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.
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.
Do you feel under pressure and tempted to spend money that you cannot afford at Christmas? To help you stay within your budget, the Consumer Council has put together a food and present planner.
If you use this or any planner, you are less likely to exceed your budget, and your money should go further.
Can’t print it? We can pop a copy in the post to you. Please call on 611161 or email us at email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you paying unnecessary IPT?
Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) is a UK tax applied to general insurance premiums. There are two rates. Standard at 9.5% and a higher rate of 20% for travel insurance, mechanical / electrical appliances insurance and some vehicle insurance.
Premiums for risks located outside the UK are usually exempt. Therefore if you are taking out an insurance policy with a UK supplier, ask about exempting IPT before you enter into the contract or renewal. Some suppliers may ask you to fill out an IPT exemption declaration form confirming your residential status as being permanently outside of the UK for the period of insurance. It is likely that you will have to return this before the supplier deducts the IPT. Ask what the arrangements are before you sign up or renew. In most cases they will not refund retrospective overpayments.
3 Recent Case Studies Mick and Pam have private medical insurance. They are automatically charge IPT even though the supplier knows they are non-UK residents. In the past, they used to send Mick an IPT exemption form to fill out with their annual renewal. When it was returned they would send out a revised renewal with the IPT removed. They have stopped this practice and it is now down to Mick to request and send in this form on renewal and he will not receive a reminder. Remembering to follow these steps on renewal has reduced their premiums by £60 per month, although the provider will not entertain a retrospective refund for the couple of years Mick did not realise he was being charged IPT.
Vicky and her friends required travel insurance for a European holiday. As they booked through one particular operator, they opted for their travel insurance which was available online (through a third party provider). After obtaining a quotation, Vicky resisted the temptation to pay there and then. Instead, she called the provider giving her quotation reference and asked for the IPT to be deducted. After a little convincing and reference to their own website to prove the policy extends to Jersey, the provider was happy to take payment over the phone for the insurance cover less the IPT and the insurance policy was then emailed to Vicky.
Finally, Rob had experienced a few problems with hire cars. On one occasion he refuelled his hire car with the wrong type of fuel which turned out to be a costly mistake! He was also concerned that he would have a high insurance excess but felt the additional insurance available on the hire car desk seemed to him to be excessive (often referred to as Excess Waiver Insurance, Super CDW). As he was likely to hire other vehicles in the coming year he decided to look into an annual car hire excess insurance policy. He found one online that included £6,000 towards the hire car excess, £1000 towards misfuelling and other key benefits. Whilst ‘checking out’ he couldn’t see how IPT could be deducted. He sent the provider an email enquiry and they came back to him advising that if he took out the policy and sent them the policy number and the last 4 digits of the payment card used to pay for the policy, they would be happy to refund the IPT within 5 working days. Rob is now driving his hire car safe in the knowledge that he has comprehensive annual European car hire excess cover but also paid a reasonable price less the IPT!
Check out your insurance policies and let us know if you are paying unnecessary UK IPT. How much can you save?
You are in a rush to get your new gadget or kitchen appliance out of the packaging.
You may have seen a warranty or guarantee card fall out of the box. What exactly is it for and should you fill it in? Trading Standards has provided answers to these questions.
What is the card for?
The card enables you to register for a free warranty (or guarantee) which adds to your legal rights. It may be a condition to fill in and return the card before the warranty becomes valid.
Do I need this additional free warranty?
It may be easier to claim on the free warranty for a repair or replacement if something has gone wrong. Under the law, after 6 months you have to prove you didn’t cause the problem, which can be tricky. It is also a good backup if the retailer has closed or gone out of business or you bought the goods out of the Island.
Have I still got a manufacturer’s warranty if I didn’t fill out and return the card?
It depends. Get in touch with the manufacturer. They may still accept your registration and you may be able to do this online.
Who can claim?
It is usually just the person who purchased the item who can make a claim. Check the small print. Some warranties extend to other people, referred to as ‘third party rights’.
Are there other limitations?
Check the terms and conditions. There will be strict time limits when the warranty expires. Find out who is responsible for the postage and packaging if goods need to be sent away for repair.
Are there other benefits of registration?
The manufacturer will have your contact details if your goods are then subject to a safety notice or recall.
What about extended warranties?
Take care when filling out warranty or guarantee registration cards to ensure you are only registering for a free warranty or guarantee. Don’t confuse it with extended warranties or guarantees which are similar to insurance policies. These cost money. You should think carefully about the benefit of buying an extended warranty against the value of the goods, the risk of them breaking down and always shop around as you may be able to purchase a multiple product policy for less money.
Do I have any protection without a manufacturer’s warranty?
Yes. Under Jersey law you are protected if goods are faulty if they are not of satisfactory quality or fit to do the job intended. You may also have additional protection if the goods were over £100 and you paid in full or part payment on a credit card.
For more advice, contact Trading Standards on 448160 or email@example.com
The world is at your ‘keyboard’ when using the internet to research or book your holiday or other travel arrangements.
Take a moment to check out all the risks even if you think you may be aware of them all.
