Archive for the ‘Consumer matters’ Category

A review of “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

November 10th, 2019 by Roger Darlington

“The Handmaid’s Tale” was published in 1985 and I eventually read it in 1994. When the sequel “The Testaments” was published in 2019, I was keen to read it, but I wanted to reread the original work first. The first book is a record made by a Handmaid called Offred who serves a senior Commander […]

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Why aren’t more consumers engaging with the broadband market?

October 22nd, 2019 by Roger Darlington

Recently the consumer organisation Which? published new research – gathering an in-depth understanding of why consumers aren’t engaging in the broadband market.  This behavioural research identifies six key barriers to engagement among disengaged consumers: Consumers have low confidence in assessing what they need and identifying a suitable package Consumers are confused about how pricing works […]

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One third fewer banks but much more online banking

September 29th, 2019 by Roger Darlington

The consumerbody Which? has just published its​ latest findings on bank branch closures. Banks and building societies closed a total of 3,312 branches between January 2015 and August 2019, with an average of 55 closing each month. A further 100 branches are scheduled to close before the end of this year. The RBS Group, which […]

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Would you like to chair the Essential Services Access Network?

December 12th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

The Essential Services Access Network (ESAN) is a grouping of consumer and voluntary organisations working on a cross-sectoral basis with regulators and Ombudsman services. ESAN strives to ensure that services which are essential to life, health and well-being (currently energy, water, financial services and communications) meet the needs of consumers, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances. After three […]

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This could be my last conference speech

November 7th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I’ve been speaking in public for around 55 years, but this week I might just have made my last conference speech. The occasion was a London event organised by the consultancy Independ and the publication “The Water Report”. The title of the event was “Defining the social contract: essential public services, private business and better […]

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Citizens Advice super-complaint to CMA on the injustice of loyalty payments

September 28th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

A super-complaint has been lodged today by Citizens Advice with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) calling for the regulator to investigate the loyalty penalty in a number of essential markets: mobile handsets, broadband, mortgages, home insurance and savings. Research by Citizens Advice has found that consumers lose over £4 billion a year to the loyalty penalty, with 8 […]

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Why we need a new consumer advocate for telecommunications consumers

July 4th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This is the Executive Summary of my submission to BEIS on the Consumer Green Paper “Modernising Consumer Markets”: This submission only addresses one question in the Green Paper: Q5: Is there a need to change the consumer advocacy arrangements in the telecommunications sector? If so, what arrangements would be most effective in delivering consumer benefits, […]

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Liberal Democrat leader calls for tech giants to be broken up

April 24th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has called for Google, Amazon and Facebook to be broken up, comparing them to US oil monopolies that exploited their market power more than a century ago. In an under-reported speech, Cable said recent scandals including the Facebook Cambridge Analytica revelations meant the tech giants had “progressed from heroes to […]

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The government’s recognised markets aren’t working — now it’s time to fix them

April 12th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This is the headline of a blog posting by Citizens Advice about the Government’s Consumer Green Paper published this week. Citizens Advice highlights four issues especially: Consulting on creating an independent consumer advocate for telecoms. Telecoms is increasingly critical to our lives and our economy and yet — unlike all other essential markets — there’s no statutory independent advocate. […]

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How consumers can obtain a voice in the regulatory system

March 21st, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This week, I gave a presentation to a course on “Economic Regulation Of Utilities” for regulators from five countries: Bulgaria, Botswana, Malaysia, Singapore and Afghanistan. My presentation was entitled “How consumers can obtain a voice in the regulatory system“. After discussing the purpose of regulation, I looked at different models for an institutional consumer voice […]

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