Queen’s Speech should empower consumers

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech, Which? is calling on the Government to introduce new legislation to make it easier ​for the consumer ​to​ force businesses to put things right when markets ​fail to deliver​.

Which? wants the Government to bring forward a Bill containing new measures to give ​customers​ more power to resolve the problems they face in their everyday lives​. This includes ​a new body to tackle complaints in the rail and air travel ​sector, ​a duty to provide ​automatic compensation for loss of broadband and mobile services and proposals to​ introduce the ‘polluter pays’ principle for Claims Management Companies​ (CMCs), so businesses that have​ caused the problem pick up the costs charged to consumers​. ​

Which? wants to see a new Bill that includes:

  • A new ombudsman for rail and air travel complaints: Consumers are poorly protected in rail and air travel with no fully independent way to resolve a complaint against a train company or airline. This could deter passengers from taking on a company when they have a problem. Which? wants the Government to bring forward legislation for a statutory ombudsman which all airlines and rail companies will be required to use.
  • Automatic compensation for loss of broadband and mobile: Broadband and mobile are increasingly seen as essential services by consumers but, unlike other utilities like gas and electricity, there is no automatic compensation when there is service disruption. Ofcom will consult on the issue later this year but the Government should take action without delay and introduce automatic compensation across the telecoms sector.
  • Businesses to bear the cost of Claims Management Companies (CMCs): According to the Financial Conduct Authority, the share of PPI complaints made through CMCs increased to 47% in 2014. Which? wants the Government to legislate to require businesses, rather than consumers, to pick up the costs of CMCs’ charges when they are at fault. This should make it easier for people to get compensation, as it would provide more of an incentive to businesses to set up simpler and easier redress processes and should help cut down nuisance calls.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“Unfortunately it’s a fact of life that things don’t always go right but what’s​ important is that businesses take steps to resolve things quickly and easily, and consumers have the power to hold them to account.

“All too often, particularly in essential markets like transport, telecoms and banking, this doesn’t happen. So, as the Government sets out its priorities for the coming year, we want to see proposals brought forward to incentivise businesses to deliver a better standard of service and empower consumers to get their complaints heard and their money back.​”​

Notes to Editors

  1. Information relating to CMCs complaints was sourced from the Financial Conduct Authority’s ‘Rules and guidance on payment protection insurance Complaints’ which was issued on November 2015. https://fca.org.uk/static/fca/documents/consultation-papers/cp15-39.pdf

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