IF you sometimes get the feeling that businesses are after your money be guided by your instincts; they are after your money.Many offer a product or service showing a reasonable return on your outlay but the loosely regulated world of commerce offers a turkey shoot for unprincipled service suppliers.
The term rip-off Britain is bedded in the English language but sleazy business practice isn’t constrained by border controls. Seeking redress in an unfamiliar business environment with a foreign language to contend with exacerbates consumer helplessness.
Sadly some of the worst offenders are those we were taught to place our trust in, and don’t they take advantage of it. Many acts of fraud are not necessarily illegal. There are the pension fund scandals funded by trusting investors that on maturity yielded little or nothing. What happened to the money managers?
The water and energy companies with the communications industry are unlikely to be deterred by the occasional fine. These are paltry when set against wealth accumulated by quasi-legal dodges. Many make ‘mistakes’ and offer a means to resolve them but the procedures are so impenetrable you would need to engage a Philadelphia lawyer to have any chance of a successful outcome.
A poll conducted by rip-off.co.uk depressingly revealed that consumers regard government and corporate bodies as being no better than Nigerian internet scammers. Of equal concern are bank and insurance scams, cash cow speed cameras, and a lack of transparency by local authorities. Even law enforcement agencies charged with protecting the public often have more than a dirty arm up their sleeve. It takes one to catch one.
Bad business practice prospers because too few people complain. Consumers should persist in making a thorough nuisance of themselves and warn others about unacceptable business practices.
When scamming is no longer profitable rogue practices will disappear. Remember the wartime maxim: ‘Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.’ This is war; make sure you don’t become a victim. There is much we can do to better protect ourselves from the inept and the unscrupulous.
Many service providers see you as their cash point. Keep that uppermost in your mind.
Avoid buying on impulse. Give yourself a cooling off period. If an offer looks too good to be true it probably is. Never allow yourself to be hassled. Have the courage to walk away or close the door. Obtain and follow up references when engaging trades people.
Keep records; phone calls, e-mails, letters; and complaint detail.
Shop around and remember to use the internet to get the best price.
Use online forums to invite the opinions of others less likely to have an ulterior motive.
For protection use a credit card when buying online.
Always pursue to the top desk any complaint; be persistent; make a thorough nuisance of yourself.