Welsh consumers, according to Ofcom’s 1kg+ “Communications Market Report”, are more likely (than UK averages) to stick with their mobile phone in recession. And our average SMS use is to send 99 texts per month.
I shall be making my contribution. I am in Cardiff today with colleagues, doing future planning for Consumer Focus. I have loved visiting the city over my six or so years working with consumer representation - one part of a 4midable country.
An addition to the post below.
I read today from the EU Consumers in Europe 2009 report that we spend over thirty minutes a day, on average, shopping. Our time as consumers remains one of gender difference, and inequality. The gap between men and women on this (women spending a quarter of an hour more per day) is higher in the UK than any other country save Spain.
So if we claimed back time, women would win out in particular.
Kate T has pointed me to the consumer revenge action of Paul McCrudden. Infuriated by companies that assume that your time is elastic, he is counting up his hours spent being a consumer of around fifty companies, so far, and then invoicing them.
He is not alone. One of the most famous consumer backlashes was by Robert McKee after his seven hour delay on a Delta Airlines flight. He put together a video, ’6499, Seven Hours on the Tarmac’ has been watched 388,000 times on YouTube.
One of the hidden assumptions of today’s world is that being targeted by marketing is the price we pay for the opportunities we have. But I think we might also want to pay, in time or loyalty, individually or collectively, to cut the worst of the sheer nuisance of the marketing bombardment.
Even so-called direct marketing is designed on nothing more sophisticated than a ‘mud throwing’ strategy that hit enough people and some small proportion will stick.
There is an excellent blog here by Iain Henderson on how to move to a new model of direct marketing – what he calls a ‘hard re-set’.
Great to see the upsurge of local community sites online - classic collaboration and it is getting easier all the time…
The Australian Government has set up a taskforce to harness online opportunities – along the lines of the Power of Information work here in the UK, now chaired by Richard Allan. And in the USA, the Sunlight Foundation is an energetic force.
The agenda of open government is just going to grow and grow.
Is the voluntary sector ‘voluntary’? By and large the stress in recent years has been on professional staff and professional cultures.
So, it is a good balance to see new figures from the Charity Commission which show there are more unpaid roles as trustees (925,000) than paid staff (660,000). Meanwhile, some of the most interesting trends are towards membership and accountability. If anything, the best of the voluntary sector is becoming more voluntary.
One of the great campaigning movements of our time, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), has submitted a supercomplaint to the Office of Fair Trading, arguing that the pub market is not working. Pubs are closing up and down the country, but in those that remain and are tied to big companies, CAMRA says that consumers pay over the odds.
There is a consumer theory that the one thing men can always talk about is the price of beer. But at £2.67 a pint in a tied pub, surely there is a case to answer?
Banks and billion pound profits and losses.
We pay as taxpayers when they go wrong and as consumers when they don’t.
I am not anti-profit. Companies that serve customers better than their competitors deserve all the profits they can get.
But my personal view is that the banking market is not competitive, with high barriers to entry, network effects and inertia around switching. Our next event in the Focus on Finance debates, in September, on how we should run our financial services will focus on this issue of competition.
It is true that every market is trying to work out how to price risk, but uncertain competition in the banking market means that the cost and more is simply shuffled onto us alternatively as taxpayers and then as consumers.
As Mick McAteer from the Financial Inclusion Centre showed me recently, net interest margins (between savings and mortgages/ credit) are the widest they have been in 10 years. Banks could cut borrowing rates and maintain savings rates and margins would only return to 10 year average levels. Plumped-up margins are costing the average homeowner between £850-£1,200 a year.
Fat banks need a diet.
440 companies now offer fairtrade products - one of the snapshots of a growing movement in the latest review from the Fairtrade Foundation.