Newsletter

Jersey Consumer Council

Home life Category

This section of our site contains a variety of informative articles and top tips regarding family, personal relationships and domestic interests as a whole.

Who is CICRA and what does it do?

October 27, 2017 Home life, Money Matters, Telecommunications No Comments

CICRA (the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities) is the independent organisation working on your behalf to ensure you receive the best value, choice and access to high quality services but what does that mean in practice for you, the consumer?

Over a series of articles, we will explain a bit more about CICRA’s role across the Channel Islands and particularly here in Jersey.

CICRA is one of several local organisations, including Trading Standards, Citizens Advice and the Jersey Consumer Council, that work to inform and protect the rights of islanders. As individual organisations we are relatively small but in partnership we support each other to ensure the best outcomes for you.

CICRA regulates the telecoms sector, Jersey Post and Ports of Jersey (the airport, harbour and marinas) and is responsible for administering and enforcing the local competition law

CICRA informs–

CICRA provides the information you need to make important purchasing decisions.

We publish telecoms customer satisfaction ratings and undertake independent mystery shopping surveys on the different telecoms providers. We’ll shortly be publishing the results of the first ever check on local mobile coverage as well as the results of the latest mobile mast emissions audit. We’re looking at quality of service delivered by Ports of Jersey at the airport, harbour and marinas and will be reporting on that later this year.

We involve government and local interest groups when changes to policy or law should be considered; for example our work on reviewing the supply of road fuel in Jersey led to a change in the law to require prices to be visibly displayed from the roadside at all outlets ensuring you are in a position to be fully informed and to shop around.

CICRA protects–

CICRA protects local business and consumers from anticompetitive behaviour by enforcing competition law.

We watch out for any businesses potentially causing consumer harm. This may be price fixing between competitors or   unfairly obstructing other providers from serving you. The competition law spans all business sectors and not just those we regulate.

For the telecoms sector, Jersey Post and Ports of Jersey, we have a more active role in setting ‘the rules’ by which the businesses operate as we licence these businesses. We can set prices, quality of service targets and hold these businesses to account when things go wrong – all to ensure that the interests of fair dealing businesses and local consumers are protected. For example, we’ve recently required JT to reduce its landline prices by 13% over the next two years and we’re keeping a closer watch on Jersey Post quality of service after it experienced a dip in performance.

We can prevent or amend proposed mergers and acquisitions where there would be a detrimental impact on choice locally. Recently we made sure Sandpiper’s acquisition of the Costcutter shops was modified to protect consumer choice in St Ouen, St John and Green Island.

While we are able to resolve most issues informally sometimes this is not possible; we have the power to mandate changes and to issue fines. This is very much a last resort. We’ve fined the States of Jersey for breaching the law after it created a monopoly for itself in the emptying of septic and tight tanks by restricting access to another business, Bellozane from operating in the same sector. We’ve also fined JT when it tried to fix the minimum selling price of its pay-as-you-go SIM packs.

CICRA needs to ensure it continues to focus on what is important to you as a local consumer. We’re very grateful for the help provided by islanders recently, through participation in our annual telecoms satisfaction surveys and our focus groups discussing the quality of service provided by Ports of Jersey.

In the next article we will explain in more detail CICRA’s role with the harbour, airport and marinas in Jersey.


Take time to think and plan when cooking on a limited budget

September 6, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments

Eating on a budget, finding timeand having the confidence to prepare meals from scratch, are why sometimes many find it difficult. With a bit of planning, using leftovers and just giving it a go, it does get easier.

A good place to start is a weekly menu plan and a budget, which will help you get into the habit of knowing what your weekly shop will cost. Allocate one or two days for a pasta dish, they are cheap, quick with many variations, such as meatballs and spaghetti, ham and pea or simply fresh tomato sauce, all of which should cost under £5.

Sunday is a great day for a roast as you will have more time, plus you can use the leftovers for a dish or two during the week. Why not buy a bigger chicken and strip the carcass down to create a chicken and leek pie on Monday, or a chicken curry with some simple flat- breads another day?

Once you become confident with creating really simple dishes, you’ll find yourself building several weekly meal planners which you can just use time and time again. Because after all, we need these things to be simple.

Caring Cooks have a range of cost effective recipes allowing you to try your planning, shopping and cooking skills. Caring Cooks are treating us all to a Cookery demonstration 27th September Coop Grande Marche St. Helier 12:30 – 13:30 pm.

Let’s get started…

  1. Work out your weekly grocery budget (planners available by post or http://www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je/money-matters/budget-planner/).
  2. Plan out a weekly menu (recipes available by post or http://www.caringcooksofjersey.com).
  3. Write out your shopping list; including weight of ingredients.
  4. Be disciplined when you shop and stick to your budget. Where possible ‘Shop the Offers’. Get familiar with your supermarket’s offer cycles.
  5. Allow planning and preparation to be a priority. This gives you timeto batch-cook and freeze where appropriate. There is no need to feel guilty about time spent planning and cooking.
  6. Enjoy your cooking, keep budgeting and planning.

