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Jersey Consumer Council

Consumer News

Looking to make an investment? Taking Financial Advice?

July 10, 2018 Banking, Budget No Comments

Remember it’s your money.

Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions or complain.

Don’t be too trusting, be wary of promises of a high rate of return with apparently little or no risk. All investments carry some degree of risk. Greater returns mean greater risk i.e. potential to lose some or all of the money you have invested.

  1. Double check everything, and don’t feel pressured into making an investment. Ensure you are given enough time to read through the product documentation and consider your options.
  2. Ask the independent financial adviser IFA [who should be registered with the Jersey Financial Services Commission {JFSC}] to explain in your language about their investment options and the risks. Licensed advisers are required to fully assess your attitude to risk, capacity for loss and ensure solutions are suitable. Ask for evidence of these key points.
  3. Do not sign any investment/product agreements that you do not fully understand. Always read the small print and any supplementary documentation. There may be hidden terms and conditions. Take the paperwork away and read it in your own time. If you don’t understand something ask for help.
  4. Consider spreading the risk between investments; Avoid ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’ – splitting your money between a few investments could help to reduce potential losses
  5. Know exactly what you want; duration of investment, do you need access to any of the money during the lifetime of the investment. How could this be changed by an unexpected change in your circumstances? Are there any penalties for withdrawing your money early?
  6.  Ask the IFA to explain how their recommendations meet your purpose; if what they say doesn’t match what they have provided in writing, be wary.
  7. Challenge the information, ask lots of questions. Make sure you fully understand the proposed investment and how much you could potentially lose. Only invest if you are completely informed, know the risks and how returns are generated.
  8. Do your research. Is the IFA licenced by the JFSC? What’s their feedback like – can anyone recommend them? Always research the person and the company selling you the investment, even if you know them personally and believe them to be trustworthy. You may have developed a good relationship but regard this as a business transaction and always ask yourself whether they are acting in your best interests – not their own
  9. Beware of putting money into “can’t miss”, “once in a lifetime” and “guaranteed return” opportunities or investments in which your adviser claims to have already invested their own money.
  10. Is there a choice of investments on offer or is your adviser just proposing a single product? And be wary if you are you being invited to cash in an existing investment such as your pension.
  11. Consider what compensation may or may not be available should the investment fail or the company selling it become insolvent. Jersey does not have an investor compensation scheme. What would a total loss scenario mean for you?
  12. Never be rushed; always be aware of pushy sales tactics. A professional adviser should never pressure you into making an immediate decision. If you are not given enough time, steer clear.
  13. Reflect, research and take advice. Consider talking to family or a third-party expert before you proceed. Perhaps have someone present when you meet with your adviser, particularly if you do not consider yourself an experienced investor
  14. Do not be fooled by cleverly worded marketing material on websites and in brochures – it could be misleading.
  15. When considering ‘alternative investments’ (e.g. wine, coins, stamps) rather than traditional financial services products, always do your research and understand the associated risks. These products, and usually the companies that sell or advise on them, are not regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission
  16. If you do invest, make sure you monitor the investment and ask for regular updates

You are the client – ask questions and make sure you get the answers so you are fully comfortable with your decision; how long will you be tied in for? Could you lose all your money?


When your bank writes to you.

July 6, 2018 Banking No Comments

If your bank writes to you requesting action on your behalf, here are our recommendations;

  • Do not ignore the request; if you are concerned that it may be a fraudulent letter contact your bank directly and ask. But be advised that potentially NO response from you can ultimately result in your account being closed.
  • Once you are sure that the bank contact is genuine follow the instructions or contact the bank if you are unable to provide the requested information by the deadline, explain the situation and ask for assistance as necessary. If this does not work, complain to the bank, then contact the Channel Islands Financial Services Ombudsman for guidance;

Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO)
P O Box 114
Jersey, Channel Islands
JE4 9QG

01534 748610

enquiries@ci-fo.org

When responding to your bank’s requests for information – keep copies of your letters, notes of conversations, dates and bank responses.

  • Remember that a bank will never contact you by phone, email or letter to you to ask for your account passwords or your PIN number. If you get a call or email ‘out of the blue’ do not assume the telephone number or the email address, the caller may provide you to contact your bank is in fact your bank’s.  The safest approach is for you to call your bank back on their general number (shown on the back of your debit or credit cards or on your statements).  The bank’s call centre staff can transfer you to the appropriate bank department to resolve the matter.
  • Ensure the bank has your up-to-date address and contact details so that you do not miss any important correspondence.

Other banks can be understandably hesitant to open  a new account for you if they know your account at another bank has been closed.

Having your current account closed creates difficulties, for example with missed direct debits. Be mindful of course when setting up any new account to be vigilant that all your regular payments are set up and are not disrupted.

