2019, p.46, Samantha Partington; Amelia Murray

Our research, showing millions of customers are continuing to pay for their mobile phone handset after their minimum contract period has expired, was quoted in an article in the Daily Mail. This ‘loyalty penalty is paid by 34 per cent of users, costing them an average of £264 a year.

The report also featured our advice that people should check their phone bills to see if they can save money with a Sim-only deal.

Advice

Financial advice gap has widened since 2015, says report

FT.com, 22/05/2019, Kate Beioley

The gap between those with and without access to affordable financial advice has widened since our study into the issue by Citizens Advice in 2015, reports FT.com. It says a new follow up study to our “landmark” report, by investment service OpenMoney and pollsters YouGov, found three of the four types of advice gap identified by Citizens Advice had widened.

Save our local post offices!

Daily Mail, 21/05//2019, p.6, Tom Witherow and Sam Greenhill

In our role as the statutory consumer advocate for postal services we were featured in the Daily Mail’s new campaign to save local post offices.

Gillian Guy said: “As the high street struggles, the post office continues to play an important role.”

Debt

The government can save lives by changing the law on debt letters

The Times, 21/05/2019 (subscription charge may apply)

Our work with people in debt was highlighted in an article in The Times by MP Norman Lamb calling for a change in the law on debt letters.

In other news

Personal care should be free for over-65s, says think tank.

Plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers to be banned in England.

UK’s ‘cruel and harmful policies’ lack regard for child hunger, says charity Human Rights Watch.

NHS: staff shortages ‘abusing good will of nurses’.