Consumer problems like rip-offs, shoddy work and dodgy goods are putting £2.6 million of Scots’ money on the line each week – more than £133 million each year – new figures from Citizens Advice Scotland show.
The figure, calculated using figures from the charity’s consumer helpline and network of advice bureaux, is being released as Citizens Advice Scotland prepares to take on a bigger role in championing consumer rights.
Citizens Advice Scotland, whose advice services helped people in Scotland with more than 200,000 consumer problems last year, is also hosting a live Twitter Q&A for members of the public on a different topic each day this week:
- Monday 31 March: #debt
- Tuesday 1 April: #energy
- Wednesday 2 April: #post
- Thursday 3 April: #mobiles
- Friday 4 April: #cars
The service’s consumer experts will be taking to the social networking site between 12.30pm and 1.30pm each day to take questions and provide advice. To take part, people can tweet @CitAdviceScot with questions on the above topics using the hashtag #ask.
On 1 April 2014 the Citizens Advice service – Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice – will take on a beefed-up role in speaking up for consumers on post, water and energy. Citizens Advice Scotland is also taking on Glasgow-based Great Britain-wide helpline for people with complex energy or post complaints or who are at risk of getting their energy cut off. The changes are the last in a series of Government moves to give the Citizens Advice service a bigger role in helping and speaking up for consumers across all issues.
Citizens Advice Scotland is encouraging people in Scotland to stand up for their rights by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 with problems with goods or services, getting free self-help advice at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland or visiting their local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Margaret Lynch, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said:
“People in Scotland are paying too high a price for rip-offs and dodgy deals – in money, in time wasted and in worry and distress.
“Each year Citizens Advice Scotland’s services help more than 200,000 people sort out consumer problems that are making their lives a misery – and we campaign to make sure they don’t happen again.
“Our dedicated consumer helpline and self-help website can help everyone stand up for themselves and get a fair deal.
“We’re looking forward to being able to do even more to champion people’s rights and save them money.”
Notes to editors:
1. £133.5 million, or £2.6 million a week, is the combined value, during the financial year 2012/13, of known savings made to Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau clients as a result of advice on consumer issues, including debt (£43,758,531)
and the total value of products and services which people in Scotland contacted the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline about (£89,784,246).
2. Known savings made to Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau clients – reported through the bureaux electronic case management system – as a result of advice on consumer issues includes:
- Consumer: £143,880
- Housing: £733,030 (not including social housing)
- Consumer debt: £41,662,449
- Financial products and services: £961,811
- Travel: £16,954
- Utilities: £240,407
- TOTAL: £43,758,531
3. Citizens Advice Scotland has also produced a Vine video to encourage people to share information about its Twitter Q&A on social networks using the hashtag #donttakeanybull – after the farmer who called our helpline for advice as their bull was failing to produce as many calves as the seller had promised. To view the video, go to https://vimeo.com/89399375.
4. In April 2014 the UK Government will transfer responsibility for speaking out for consumers across post, energy and, in Scotland, water to Citizens Advice Scotland and our sister organisation in England and Wales, Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice Scotland will also take on the Extra Help Unit, a Great Britain-wide helpline for complex energy or post complaints. Both of these are currently the responsibility of an organisation called Consumer Futures, which will be absorbed into the Citizens Advice service. This is the last in a series of Government reforms to make it easier for consumers to know where to turn for help, and ensure they have an effective champion. We've already beefed up our role in representing consumers across other issues like payday loans, and now provide an advice service for people with consumer problems which can be accessed via 03454 04 05 06 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk.
5. Independent research shows the work of the Scottish Citizens Advice Service contributes more than £166 million to the common good in Scotland [Fraser of Allander Institute research for Citizens Advice Scotland, November 2012].
6. Citizens Advice Scotland, our 61 member bureaux and our consumer service help more than 300,000 people in communities across Scotland solve their problems each year. Citizens Advice Scotland looks at the problems people bring to our advice services to campaign for change where it’s needed most – so when we speak up for people, it’s on the issues that matter to them. Find out more at www.cas.org.uk.