Rogue Buyers

When I was with the BBC I presented a daily speech-only consumer and current affairs programme which was specifically designed to place the BBC in the best possible light as some kind of agent of the people. I was sent at great cost to the licence payer to places like BBC Bristol and White City to learn more about consumer law, meeting with the BBC lawyers and hooking-up with Matt Allwright and Alan Dedicoat. This illustrated to me that the BBC had, and perhaps still has a massive financial commitment to all things consumer based. All this given I think we’ll begin to see less and less of this type of media show as, ironically, the consumer tyres of a formula that has well outlived its welcome. It was fun for a while, hearing or seeing the poor hapless helpless buyer being cuddled as the BBC passed by sprinkling their protective magic dust of results, success and compensation. Claiming that this or that could never have happened without the intervention of the BBC. For obvious reasons what was never discussed was the rogue buyer. Those consumers who set out to deceive the contractor or retailer. The thousands of people that every year cost the insurance companies a fortune in fraudulent claims. I’d love to see a show where Matt turns up with his hapless pall on their motorbike to expose the man or woman who’ve deliberately withheld payment of a bill, even though the work carried out by this or that double glazing company was exactly as agreed. Perhaps another channel could pick-up on the idea. Here’s another potential twist. Rarely do the media cover stories of customer satisfaction derived from a telephone call ‘out of the blue’. Call centres generally get a bad press, even though, in certain circumstances, what they have to say may actually end up saving you and me a considerable amount of money. To illustrate this point, a year or so ago I received a call at home from someone claiming that if I signed up to a fixed-price energy agreement with my electricity supplier I could save a considerable amount of money. OK, I thought: let’s do it. That one call saved me around £800 on my energy bill. Good news for me, I took a risk, but generally we’ve been warned-off engaging in conversation with the cold caller by the sceptical tones of Anne Robinson as she reads her producers words from an autocue. By chance, the other day I met a man at his place of work whose job involves calling you and me out of the blue with a specific offer. Check your credit card bills for insurance charges. These can be as much as £20 per month from the time you first agreed to have the card. He told me that if one is self employed this type of insurance protection is void and irrelevant. His job is to get all of that money back for a small fee. Excellent.


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