- Fraud resulting from making payments over unsecured web pages
- Flight scams:
- Where you book a flight and receive a fake ticket, or pay for a ticket that never arrives.
- Holiday scams:
- Fake websites and email offers for holidays or villas that do not exist. They require you to pay a deposit, which you never see again.
- Fake competition scams defrauding you out of a fee to secure a holiday.
- Inadvertently advertising the fact that your house will be empty when you are away, by posting on social networking or travel tracking sites. Some insurance companies are now rejecting claims if homes are targeted by burglars while the owners are away on holiday and made reference to it on social networking sites.
- Ensure that any holiday or travel company unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them online. Ensure that they are a member of a recognised travel authority which offers financial protection and a complaints service.
- When possible, pay for holidays and travel using your credit card as this offers additional financial protection over other methods. Please note that your holiday or travel company may levy a surcharge for credit card payments.
- Double check all details such as travel dates, itineraries, destinations and travellers before confirming payment, as you may be charged for amendments.
- Take out travel insurance adequate for your destination, activities and everyone in your party.
- Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognise.
- If renting a private apartment or villa, call the owner/agent directly to ensure that it is legitimate. If the number is not provided, email and request it. Check reviews on TripAdvisor or similar sites.
- Get the full address of the property and find it on Google maps to check its location and legitimacy.
- Prior to payment, obtain a contract setting out terms and conditions of the rental, deposits, payment terms etc.
- Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the link is secure, in three ways:
- There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself … this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
- The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
- If using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner will turn green.
- Some websites will redirect you to a third-party payment service (such as WorldPay). Ensure that these sites are secure before you make your payment.
- Safeguard and remember the password you have chosen for the extra verification services used on some websites, such as Verified by Visa.
- When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.
- Always log out of sites into which you have logged in or registered details. Simply closing your browser is not enough to ensure privacy.
- Keep receipts for all online holiday or travel bookings and payments.
- Check credit card and bank statements carefully after booking to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the booking.
- Before you post details of your travel dates on social networking or travel tracking sites, ensure that the correct privacy settings are in place.
- Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.
Please refer to the following websites for more information:
ABTA Association of British Travel Agents
ATOL Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing
AiTO Association of Independent Tour Operators
Telco Contracts – when does ‘Fixed Mean Fixed’?
When you sign up for a mobile phone, telephone or broadband contract you know you’re going to be committing to a fixed length contract, usually 12, 18 or 24 months.
You also know that the terms of that contract – including how much you pay for it – should be fixed over that period. The consumer is tied into that contract unless they pay an early termination charge (“ETC”) to leave before the end of the minimum contract period.
Remember that the Telco providers’ terms and conditions usually allow for price increases and variations to your contract during this term.
Thanks to a licensing condition called ‘fixed-means-fixed’ imposed by the regulator in April 2014, if your provider decides to increase prices part way through your fixed term contract, you should be given two calendar months’ written notice before the price rise and an option to end the contract penalty free. For example, if the amount of data included in your contract is reduced, you may end up paying more than originally agreed. As a result of change to licence conditions, you can exit the contract without penalty if the provider increases the cost of their deal.
This right only relates to changes to products within the list of services paid for by the recurring fee / subscription charge. If your deal includes a number of free services, the key point will be whether those were included in the original offer. If they were not, even if they were free originally, the operator is able to introduce a charge for them in future. It also does not apply other ‘out of bundle’ prices such roaming charges.
Please be aware that the protection afforded to you under ‘fixed-means-fixed’ only covers price increases ‘in-bundle’. In other words, your monthly allowances.
‘Out of bundle’ costs, being the amount you pay for exceeding your monthly allowances or new charges introduced for something which was originally free are likely to not be caught by this protection.
Our advice is to make sure you fully understand what is ‘in’ or ‘out of bundle’ when you sign up to a new contract and be aware that prices can change.
Flying off on Holiday
Check out our Plane Facts guide which highlights your rights if things go wrong
It is important to be aware of your rights:
If your flight is delayed or cancelled you are entitled to assistance and in some cases compensation. If you are denied boarding because the airline has overbooked the flight, you are entitled to compensation.
Your rights are protected by European Law (Regulation (EC) 261/2004) and are the same regardless of the airline you are travelling with.
Your rights are protected for any flight from within the European Union (EU) and on flights from a non-EU country into the EU, provided the airline is licensed in the EU.Read More
Holiday Car Hire: Top Tips
Hiring a car abroad can often be a minefield. There are numerous ways in which car rental companies can charge you for extras that you may not want or need, and it is not always easy to understand what you’re buying.
But you can find trouble-free, cheap car hire abroad if you know what to look for. We have researched some key points for you from Which and the Guardian to help you avoid the pitfalls.
Follow our checklist to make sure you’re not forking out money unnecessarily for car hire abroad.
Before you know it, you’ve paid for them all (just to be on the safe side) and the price you now have to pay bears little relation to the one you thought you’d agreed on.
And all this before you’ve even got the car keys and you may find unexpected costs when you return the car at the end of your holiday, too.Read More