Introducing Bitterwallet’s new consumer champion- Ed Miliband?
There are some things you never expect to say. “Don’t put your hand in that blender,” “Don’t eat dirt” and “Wrong hole*” are three such examples, but Ed Miliband? Really?
It’s true. The Labour leader has spotted a little known fact. Companies are out to make as much money as possible out of customers, and customers are, in fact, the voting public. Good old Ed has cast himself in the role of White Knight, defending the lowly consumer from “rip-off Britain” where they are being exploited by “predatory” companies. Stern stuff.
He told The Telegraph: “In every area, you have to call time on the surcharge culture. Making a fair profit is important, but it can’t be done in an underhand and predatory way.” Careful Ed, or you won’t be offered any of those lucrative non-exec directorships when you lose power.
He continued, “it’s about the rules that government sets. This is a specific argument about a number of private services to the public…we’re not proposing to go back on taking the railways into private ownership, but maybe in transition not enough was done to protect the public.” Thinly veiled dig at the Iron Lady herself perhaps? That’ll make him popular with many.
Ed has a top six** hitlist of his priority bugbears:
> Savings fees: Pension firms should be transparent about how much they are charging savers to invest their money. Research presented to the Treasury suggests up to 16 fees and levies can be legitimately applied to private pension schemes, so Ed wants a charges cap.
> Car-parking charges: Railway companies have dramatically increased the cost of parking at stations, with South Eastern recently hiking costs by 16 percent at 50 stations. The cost of parking should be capped – along with season tickets and other fares, which have just gone up by 6%.
> Airline levies: Don’t get us started on these, but Ed, rather than banning stupid fees (like paying their insurance) just thinks these fees should be disclosed upfront with the cost of actual travel to avoid consumers being misled when they come to pay for a fare.
> Bank charges: Ed’s biggest concern is the £2 billion which banks make from unauthorised (and unfathomable) overdraft fees. He supports a new consumer watchdog which will be able to intervene and outlaw excessive fees in the finance sector.
> Consumer helplines: Ed doesn’t like the shifty practice of people being charged “50p a minute just to complain”.
> Energy companies: Labour have alreadysaid they want to break up the country’s energy firms and, again, think transparency to enable proper competition is essential.
Here at Bitterwallet we don’t really care who champions the cause of the consumer, if it means fairer prices for all, we are all for it. We don't even care if this is a cynical attempt to win over middle-class voters after alienating the trade unions if it gives us a proper pocket effect***. Vote Labour. Now.
* If you had a square peg, obviously
** Perhaps he couldn’t count to ten?
*** not THAT type of pocket effect.