The Jersey Financial Services Commission has launched a campaign this year to raise awareness in respect of the mis-selling of financial products. Of particular concern are cases when individuals with limited resources and little or no knowledge of complex investments have been advised to invest in high-risk products that are suitable for sophisticated and experienced investors only.
Here are some key points to remember when taking advise about a financial investment:
- You may have a good relationship with your investment adviser but remember, ultimately this is a business transaction. In a small community, the lines between business and friendship can easily blur. Are you too close to the person advising you?
- Assess the advice on the merits. Do you properly and fully understand what the risks are: Can you clearly explain those risks to a family member or friend in just a few short sentences?
- Most members of the public are retail customers and not sophisticated investors – is the product been put forward for your consideration intended for the retail market or is it only suitable for sophisticated and experienced investors? If you don’t know the answer to this question, ask.
- If you are invited to sign documents, make sure you have read and understood the contents of those documents. If you need more time, you are entitled to take it. Has your investment adviser set out in writing the key risk factors relating to your product? Do you agree with the risk profile that has been ascribed to you by your adviser? If you disagree, say so.
- If you are advised to cash in early a relatively low risk investment or a pension, be extremely careful before agreeing to do so. This is particularly so if you are at or near retirement age.
- Take a step back and ask: does it sound too good to be true?
The Financial Services Ombudsman is able to adjudicate on complaints arising from the mis-selling of financial products and the obvious advantage of this system is that the investor does not incur costs by engaging the Ombudsman. However, the Ombudsman cannot consider complaints arising from events prior to 1st January 2010 and can only award a maximum of £150,000 in compensation. For those investors who have suffered losses in excess of this sum, or who acquired a financial product prior to 2010, the appropriate step is to bring a claim in the Royal Court.
The majority of us will have had personal experience with specific charities. For many, it is important to support these charities after our death so that their services can continue to provide a benefit and make a difference. Leaving a bequest to a charity in your Will is a great way of doing this.
When leaving a bequest some may have a specific purpose in mind for the bequest they are making, however it is important to bear in mind that there are a vast number of charities, some with very specific aims and some with a wide and general purpose. Is it possible therefore, to bequeath money to a charity and specify how they put that money to use? The short answer is that in general, it is not possible to specifically direct how you would like your money to be used. This is because once a bequest has been made the funds belong to the charity and they are free to decide how best to use it. Having said this, it is possible to express a wish in your Will that the money be used for a specific purpose. This will give the charity a clear idea of how you intended the money to be used even if it is not binding. One of the most common examples that we see, is a bequest to a medical charity, with a wish expressed that the money to be used for research purposes.
Advocate Zoe Blomfield, Managing Partner
t: +44 (0) 1534 888666
HAND LUGGAGE put in the hold on a busy flight might seem like a mild inconvenience – but if your bag gets lost, stolen or damaged, it might not be covered by your travel insurance.
More of us are opting to travel with just hand luggage opting out of paying to check in a bag. However, this often means there are too many cabin bags to fit in the overhead lockers and airline staff need to stow a certain number in the hold.
Consumer watchdog Which? found that the leading five UK travel insurance companies including Aviva, LV and Axa don’t cover valuables placed in the hold for loss, theft or damage.
Which? is warning travellers to take any valuables out of their hand luggage before they hand it over to cabin crew.
Another issue with having to check your bag unexpectedly is waiting to pick it up from the baggage carousel. If this process is delayed and a passenger misses a connecting flight as a result, airlines are not required to pay compensation.
These days, it is highly likely that passengers may have their cabin bags taken and put in the hold, because planes simply don’t have the capacity to takes all bags in the cabin.
If you have to put a bag in the hold at the last minute, try to remove wallets, keys, laptops and other valuables. If any items go missing from the hand luggage bag that you had intended to keep with you, do make clear to the airline that you expect compensation.
Make sure that you know if your own travel insurance covers this eventuality before you travel.
Both Jersey Consumer Council and Citizens Advice Jersey have received numerous telephone calls and emails from concerned landline only JT customers in relation to the costs being introduced for paper bills and payment choices, other than direct debits.
