Consumer Focus Blog

Welcome to our blog, a space to let you know what we’re up to and share our views and ideas on consumer issues.

Mike O'Connor (blog)  

Three cheers for some banks!

3 May 2013

Consumer Focus is changing. We published our 2013/14 Work Plan at the end of March. Although some things are changing, others are not. We still retain our statutory duty to protect consumers in vulnerable situations. Reflecting this we published an action plan for empowerment in conjunction with the Citizens Advice service last year and looking forward one of our three strategic priorities is, Consumer vulnerability and inclusive services.

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Liz Coll 150  

Going beyond data protection

18 February 2013

In my last blog post I talked about the big contrast between the importance that external agencies attach to consumer data, and the significance consumers themselves assign. Now I turn to look at if the digital economy runs on personal data, and consumers are the primary source of this new commodity, will consumers seek to exploit its potential, or continue to be exploited for it?

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Marzena Kieslowska-Lipman (for Blog post)  

Different markets, different results – comparing price comparison sites

14 February 2013

Can consumers trust price comparison websites as a reliable source of information? With a growing array of comparison tools are consumers confused about which sites to use?

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Mike O'Connor3 75dpi  

How do we meet the need for investment in essential services?

11 February 2013

A lot of money is needed for infrastructure investment, but whose pocket is it going to come from? In his last budget the Chancellor updated the National Infrastructure Plan which now includes 550 projects valued at over £310 billion.

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Liz Coll 150  

Personal data – the new oil

6 February 2013

In the digital economy personal data is a growth business. The volume of personal data gathered by smart devices, searches, site visits, purchases, recommendations, likes, tweets and status updates is on the rise. Growing too is the value of this data to companies who capture, store, analyse and sell it on. The services are free to use but, as the social media phrase goes, ‘if the service is free, then you’re the product.’

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Saskia Walzel_150  

Received a letter from Golden Eye threatening legal action?

1 February 2013

Saskia Walzel Policy Manager On Tuesday Golden Eye International sent out the first batch of letters threatening court action for alleged copyright infringement via peer to peer filesharing networks. The allegations concern copyright infringement of various Ben Dover Productions films. The letter writing campaign concerns mainly O2 broadband customers, and some BE Broadband customers (both [...]

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Marzena Kieslowska-Lipman (for Blog post)  

Stuck in broadband traffic?

5 December 2012

‘Traffic management’ sounds like technical gobbledygook for most internet users, yet policy makers hope increased transparency about the term can safeguard the principle of the open internet, drive switching and enhance competition in the broadband market.

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Marzena Kieslowska-Lipman (for Blog post)  

Market comparison websites – not just for meerkats

23 November 2012

With a proliferation of deals on the market and the complexity of products and services, price comparison websites can be very useful for consumers and they are more popular than ever. In 2010, the OFT report Advertising of Prices showed 73 per cent of consumers had used a price comparison website; up from 62 per cent in 2009. Civic Consulting reports that 81 per cent had used one in 2011.

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jonathan_stearn_150px  

Empowering consumers in vulnerable positions – civil society and the market place

24 October 2012

We defined consumers in vulnerable positions as: ‘People who cannot choose or access essential products and services which are suitable for their needs or cannot do so without disproportionate effort/cost/time’

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Prashant Vaze_150  

On a whinge and a prayer

19 October 2012

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you’ve had bad service from a company and realise you can’t ignore the matter – you’re going to have to ring up or email customer services and make a complaint? The last time left a bitter taste in your mouth as you were passed between call centres on the other side of the world. We commissioned research to find out what people’s experiences of companies’ complaint procedures and ombudsman services have been in six different markets: legal services, gas and electric, mail, telecoms, water, and financial services. We asked 800 people to fill in an online survey and we also organised three in-depth focus groups to find out how the service might be better.

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