Newsletter

Jersey Consumer Council

Money Matters Category

Managing our finances is a fundamental part of daily life. You’ve worked hard to earn your money and we can provide you with some helpful tips on how you can optimise and keep control of your domestic finances.

GST and the De-Minimis Waiver

May 19, 2017 Money Matters No Comments
parcels

Customs Explain that the De Minimis Waiver is intended to benefit an individual making a single purchase worth under £240 and shipping it to Jersey

All goods are liable to GST on import regardless of value. The de-Minimis waiver under which GST is not charged is not a right but an administrative concession designed to manage the overwhelming numbers of consignments and letter packets that would otherwise have to be charged up. The cost of handling such high volumes of low value goods outweighs the amount that would actually be collected. The de-minimis waiver ministerial decision can be found by clicking https://www.gov.je/government/planningperformance/pages/ministerialdecisions.aspx?docid=0995E584-AA0F-4CA0-96A9-A5BDF532FB64

 

The de-Minimis waiver was intended to benefit an individual making a single purchase worth under £240 and shipping it to Jersey. It was not intended to allow individuals, or indeed businesses, to make several purchases all under £240 from the same supplier on the same day hoping they will arrive separately. The Customs & Immigration Service web page on gov.je https://www.gov.je/TaxesMoney/GST/GSTCustomers/Pages/DeclaringPaying.aspx#anchor-1 clearly states that “If you order multiple items (consignments) that arrive as one shipment, we will treat this as a single delivery.”


Funeral costs comparison

March 28, 2017 Money Matters No Comments
Funeral

Funeral costs comparison


Death should not be a topic which we all avoid discussing – it is best to talk about death regardless of your age; remember it is a fact of life and your funeral service shouldn’t leave your family in debt.

We would recommend that you visit each of the Funeral Directors in Jersey to view their premises
and meet the staff who would be caring for your family. Each business offers bespoke personalised services and your relationship with the Funeral Director is really important throughout the planning and service stages.

“Understandable lack of shopping around by consumers at their lowest ebb, and an industry where costs can be opaque; the reality is a huge range in pricing, which could potentially save consumers hundreds of pounds”

Simon Cox, Consumer Protection Proposition Lead, Royal London Group1 SunLife’s annual 2016 report titled ‘The Cost of Dying’ is the fastest rising of any fixed cost in the UK – rising much faster than living costs, such as rent, food, utilities, insurance or clothing: ‘the funeral – which makes up 44% of the cost of dying – has soared by 5.5% in a single year. The average funeral in the UK now costs £3,897 which is more than double what it was when SunLife first started tracking funeral prices in 2004’.

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Mis-selling of Financial Products

February 22, 2017 Money Matters No Comments
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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.

 


Trading Standards & Consumer Council Top Ten for Christmas

November 3, 2016 Consumer Skills, Home life, Money Matters, Top tips No Comments
star-copy

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.

  1. 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/

 

  1. Product Safety

Be safe this Christmas. Follow the instructions and appropriate warnings. Make sure toys are CE marked and follow the intended age warnings.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1.  Fakes


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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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 tradingstandards@gov.je


New Construction Regulations & You!

July 26, 2016 Home life, Money Matters No Comments
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 Domestic clients : roles and responsibilities  under the new regulations
A new set of Regulations for the construction industry, the Health and Safety (Management in
Construction) (Jersey) Regulations 2016 (Construction Regulations) come into force in Jersey on
1 October 2016.
These Regulations place legal duties on a number of people involved with a construction project, including clients, to help ensure health and safety is addressed from the very early stages of planning and design, through construction to eventual demolition of a building.
The Regulations make an important distinction between‘domestic clients’ and ‘commercial clients’,who commission construction work as part of a business.
Domestic clients and the Regulations
Domestic clients are exempt from the Regulations but the duties imposed on clients by the Regulations do not disappear – they are passed to other people, usually the designer but if no designer is involved, the contractor in control of the construction work.
What does this mean to the householder having work done on their own home?
Whilst the householder (ie the domestic client) has no legal responsibilities for the work, the
designer or contractor carrying out the work needs to ensure that certain things are done in order
to meet their own legal duties. This includes making sure that:
  • 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
Making sure the above matters are addressed is likely to incur some financial cost, which should be proportionate to the size and complexity of the project.
The domestic client is therefore likely to see a charge added by the designer, or principal contractor, as relevant, to cover these expenses.
It has been found, however, that paying a little extra at the planning stages helps with the smooth running of the project, with fewer unseen problems and delays, and can save money in the long term.
Can a domestic client refuse to pay for the costs arising from the requirements under the new Construction Regulations?
A domestic client is not legally responsible for discharging the duties imposed on clients under the Regulations and, as such, does not have any legal obligation to pay for any costs incurred in this respect. However, as the designer or contractor is legally obliged to ensure the necessary measures are in place, if the domestic client does not agree to cover the cost, they are unlikely to find any professionals willing to undertake the work on the property -as the designer (or contractor) will effectively have to cover the cost themselves.
It is anticipated that the cost will become a standard part of the fee proposal or quote provided
by the person responsible for ensuring the client’s duties are carried out.
For more information contact:
Health and Safety Inspectorate

Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5pm – Visits by appointment only

Health and Safety Inspectorate
PO Box 55
La Motte Street
St Helier
Jersey
JE4 8PE


Are We Getting a Fair Deal on the High Street?