If your bank wants to close your account, they should give you sufficient time to make alternative arrangements. Be sure to ask for an extension, if you need more time.

 


Planning on upgrading your mobile phone soon? Think data & apps Think security ……

June 29, 2018 Telecommunications No Comments

Your mobile stores sensitive data and you should take a moment to ensure you are protecting that data. Nothing complicated, just a quick review and maybe a settings change to enable encryption. Sooner or later you will upgrade when your old one is lost, stolen, or becomes too slow.

Firstly, set a password or PIN to unlock your handset if you have not done so already. Even with phones that support fingerprint or facial recognition, you can set a password to require when switching them on or changing security settings.

Next, enable encryption on your handset. All modern phones support this.

To check whether your Android handset is encrypted touch Settings > Security & location > Encryption & credentials and look for the message “Phone encrypted”. If you do not see this go ahead and enable it on that same screen. This could take a little while if you have a lot of data stored.

To check whether your iPhone handset is encrypted touch Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and scroll down to look for the message “Data protection is enabled” This is enabled by default once you set a passcode.

To permanently erase all apps and data on your your Android handset touch Settings > System > Reset options > Erase all data (factory reset). Because your device storage is encrypted, your data is now inaccessible.

To permanently erase all apps and data on your iPhone touch Settings > General > Erase All Content and Settings. Because your device storage is encrypted, your data is inaccessible.

This means that ALL device data is gone; photos, email, messages, installed apps and app data, everything. Online backups are something to be mindful of, but data on the handset is inaccessible to the next owner (or thief) so can be considered safe.

The final thing to consider is any device you paired your mobile handset to. That includes your car! If you transferred your contacts or other data (such as your home address or GPS points of interest) then be sure you also delete that data before selling your car. That may be more complicated, but your owner’s manual or service garage should be able to help you.

As a reminder, handsets contain chemicals and metals that should not be thrown away in your rubbish. Take it back to your mobile provider and ask about recycling or take it to the recycling centre at La Collette for advice on how to dispose of it properly.

Tom Brossman, IT Consultant


Car Hire ‘Rip-offs’

June 25, 2018 Consumer Skills, Travel and Transport No Comments

Which have listed the top three tricks of the car hire trade to avoid;

Trick 1 – Damage charges

Trick 2 – Excess waiver fees

Trick 3 – Fuel options

https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/car-hire-holiday-problems/

Which also mention a few other car hire tricks;
Automatic toll collecting equipment can be costly with a hefty hire charge per day to pay, so check whether this is a legal requirement and whether it can be turned off. And if unexpected or unauthorised payments appear on your statements, raise this with your card company or bank.

Be aware of the cost of sat nav hire – it could be cheaper to buy foreign maps for your sat nav rather than hiring one with the car.

Travel Supermarket share 7 of the worst car hire rip-offs.

Car Hire #Ripoffs
Rip-off #1: Sky-high excess costs
Rip-off #2: The ‘full-empty’ fuel policy
Rip-off #3: The ‘upgrade’ option
Rip-off #4: Paying for extras you could bring yourself
Rip-off #5: Buying at the desk
Rip-off #6: Unexpected charges when you get home
Rip-off #6: Unexpected charges when you get home

https://www.travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/blog/travel-advice/7-car-hire-ripoffs-to-avoid/

Have you experienced one of these car hire tricks? And if you’ve been faced with other tricks let us know.

 


Calls & Data when Roaming

June 15, 2018 Telecommunications, Travel and Transport No Comments

 

Going on holiday is exciting but if you use your mobile phone while abroad you don’t want to come home to a nasty shock.

Whether you are jetting off somewhere exotic, hopping across to France with your car, or visiting friends and family, planning ahead will give you peace of mind that you won’t return to a big mobile phone bill when you get home to Jersey.

The Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities have worked alongside local telecom operators, JT, Sure and Airtel to bring down the cost of using your mobile phone while abroad, but with ever increasing use of data hungry mobile device, bigger than expected bills are still a possibility. There are a number of things you can do to give you peace of mind, before you embark on your travels.

Louise Read, Director of the Authority, recommends adding ‘talking to your mobile phone operator’, to your pre-holiday to-do list. JT, Sure and Airtel will be more than happy to help, advising you about the charges for the country you are visiting and suggesting ways of minimising your bill. Find out if your call and data allowances are included for roaming,  should you exceed these you are likely to be in for a costly surprise.

Once you are abroad, look for free Wi-Fi services whenever you can (many public spaces, hotels, cafes and restaurants now provide free access to broadband) However remember that public Wi-Fi does not afford you complete security so use it wisely and be cautious.