Your heartfelt comments, frustrations and anger have all been shared with managers from JT. It has to be recognised that we cannot stop the tide of change but we can help consumers to move with the tide as much as possible.
Over the last few days we have been talking to JT on a daily basis to sort out some steps to help the vulnerable and land line only customers who are overwhelmed and frightened by the proposed changes.
The JT team are sympathetic and have listened to all of your questions, comments and criticisms. The following options are being offered to help;
- JT Prime talk customers with no other products on a monthly Bill can switch to a quarterly bill to reduce bill charges
- JT customers with multiple bills can arrange to have all their products on one bill to avoid duplicate charges
- JT will contact selected Prime Talk customers with more information on Direct Debit payment options
- You don’t have to print your bills – if you have an iPad for example but no printer you can still opt to pay using traditional methods i.e. cheque or cash (albeit at a charge) you will need to write down the Account number
JT have assured us that they ‘always abide by the direct debit guarantee and distribute bills at least 5 working days prior to a direct debit taken out.’
We are still talking to JT, as consumers continue to contact us with ideas and initiatives to help our community.
Dominic Vye, JT’s Head of Commercial Development, said: “The new billing structure aligns JT with the vast majority of our customers, who receive their bills online and pay by Direct Debit. As their numbers have grown so has the cost of paper billing and administering non-Direct Debit payments.
“But we were always conscious that some customers would be affected, which is why we are working closely with groups such as the JCC to make this transition as smooth as possible”.
If you still have concerns please telephone the Jersey Consumer Council on 611161 or leave a message.
Having found our Mince Pie tasting in 2015 so revealing we decided to put Christmas Puddings to the taste and price test this year. Taste testers helped us from Citizens Advice Jersey, Trading Standards, the Channel Island Competition and Regulatory Authorities and 4insight, a local Market Reserach Company. Our 5 testers (we had two testers from Trading Standards as one was an entrant to the Great British Bake off 2015) each tester could award a maximum of 25 points per pudding; the clear winner was the most expensive of our pudding purchases.
The testers noted that the complexity of microwave cooking such as microwave for 2 minutes, rest for a minute, cook for 40 seconds and then rest again seemed to have benefits when it comes to the final texture. Detailed below are the scores from the ‘blind’ tasting. Now it is your turn to see if you agree with our testers!
Puddings Tested…full results will be published week commencing 28th November in our all island newsletter.
|Brand of Christmas Pudding|
|Irresistible Rich & Fruity|
|Marks & Spencer|
|Classic Recipe Pudding|
|The Collection Intensely Fruity|
|Tesco Finest Pudding|
|Tesco Christmas Pudding|
|Essential Cider & Sherry|
|6 Month Matured|
Settle down with a warm drink and peruse our Christmas survival tips…ranging from call out charges to buying on line and the risks of fake products.
- Buying Online
In most cases if you shop online with a Jersey, UK or EU trader you have a right to cancel and receive a full refund, even if you just don’t like the goods or have simply changed your mind.
This is in addition to your normal statutory rights. There are some exceptions and time limits apply. Check it out before you buy. Extra tips here… http://www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je/consumer-skills/shopping-online/
- Product Safety
Be safe this Christmas. Follow the instructions and appropriate warnings. Make sure toys are CE marked and follow the intended age warnings.
- Know who you are buying from
If you are shopping online make sure you know who and where the trader is based. For example don’t assume you are buying from Amazon when you may be buying from an Amazon seller outside the EU.
Your goods may not comply with European safety standards, they may take a long time to arrive and the cost of returning them may be uneconomical.
Don’t be tempted to buy really cheap branded goods online. Electrical goods may be a fire or electrical shock hazard and perfumes and cosmetics may contain harmful substances.
- Additional Protection
You get additional protection when you buy goods or services over £100 if you paid using your credit card. If something goes wrong and the trader won’t help, the credit card company may have to step in.