If you would like to learn new skillsand confidence in the kitchen, and are over 16, please get in touch with Caring Cooks to find out more.

Recipes which share ingredients and are simple to make can be found here on Caring Cooks website:

www.caringcooksofjersey.com

 


The importance of taking professional financial advice

August 30, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments

 

Your financial circumstances might sometimes mean that you require professional advice to make sure that you make the correct decisions and take the correct actions.

A professional adviser will help you to prioritise your financial goals and give you an understanding of the bigger picture, taking into account other important factors such as any potential tax implications and investment risk. There are thousands of different financial products and investments available and choosing the right one for you can be difficult and at times confusing.

Do you need financial advice?

You may find it helpful to speak to a financial adviser if you are not sure what you need to do or are feeling confused about the options available to you. Financial advisers can help you with a variety of things, such as:

  • Providing an income after you stop work
  • Saving and investing your money
  • Buying and insuring your home
  • Insuring yourself and your family against illness, disability or premature death
  • Passing your assets on to the next generation tax efficiently
  • Changing personal circumstances such as starting a family, redundancy, divorce or bereavement

Once your financial adviser has recommended a plan to help you achieve your financial goals it should generally be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it remains appropriate to your circumstances and accommodates any changes to your priorities.

What does professional financial advice cost?

Financial advisers usually charge for their services in one of (or a combination of) the following methods:

  • an hourly rate – typically averaging around £150 – £250, but can be higher for specialist advice;
  • a percentage of the money invested – this can vary depending on the size of the initial investment and will typically be 0.5% to 3%. An annual charge for reviewing an investment portfolio is likely to be 0.50%-1%;
  • a fixed project fee – typically £1,000 – £5,000 for a specific piece of research and advice work;
  • some firms may also charge clients a monthly retainer fee of between £50-£100.

Fees vary depending on the experience and qualifications of the adviser and the geographical location of the business.

Advisers are no longer paid commission, except for certain non-investment product recommendations, and they have to explain to you how much the advice will cost you. You will need to agree this and how you will pay for it before any advice is provided.

What should I be looking for when dealing with an adviser?

It is important to understand whether your adviser is regulated to provide investment and financial advice in Jersey.  A regulated advisory business needs to have in place professional indemnity insurance, which would provide their clients with an additional level of security.

A professional regulated adviser will be able to draw your attention to the potential pitfalls of what may seem a fool proof way to get a much better return on your assets. This is becoming more common place because traditional methods of generating returns on your capital such as bank deposits and low risk investments are currently providing little or low returns than in previous times.

The following list is a prompt for some of the questions you can ask your financial adviser.

  • Are you regulated to provide financial advice?
  • What is you experience?
  • What types of clients do you work with?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • Do you offer an area of expertise?
  • How much will the advice cost?
  • What information will you need from me?
  • What are the risks associated with the recommendation?

Financial planning involves revealing detailed personal financial information and can involve divulging information about your goals and ambitions, so you need to be comfortable in the company of an adviser. It is worth meeting a few to determine who you are most comfortable working with in an ongoing professional relationship.

And finally..

There are two great truths when considering investments

  1. If it looks too good to be true it generally is
  2. Don’t put your investment eggs in one basket

 


Trading Standards credit card warning: online payments where you lose protection

August 30, 2017 Banking, Home life, Money Matters No Comments

A little-known flaw in the Consumer Credit Act may put Jersey shoppers at risk of losing their money if things go wrong.

 

Under Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act, shoppers who make payments between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card can get their money back if the goods turn out to be faulty, not as described or don’t arrive. The UK law makes the retailer and credit card company jointly liable. Jersey consumers usually benefit from this protection due to terms and conditions reflecting the UK Consumer Credit Act.

 

However, a little-known loophole revealed by a MoneySavingExpert means that consumers will only be reimbursed if there is a direct link between the customer, their credit card provider and the supplier. If the payment is processed by a third-party company then the protection under Section 75 does not apply.

 

So, if you bought a concert ticket through an agent on a credit card, you may not be able to get your money back using Section 75 if it doesn’t arrive.

The same may apply if you booked a holiday through a travel agent. However, the travel industry may very well have their own financial protection schemes in place.

 

You may also not be covered for credit card transactions made through online payment platforms, such as PayPal, because it breaks the chain between customer and supplier.  However, if the firm you’re buying from has a “Commercial Entity Agreement” you’ll be able to make a claim under Section 75 even if you use PayPal. PayPal has its own Buyer Protection scheme. This covers online purchases made on eBay and other websites if the item does not arrive or match the seller’s description. Property, vehicles, custom-made items and industrial machinery are among some items that are not guaranteed.

 

Amazon is another firm where Section 75 may not apply. Shoppers who buy items on a credit card from third-party suppliers on the online marketplace will not be covered. If you buy directly from Amazon then you could make a claim.

 

Confused, it is not surprising! Trading Standards offers the following advice:

  • Know who you are buying from and who will take your payment
  • Wherever possible put payments on your credit card
  • If you are entitled to protection, you are still covered even if a small proportion, part payment or deposit was paid using your card
  • When things go wrong, don’t delay. If you don’t have Section 75 protection you may alternative protection through platform buyer protection schemes, but these are often time limited.