Consider staying in touch with free-to-use Apps such as WhatsApp and Skype. If you’re not using Wi-Fi, avoid data-heavy activities such as watching videos, updating social media with photos or downloading music. It’s worth seeing if your operator has an app which allow you to monitor your usage – download this before you set off.

Another option is to buy a local SIM card to put into your phone, with pre-paid credit. It may be a bit fiddly and you’ll have different phone number but if you use a lot of data, rather than calls, it will help you keep track of how much you are using and paying.”

Finally, of course, if you really want to avoid bill shock, and have complete peace of mind – Louise goes on to suggest “a ‘Digital Detox’ live in the present and turn off your data roaming function!”

Happy holidays!


Food Prices up by 5%

June 15, 2018 Home life No Comments

Four family favourite recipes have risen in cost on average by 5% from mid-January to mid-May this year. Our research is based on Caring Cooks recipes for chicken pie, cottage pie, flapjacks and fruit crumble with ingredients being purchased from Coop, Food Hall, Iceland, Tesco-Alliance and Waitrose.

At a glance, you can see that although Iceland offers the 4 recipes at the lowest cost, their prices have risen by a hefty 10.7% over our initial 5 months of price watching.

Interestingly Waitrose is the second most expensive of our five supermarkets for the recipes but their overall price has dropped by -0.25%.

In isolation food cost rise may not be a show stopper but let’s add in energy costs; http://www.jerseyfuelwatch.com/oil shows that home heating oil has risen by 18% for the same period, petrol by 6%, electricity costs have just risen by 2% and gas 1.9%

Our price checker experienced a few difficulties and faced the stark frustrations on each collection day of essential items being out of stock, available packet sizes varying and confused pricing (with one product having 3 different prices in one store)

All resulting in additional visits for us, but for shoppers with limited time and budgets last minute substitutions and unwanted cost implications. Which is stressful and all too often financially unmanageable.

The simple potato caused us a headache as the bags vary between 2.5kgs and 1.5kgs – be diligent when it comes to sizes and costings. The simple mixed herb was startling with a branded refill product costing 18p per gram and own label 6p per gram. Leeks one month £1.49 for 500 grams and the next month £1.57 for 400 grams allegedly including 25% extra free!

Therefore, be substitution ready, sometimes bulk up your cooking with cheaper ingredients and use less meat, and make use of offers as long as they are labelled correctly when they come along.

 

Coop Jan-18 Feb-18 Mar-18 Apr-18 May-18
Fruit Crumble 1.84 1.85 1.87 1.87 1.87
Cottage Pie 4.83 4.84 4.97 4.97 4.97
Chicken Pie 6.26 6.48 6.51 6.51 6.63
Flap Jack 1.43 1.43 1.50 1.50 1.50
  14.36 14.60 14.85 14.85 14.97
           
Food Hall Jan-18 Feb-18 Mar-18 Apr-18 May-18
Fruit Crumble 2.02 2.02 2.02 2.02 2.02
Cottage Pie 7.56 7.54 7.55 7.55 8.20
Chicken Pie 7.27 7.28 7.28 7.77 7.80
Flap Jack 1.80 1.80 1.80 1.80 1.80
  18.65 18.64 18.65 19.14 19.82
           
Iceland Jan-18 Feb-18 Mar-18 Apr-18 May-18
Fruit Crumble 1.61 1.61 1.62 1.63 1.85
Cottage Pie 4.46 4.46 4.49 5.22 5.20
Chicken Pie 5.55 5.57 5.90 5.96 5.95
Flap Jack 1.52 1.52 1.52 1.55 1.55
  13.14 13.16 13.53 14.36 14.55
           
Tesco Jan-18 Feb-18 Mar-18 Apr-18 May-18
Fruit Crumble 1.99 2.00 2.00 2.01 2.01
Cottage Pie 4.20 4.12 4.30 4.34 4.90
Chicken Pie 6.42 6.42 6.42 6.55 6.66
Flap Jack 1.50 1.51 1.51 1.45 1.45
  14.11 14.05 14.23 14.35 15.02
           
Waitrose Jan-18 Feb-18 Mar-18 Apr-18 May-18
Fruit Crumble 1.66 1.77 1.77 1.77 1.77
Cottage Pie 5.61 5.63 5.53 5.61 5.66
Chicken Pie 7.21 7.32 7.34 7.34 6.66
Flap Jack 1.52 1.66 1.66 1.66 1.66
  16.00 16.38 16.30 16.38 15.75

 


Jun 2018 Edtn 87 JCC Newsletter

June 11, 2018 Newsletters No Comments

Highlights

Better Protection for your Personal Information

Advertised Broad Band Speeds Travel Insurance

Chairman’s message Tips to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Read More…


Tips to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

June 11, 2018 Health Matters No Comments

Macular Week: 25th June – July 1st

  • Have your eyes checked at least every 2 years. Your optician could pick up early warning signs of eye conditions even if you haven’t noticed any change to your sight. Early detection could prevent serious damage to your vision.
  • Follow a healthy lifestyle for healthy eyes:

*Don’t smoke – there is a strong link between smoking and several sight problems.  The link between Age-Related Macular Degeneration (the most common eye condition in the Developed World) and smoking is as strong as that between smoking and lung cancer.