June 8, 2016 Consumer Skills, Money Matters No Comments
Got an opinion on retail prices

Happy with your local stores?

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


Holiday fraud: look before you book

April 20, 2016 Consumer Skills, Home life, Insurances, Money Matters, Scams, Top tips, Travel and Transport No Comments
airoplane

Holiday fraud: look before you book

Get Safe Online is joining forces today with ABTA (the UK’s leading travel association), Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to warn you about the dangers posed by holiday booking fraud. Anyone booking a holiday either in the UK or abroad is at risk.

For information and advice on safe holiday and travel booking, click here

 

We all look forward to our holidays, and often they can cost a considerable amount of money, which most of us simply cannot afford to lose. Unfortunately, more and more people are being affected by holiday fraud, which means that not only do you not get your holiday … you normally end up losing your money too. The holiday, accommodation or flight they paid for doesn’t exist, or the booking hasn’t been made.

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We’ve done something awesome for one autistic young man, and he did something even better for us …. Our new treasure trove of consumer information and at £0 cost to us!

April 15, 2016 Consumer Skills, Money Matters No Comments
Jet-logo

We’ve done something awesome for one autistic young man,
and he did something even better for us ….
Our new treasure trove of consumer information and at £0 cost to us!

An extensive, new on-line resource, containing invaluable consumer information is available, with the unveiling of Jersey Consumer Council’s new website www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je  Developed together with young entrepreneur, Jonathan Channing and supported by the Jersey Employment Trust and the Community Jobs Fund, the new site promises to equip Island consumers with a wealth of useful material, to assist them in making informed purchasing decisions.

Chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council explains:  “The guidance and lobbying materials the Jersey Consumer Council has been producing for over two decades, has been driven by what Island consumers would like to see.  The representation and guidance we provide is based on extensive research – undertaken by ourselves or other agencies.  Over time, we have compiled a huge amount of useful data; articles; tips; newsletters and advice and we decided that it would make sense to provide as much of this information as possible in one, accessible, regularly updated ‘library’.

“The easiest way to do this was to make our treasure trove of consumer information available on-line, but this required us to upgrade our website facility – something we lacked the relevant skills to do in-house.

“The Jersey Consumer Council is an independent body, with limited funding and so we applied to The States of Jersey Community Jobs Fund (CJF) and Jersey Employment Trust (JET) for funding and support, in which we were successful.

“Through a joint initiative with both the CJF and the JET, we were put in touch with Jonathan Channing, a freelance coder, who was looking to broaden his work experience.  Jonathan greatly impressed at interview, with both his skills base and the extensive preparation he had undertaken, on his own initiative, in advance of meeting us.  This included expanding his coding knowledge to incorporate Word Press and producing a mock-up of how he saw our website looking!

“Jonathan has recently been diagnosed with Autism, which he sees (as do we!) as a distinct advantage in his chosen career.  What he describes as his ‘unconventional thought processes’ are definitely an asset when it comes to the world of coding.

“We are delighted that Jonathan has been able to join our team to establish the Consumer Council’s new website, of which we are very proud.  We think that Island consumers will find it an amazingly useful source of important information, when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

“We are welcoming feedback from Islanders regarding the usability of our new site and the information it contains.  We’d also like to hear about any other specific areas of advice and research that consumers would like to see featured within the resources available at www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je.  Islanders can contact us by phone; email or through the social media links on the new site.

“In the meantime, we would like to thank Jonathan and congratulate him on the successful establishment and development of the Consumer Council’s new website.  We wish him all the very best in his future entrepreneurial endeavours.”


Can a Service Charge be Added to our Alcoholic Drinks Bill?

November 16, 2015 Money Matters No Comments
drink-bar

Question …Can a service charge be added to our alcoholic drinks bill?

Answer…..Yes if the restaurant or hotel or bar clearly advertises outside of the premises that they will add a service charge to drinks.

Under the Licensing (Jersey) Law 1974 Restaurants are obliged to display a list of the prices charged for intoxicating liquor (Article 42(c)) and for meals and refreshments other than intoxicating liquor (Article 42 (d)). It is an offence to charge a higher price than the price displayed.

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What in the World is going on with Oil Prices?

November 16, 2015 Money Matters, Utilites No Comments
oil

What in the World is going on with Oil Prices?

February 2015

This week, the price of Brent crude oil fell to its lowest level in six years with the price of a barrel of Bent crude decreasing by 55% from $105 in June 2014 to $47 now.

So why has the price of oil fallen? There are principally 3 main reasons;
Firstly, America has become the world’s largest oil producer through ‘fracking’, the process of fracking is the practice of injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to extract crude oil and natural gas from dense rock formations. Though the USA does not export crude oil, it now imports much less, creating a lot of spare supply.

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