 

Free confidential consumer advice is available from Trading Standards on 448162 or email tradingstandards@gov.je. You can also drop in, they are in the Central Market under the clock.

 


Occasionally when we buy goods or services we’re asked to pay a deposit… but what are our rights?

August 30, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters No Comments

When we pay a deposit, we are committing to a binding contract with the outstanding payment to be paid at a later date. The natural position of the Law is that the deposit will not be refunded should you decide you do not want the goods or services. You should be aware that the trader may be in a position to pursue you for the outstanding money.

 

For example, when ordering a wedding dress or prom dress, we are usually required to pay something upfront. It is always recommended that you ask whether the amount it is refundable or not, and if it is, ask the person to indicate the term on the receipt or by email.

 

For further advice on this matter or any other consumer issues, please contact Trading Standards on 01534 44160.

 


Sun Screen – Things YOU Need to Know

May 19, 2017 Health Matters, Home life, Travel and Transport No Comments

The Summer Holidays are fast approaching …

Water Resistant

The effectiveness of water – resistant product SPF 30 could drop to SPF 15 after a swim. Plus towel drying is also likely to rub off sunscreen.

 

SPF …

This is an indication of how long sunscreen protects against ultraviolet radiation that’s linked to skin cancer and is the main cause of sunburn (UVB)

 

The SPF number doesn’t relate to the amount of protection a product provides it relates to time from when YOU step into the sunshine, depending on your own skin type – if an SPF30 product is applied correctly it will protect you for 30 times longer than if you wore no sunscreen. The clock doesn’t get reset each time you reapply the time is set for the day and if you don’t apply enough it will not provide its full SPF.

Cancer Research UK says it’s all about ‘How well you put it on’ for example

Most people under-apply sunscreens, using ¼ to ½ the amount required. Using half the required amount of sunscreen only provides the square root of the SPF. So, a half application of an SPF 30 sunscreen only provides an effective SPF of 5.5!


Are you using the correct charger for your device?

May 19, 2017 Home life No Comments

Incorrect charger use exposes weaknesses in the battery and is likely to cause damage.

By using a charger that is too powerful for the device you are charging, it can expose weaknesses in the battery and cause it damage, leading to a shortened life span of the item or in more extreme cases, the battery could fail and pose a fire hazard.  For example, e-cigarette batteries generally run on lower amperage to mobile phone chargers. Nationally there has been a rise in fires involving e-cigarettes; the direct cause being due to failure of battery packs during charging.

 

A spokesperson from Electrical Safety First has commented ‘Always use the charger that is supplied, or designed to be used, with the device.  If a charger with a different amperage is used, this could lead to an incorrect charge being supplied resulting in damage to the battery.  A damaged battery is at risk of catching fire or exploding. Lithium batteries, which are common in products like e-cigarettes and mobile devices, are very sensitive and need to be charged carefully.’

 

When charging devices:

  • always use the correct charger and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Mobile phone chargers are generally too powerful for charging e-cigarettes
  • never charge a battery that has signs of damage, that has been dropped, or has been subjected to impact
  • never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer
  • check that your e-cigarette battery has overcharge or overheat protection
  • remove the battery from charge when complete, don’t overcharge
  • never leave a battery on charge unattended
  • don’t use if wet or exposed to water
  • E-cigarettes -do not over tighten the atomiser or when connecting to the charger
  • ensure that you dispose of batteries correctly

 

If you require any further assistance please contact Trading Standards on 01534 448160.

 

With thanks from Trading Standards & Jersey Fire Service


Digital Assets

April 20, 2017 Home life No Comments

Digital Assets … Spare them a thought

Digital assets should be viewed as a form of property. They can be transferred or bequeathed to those who you wish to receive them by way of a will.

What you will need to consider

Unlike physical property, digital assets are intangible and invisible. The rights of ownership, control and access of digital assets are intertwined with complexities of privacy and security protection as laid out in various service provider policies. It is therefore a good idea to check these before you consider leaving digital assets in your will. Your digital legacy should be divided into ‘digital assets’ and your ‘digital presence’.

Digital assets

will include your music, film and book collections that that you have bought and downloaded online as well as any online bank accounts or investments that you may hold.

Digital presence

includes any social media accounts, e-mail or personal websites which make up your online footprint. In the case of digital presence, many people want to be able to shut down the online accounts of loved ones after their death but may struggle to do so because of the terms of the account’s policy.

Planning ahead

It would be extremely useful for your Executor if you could leave a list of your digital assets, details of your digital presence and a list of all of your online shopping accounts with your will or with a loved one. You will then have dealt with your digital legacy as carefully as you have dealt with your tangible assets.


Charities & Bequest Issues

February 22, 2017 Consumer Skills, Home life No Comments

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


If your hand luggage is put in the hold it might NOT be covered by insurance.

February 22, 2017 Home life, Insurances, Travel and Transport No Comments

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.