*Take some form of regular exercise as this can reduce your risk of AMD by 70%.

* A diet low in saturated fats and rich in leafy green vegetables could delay the progression of cataracts and AMD. Colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and oily fish could prevent, or slow down the progress, of some eye conditions.

*Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, a condition which can lead to sight loss.

  • Protect your eyes from harmful ultra-violet rays by wearing sunglasses outside as this can help prevent cataracts and other eye problems.
  • Wear safety goggles to guard against injury when working with tools or participating in active sports.
  • When using a screen give your eyes a break every 20 minutes by focusing on something further away for around 20 seconds.

EYECAN: supporting islanders to have healthy eyes – enabling islanders whose sight is impaired.

Contact EYECAN: Tel: 864689 / or visit: www.eyecan.je


Advertised Broadband Speeds

June 11, 2018 Telecommunications No Comments

Do you think your broadband download speed is not as fast as promised in your supplier’s advertising? Public consultation in the UK has discovered that the current guidelines for broadband advertising need tightening to create more clarity and help consumers make the right decision when choosing their broadband supplier.

It’s an issue that has been looked at carefully by advertising watchdogs the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and they have introduced new guidelines, which came into effect on 23 May, aimed at creating greater transparency in broadband speed advertising.

Locally the Jersey Consumer Council has been working with Trading Standards and Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities (CICRA) to ensure that the guidelines are followed here.

The new guidelines – key points:

  • Download broadband speeds should only be described as ‘average’ and must be available to at least 50% of customers at peak times;
  • Telecom companies should, wherever possible, promote their speed checking services in their ads;
  • Broadband speed advertising will be more transparent;
  • Consumers will be better informed enabling them to choose the right broadband service for their needs, whether at home or for business.

The move has been broadly welcomed by broadband providers, consumer bodies such as the Jersey Consumer Council and Trading Standards, and telecom regulators CICRA.

CICRA Director Louise Read said, “This positive change in the way operators can advertise broadband speeds brings greater clarity for consumers looking to make decisions about what they want from their broadband and the service they can expect”.

If you don’t think your broadband speed is as it should be, you should first of all talk to your provider. You can carry out a speed test using the online checker available on your provider’s website or ask them to carry out the test for you. If you’re not happy with the response you get, you can contact Trading Standards on 448160 or email tradingstandards@gov.je to investigate further.

 


Better Protection for your Personal Information

May 25, 2018 Consumer Skills No Comments

The General Data Protection Regulation is fundamentally about protecting individuals’ personal information in relation to the way that it is used by businesses. The concept of Data Protection is founded in protecting our human right to a private life.

The introduction of the new European GDPR in late May 2018 and Jersey Laws will drastically change the way businesses can collect, store and protect the personal information of their customers, clients, and even visitors to a website. It should be noted that whilst aspects of the GDPR and the new Jersey Laws are new, many of the requirements build upon the existing Data Protection legislative framework.

This means GDPR will cover all of our personal information

collected and used by businesses.

GDPR defines personal information as anything that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. Names, photos, email addresses, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information or IP addresses. Our personal information is a currency which should be respected and only used how we expect it to be used.

CONSUMER ESSENTIALS

Before you give YOUR information look for the PRIVACY NOTICE – businesses must be able to tell you about why and how they intend to use your information.   In some circumstances, you will be expected to CONSENT’ to the use of your information. In terms of consent, consent is one of a number of lawful bases for processing and it may be that organisations do not always need consent to process consumer’s data. In cases where they rely on consent, then that consent will need to be a positive, affirmative and unambiguous action confirming consent on the part of the consumer; for example, you will be required to opt into subscriptions rather than businesses relying on people to opt out.

The law gives all of us INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS in relation to our personal information. In simple terms the rights you can exercise are;

  • To access the information a business holds on you;
  • To get your information corrected
  • To ask for the erasure of personal information;
  • To stop direct marketing;
  • Control over automated decision making & profiling;
  • A right to information portability between controllers.

Businesses failing to look after our personal information according to the law face a tougher ENFORCEMENT approach by the Jersey Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC).

For more information contact the OIC, or visit their website at www.oicjersey.org. 

Telephone: +44 (0)1534 716530