- Christmas Loans
If you have to borrow money, make sure they are a reputable lender. Do you understand exactly what you are signing up to and what will happen if your financial situation gets worse? Is the lender a subscriber to the Jersey Code of Consumer Lending? See www.gov.je/tradingstandards/consumerlending
- Call out Charges
If you have to call out a tradesman for an emergency repair during this festive season make sure you know what the ‘call out’ or ‘minimum charge’ will be before you agree. Make sure you both understand what work will be carried out, what it will cost (or how it will be calculated) and when and how the trader expects payment.
- Faulty Goods
You have statutory rights if goods are faulty or not fit for purpose. Try to keep gift receipts as it will help if things go wrong and don’t delay in complaining.
- Unwanted Gifts
Your statutory rights do not apply if you simply changed your mind. Check out the store’s returns policy before you buy. Remember if you bought online, you may have additional rights.
- Recall and Safety Notices
Trading Standards publish product recalls and safety warnings. To sign up for notifications, visit www.mygov.je
You can select the category of goods you are interested in, for example food, toys, electrical goods and nursery products.
Finally, do you know where to get help? Trading Standards offer a free and confidential Consumer Advice Service. The drop in service is located under the clock in the Central Market. You don’t need an appointment. Alternatively you can call on 448160 or email email@example.com
In August this year a blaze ripped through an 18 storey high rise in London. It took 120 firefighters to put it out. The cause was believed to be an Indesit tumble dryer which was subject to a safety notice issued by Whirlpool.
Alison de Bourcier, Director of Trading Standards in Jersey is in contact with Whirlpool UK and receiving local updates. She estimates as many as 5,000 units were supplied in Jersey between April 2004 and September 2015, however many of these will have come to the end of their natural life.
Whirlpool appointed two local service agents who are carrying out modifications. At the end of July, 1,249 Jersey consumers had registered with Whirlpool customer services for the free of charge modification. The safety notice only affects a number of models of Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline tumble dryers. Retailers in Jersey were quick to respond to the Whirlpool safety notice in checking that any new stock being supplied had been modified. Whilst the agents are working through the list of registered customers, Alison de Bourcier would once again advise consumers to check if there model requires modification by visiting https://safety.hotpoint.eu or alternatively call a dedicated helpline (0800 151 0905). She is also encouraging Islanders to register for notification of other product recalls and safety notices published on MyGov (www.mygov.je).
“It is increasingly difficult for consumers and businesses to keep up to speed with product recalls and safety notices. Safety is our primary concern.
It is really important that you are informed of any potential safety issues and know what to do if you think you have an affected product.”
Whilst there are mounting pressures in the UK for Whirlpool to do more, Trading Standards are reminding consumers who may be awaiting a modification to;
- make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on using and maintaining your electrical appliances, including checking and cleaning the filter after every cycle and ensure proper dryer venting
- don’t put appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwasher on when you are going to bed or going out
- turn off electrical appliances when they are not in use
- fit smoke and or heat detectors to your home. You should have at least one smoke detector on each level of your home and they should be tested weekly
- never tackle a fire yourself; get out, stay out and call 999 If you need help in identifying if your tumble dryer has been affected please contact Trading Standards on 448160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Consumer Group is talking openly and honestly
- Jersey Condor Consumer Group is delighted to report that they are engaging in increasingly open and constructive discussions with Condor’s Senior Management Team, to address the frustrations that many passengers have recently been experiencing.
- Issues that the Condor Consumer Group has been tackling, at a grass roots level, include:- passenger timetabling and reliability; fare structures; communication between the ferry operator and its passengers – particularly with regard to handling delays – and on-board practicalities and comfort. Members have also challenged Condor on the reliability of the Liberation vessel; contingency planning and how the company bases its decisions, when planning the services it offers.
- The Group has contributed to Condor’s ‘Comprehensive Service Review’, commissioned by the States of Jersey; the States of Guernsey and Condor itself.
- Chaired by the Jersey Consumer Council, the Condor Consumer Group, which was formed in May 2016, has now met five times and comprises senior managers and customer services staff from Condor (including CEO Paul Luxon) and a dozen passenger representatives (selected to reflect the broad customer profile using Condor’s services between France, Guernsey and the UK).
