Now the Chancellor reckons he can save you £470
Described as a ‘crackdown’, Chancellor George Osborne has ‘vowed’ to do more to protect consumers and reckons his hardline measures will save families £470 a year by targeting water, energy, internet and phone bills.
In a series of moves designed to cut red tape and increase competition, the Chancellor has his sights set on people getting in the way of good deals for consumers. From 2017, Mr Osborne wants us all to be able to switch water providers as he claims it will reduce bills and encourage competition between suppliers. And after all it’s worked so well with the energy industry that he also wants to create “new laws” to ensure that “people can easily switch energy companies” in order to save money on bills, because after all this time, it seems it’s still just too difficult.
But now the Chancellor is also targeting phone and broadband providers. He is apparently set to demand that mobile phone companies immediately unlock customers' handsets when their contract expires, in a move that would save users a total of £48million a year. He obviously hasn’t spared a thought for all those pop-up shops and market traders who make their living charging you for unlocking, however.
The chancellor also plans to launch an investigation into whether broadband providers are “misleading customers” by hiding/obscuring or otherwise making it an intelligence test to be able to work out how much your internet package actually costs. This is part of a wider fight against ridiculous terms and conditions, and the Government’s ‘Better Deal’. The Chancellor has further announced that our buddies over at Which!!! will get the chance to shout at work with businesses to “change the way they present their terms and conditions, particularly online,” which will “help ensure there are no surprises for consumers.” Which!!! found that nine in ten (90%) agree to terms and conditions when buying a product or service online in the last year, but only 16% say they actually read them, with the most common reasons for saving yourself those minutes of your time being that they are too long (65%), that it’s too hard to find the important pieces of information (38%) and that they are just too confusing (33%).
Finally, George is ranting at schools, by insisting that there is more than one officially sanctioned school uniform supplier in an area to drive down costs for hardworking families. Because we’re all in it together.
"This broad package of reforms will make markets work better for families," Mr Osborne said.
"It's the government's responsibility to help foster the right conditions for competition and investment across the UK - that's why the concrete steps we're announcing make sure government, regulators and local authorities all play their part in promoting competition and removing market distortions."
Richard Lloyd, the director of consumer group Which!!!, added: “No one should have to read endless pages of baffling legal jargon just to make sure there are no unwelcome surprises in a contract. More must be done to ensure consumers can easily understand what they’re signing up to. We look forward to working with companies to simplify their terms so people know what they’re getting when they sign on the dotted line.”