Power to the people - but especially the consumer!

16th May 2014

There seems to have been a wealth of consumer complaints stories around this week. E-0n has just been ordered to pay back millions to customers who were mis-sold a deal while npower topped a Citizen’s Advice poll showing how many complaints the Big Six energy suppliers receive. I think the message here has to be that if we think big companies are in the wrong, then there can be some redress.

So it’s nice to know that some consumers in the UK are gaining added protection – six million of them in fact. Our good news in that department is that Dwr Cymru Welsh Water became the latest addition to the companies who have adopted our six-point pledge, putting their customers first and guaranteeing that paper correspondence will remain a choice for those who want it. Adding their 3 million customers to the 500,000 members of the Principality Building Society and Wessex Water’s 2.7m users and that’s more than six million who know their paper bills and statements are protected.

However, that’s still fewer than one in 10 people in the UK, so Keep Me Posted knows it still has a lot of work to do.

That work is being increasingly recognised however. One of our eminent supporters Baroness Oppenheimer Barnes raised our issues in a debate on online access in the House of Lords, saying it was wrong that so many people were paying high costs for paper bills because they did not have broadband available. Lord Gardiner of Kimble, on the Government’s behalf, agreed to look into the matter and agreed that those who were not in a position to pay online should not be expected to pay “over and above”.

And just last week Rebecca Evans AM raised Keep Me Posted in a debate in the National Assembly for Wales. It’s heartening that such high profile supporters have consumers interests top of mind and are happy to bring them to attention if they can.

I recently met with Citizens Advice and I am set to meet with Ombudsman Services next week, both bodies which fight for the rights of the customer. Let’s see what we can do redress the balanced in the consumer’s favour.

Judith Donovan