- The Jersey Consumer Council was asked to chair the Condor Consumer Group by Senator Lyndon Farnham, to remove the forum from the political arena and any potential conflicts of interest. The Consumer Council has substantial expertise in the consumer and travel sectors and, whilst it has no remit to enforce changes of business practice at Condor, it was felt by the Senator that the Council could provide the impartiality and support required to optimise the efforts of the Group and the impetus to encourage any changes required.
Executive officer of the Jersey Consumer Council, Anne King, who chairs the Condor Consumer Group comments: “We are delighted that this positive-minded, independent, collaborative forum has opened up a constructive face-to-face dialogue between both parties – our aim is to focus on working with the team at Condor to improve the aspects of their service which they CAN alter, rather than just criticising the company for the things that they can’t.
“We have used the first few meetings to get to know the specific needs of passengers and understand the nitty gritty of the frustrations that they have been experiencing. Similarly, the sessions have given Condor staff the opportunity to explain some of the limitations placed upon them by circumstances beyond their control and to look at how they can address passenger frustrations, in order to optimise the service the company provides.“We are looking forward to seeing service improvements, resulting from the Group’s discussions, in the near future – the Group’s Condor representatives have reassured us that the company is looking into the issues we have raised very seriously. Based on the meetings we have had so far, we are confident that the Group can serve to greatly improve relations between Condor and the passengers it serves. ”
Chief executive officer of Condor Ferries, Paul Luxon said: “We are pleased that the Jersey Condor Consumer Group has provided us with a positive forum whereby we can look at the finer details of how we best serve our passengers. We have also shared with members of the group our operating improvement plans which are well underway, along with our improved reliability, punctuality and customer satisfaction statistics, to show where we have made and continue to make, progress for our passengers.”
- all people involved with the project are competent
- the risks to health and safety are properly managed
- sufficient time and resources are available for the work to be carried out safely
- information about known risks, such as the presence of asbestos materials, is provided to those involved with the project
- if more than one contractor is involved, one of them is appointed, in writing, as the Principal Contractor, and ensure that a construction phase plan is prepared before work starts.
In addition, if the construction work is going to last more than 30 working days, or involve more than 500 man days (eg 10 operatives working for 50 days) then additional steps must be taken to ensure that:
a health and safety project coordinator (HSPC) is appointed in writing certain health and safety related information is provided to the HSPC
- retain and provide access to a health and safety file which is prepared for the project
Will you be taking our ‘Jersey Price Perception Survey 2016?
In a bid to get a fair deal for Island consumers, we are taking up a challenge to look into the transparency of our high street retailers’ pricing mechanisms.
Always keen for a challenge, we picked up the gauntlet, thrown down by a JEP reader, to unravel the pricing policies of some of the Island’s high street retailers, to ensure that consumers are getting the fairest deal.
The Consumer Council were challenged to look into our high street prices including UK retailers and franchises trading locally, who are sometimes perceived to be charging customers the same prices for goods in Jersey as they do in the UK – suggesting that they are not always removing VAT.
In the first instance, we have decided to ask local consumers to tell us what they think and, to this end, we have set up a survey on our Facebook page to help us to assess the real perceptions around local high street pricing policies.
We obviously want to hear from as many people as possible and we are urging consumers to click onto our Facebook page or via this link Price Perceptions Survey and spend five minutes completing our simple questionnaire.
This important feedback will enable us to go to our local retailers, armed with meaningful findings about the public perception of their pricing structures.
We want to give retailers the opportunity to address these perceptions and perhaps look at the transparency of their pricing mechanisms or tackle any misconceptions that exist among consumers. We feel that it’s important that we understand how sellers compile the prices that they charge – for example, how much of what we pay is down to the retailers’ overheads.
We all live and operate within a small Island community and the reality is that neither retailers nor consumers could survive without one another here in Jersey.
We hope that this initiative will help to improve understanding of the challenges faced by all parties and ensure that Island consumers are getting the fairest deal possible