Home African Caribbean Why Are Consumers In Britain Constantly Being Ripped Off?

Why Are Consumers In Britain Constantly Being Ripped Off?

by Tony Kelly
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Tony Kelly resident Diabetes expert

There is a daytime consumer programme on BBC TV  called Rip-Off Britain which is presented by Angela Rippon, Gloria Hunniford and Julia Summerville. This leads me to focus on four separate consumer related issues that I have been faced with and the need for the public to be vigilant as companies/businesses seem hell-bent on taking us for a ride.  This has got to stop as consumers need to know their rights and challenge these blatant attempts at pulling the wool over our eyes as they try to maximize their profits.

Firstly, I was given last year a ten-pound All4One gift card with an expiry date of 2025 which can be exchanged for goods in a variety of shops/stores. Recently whilst registering the card online it showed that 90 pence on three separate occasions so £2.70 had been deducted at regular intervals from the card for apparent administration charges leaving a balance of £7.30.  I happen to also have a number of Love2shop gift cards which expire in either 2024 or 2025 and that particular company does NOT deduct anything overtime for administration charges so the card always maintains its true value. I quickly purchased something in order not to end up with a zero balance on this All4One gift card.  That is a con and simply put a rip-off.

Secondly, our home has both a standard meter for electricity readings and another for several years known as Economy 7 which gives a lower night-time reading for seven hours between 11.00 pm and 6.00 am. Britain is in the process of installing in most homes Smart meters which are remotely controlled from the electric company’s base and thus avoids anyone having to come once each month or quarterly to our home to read the meter. We are able to read it ourselves and send in the monthly figures of the normal (daytime) and low (night-time) readings via an email.  Recently we received an email inviting us to have a Smart meter fitted and on doing research discovered that it is to be avoided at all costs because it amounts to the utility companies being in control and charging for electricity that has not been used.  One should not forget their ability to disconnect the supply as has been the case for numerous users who are struggling to pay the highly increased bills and end up in arrears especially in the winter. Another rip-off that I will not sign up to as we are keeping our Economy 7 tariff. The saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ seems pertinent.

Thirdly, our home needed a new desk-top computer and being a technophobe, I asked the Birmingham based CEO and computer programmer who does all my diabetes flyers, power-point presentations, etc.  to source one for us.  He found one online reduced in the sale at the leading but not necessarily customer friendly electrical store which has a chain of outlets which I never really support.  I went to one of their stores to purchase the item only to be told that the price on the website is a mistake and it cannot be sold at what was quoted there even after showing them the images of the reduced price. The law clearly states that the company has a legal duty to sell the goods at the price advertised. The manager would not budge so I refused to purchase the item and bought a better computer elsewhere at a more upmarket store with better customer service. The policy adopted by the store regarding the so-called mistake is a clear breach of the Trade Description Act and that company should have been fined heavily for misleading the public. Within a few hours the reduction in price was removed from the website.  This happened last summer and despite writing to the same BBC TV Rip-off Britain programme as well as BBC Watchdog another consumer affairs programme and the Citizens Advice Bureau all via email, none  bothered to investigate with  the overwhelming evidence at their disposal.  They all had the email as I received an automatic response confirmation. Another clear case of the consumer being ripped off and one is expected to ignore it.

Lastly, a motorist drove in the back of my car just before Christmas  whilst I was stationary at a road junction. His insurance company accepted liability and my car was repaired. Initially I was being offered a courtesy car but on hearing about one of my friends who returned a courtesy car to a  hire firm then getting a telephone call nearly 7 weeks later (yes weeks ) to say that there was a scratch on the front bumper which she would be liable for, clearly another rip-off, I declined the offer and used my wife’s car instead. Some of these insurance companies are notorious and unscrupulous for doing that and inflating the cost of repairs.

When my car was ready I received an email informing me  to pay the excess of x number of pounds (a three figure sum)  before it could be released.  Simply put the other driver had accepted liability as he drove in the back of my car (no brainer) so I was not supposed to  pay a single penny. I queried the devious tactic being used to get money from me and the  repair firm duly delivered the car to our home with no apology offered.  Another attempt at ripping-off the consumer.

There are indeed more that I could mention but one is limited for space in these fortnightly CaribDirect articles. However, I am sure some readers would have experienced being conned/ripped off too so it would be interesting to see them in the comments section of www.caribdirect.com

Let me end by reiterating the need to be vigilant and don’t part with your money without asking pertinent questions as all consumers have rights and I am from an era where the customer was always right and came first.  Some of you will know this well-known Jamaican saying ‘Duppy know who fi frighten, an who fi tell good night.’ If not, surely, Bob Marley’s ‘Get up, stand up, stand up, for your rights’ should resonate with you.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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