The ICO summary of 2015 is both reassuring and disturbing in equal measure

Since the law changed in April 2015, the ICO has found it much easier to prosecute and fine companies for cold calling and nuisance calls, as the burden of proof has been reduced from causing “serious damage and distress” to causing a “nuisance”.

As a result, the total amount of fines imposed has trebled to over £1.1m.

There are a further £1m-worth of fines in the pipeline in existing, ongoing investigations.

The BBC article is, as always, here, and includes the naming and shaming of the biggest culprits towards the end of the article.

Mind you, how long does it take to even MAKE six million nuisance calls. And they’re only a nuisance if they’re answered, we would have thought, so how many more were they making that went unanswered?!

The irony of a firm being fined for making nuisance calls advertising call blocking services, however, may be too much for us to bear…

Hopefully this will lead to us all having a Happy (and quieter) New Year.

All the best from Consumer, Fight Back!

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Parking tickets – NEVER just pay up

Parking tickets come in two forms. Most people never realise there is even a difference.

The first is that issued by a Statutory Authority, such as the local council or the Police. These are called PENALTY Charge Notices, PCNs, and are quite serious. They are a fine for a parking offence. They mean you have broken the law. They can be appealed, nonetheless.

The second, and by far the most common, is that issued by a Private Parking Company (known as PPCs), and these are not the same at all. They are called Parking Charge Notices (so that their acronym is also PCN, sneaky, eh?), but these have, and pay attention to this bit, NO LEGAL BASIS WHATSOEVER. They are a con, and they are a deliberate attempt to trick you into thinking you are paying a statutory authority for a genuine parking offence, which you are not. Their only claim is that you have somehow breached the contract you entered into by using the car park and this can ALWAYS be questioned, and usually overturned.

You must ALWAYS appeal any kind of parking notice, whether you find it on your windscreen or it just magically appears in the mail.

You may receive some scary letters, and the appeal process is made as complex and daunting as possible, with the intent to deliberately put you off and make you give in and pay. They may threaten you with Court proceedings, even.

If a Statutory Authority pursues you and rejects your appeal, you should pay up.

But you should NEVER pay if a private company threatens you in the same way.

The process to follow is too complex to go into here, and anyway, others have already explained it far more clearly than I ever could.

The invaluable starting point is MoneySavingExpert.com. Your first port of call should be this flowchart, which shows you the essence of the route you must follow.

You should then read this thread for further guidance. It particularly lists the different type of companies that may be issuing the tickets and it is important to ascertain which type of firm you are dealing with.

There are even template letters for you to send off to launch your appeal. It really is all laid out for you.

If you have any questions, contact either MSE.com’s forums or this website, and we will do our best to help you.

NB. There are firms that offer to do all this for you, which you will find at the top of any search on the topic. But they will require payment, so you’re better off doing it yourself with our help. Otherwise you may end up spending more than the ticket would have cost!

Use by v. Best Before v. Sell by v. Display until

What is the difference between the different dates manufacturers and shops put on food?

Well, essentially, Sell by and Display until are nonsense. They are simply there as a calculation by the shop of how long the food will look good!

What matters, and the only one with any legal validity, is Use By. This is about the safety of the food, not its appearance. If food is being sold after its Use By date, then the retailer is committing an offence.

Here is a handy little summary gleaned from the Food Standards Agency website (food.gov.uk).

“‘Best before’ dates relate to food quality, including taste, texture and appearance. Eating food past its ‘best before’ date is unlikely to be harmful.

‘Use by’ date are the most important date for people to consider, as these relate to food safety.

While it is an offence to sell food after the ‘use by’ date, retailers can, with the exception of eggs, sell products after the ‘best before’ date, providing it is safe to eat. Eggs have a ‘best before’ date, but should not be eaten after the date shown on the label.

Retailers often use ‘sell by’ and ‘display until’ dates on their shelves, but these are not required by law and are used mainly for stock control purposes.”

Clearer? Good. Don’t want anyone getting ill over the festive season.

Bon Appetit and Happy New Year.

Carry the one…

Carry the one…

Today’s Queen’s speech.

Right at the bottom of the list are the things being carried forward from last year’s list of promised legislation that we never quite got round to. Oops.

Top of that pile? Consumer rights legislation.  

There was supposed to be a bill in the 2013-14 parliament about new laws to cover digital purchases, such as downloads, and new powers for Trading Standards officers.

Nowt so far… And so we wait. Some more. 

Well, it’s the thought that counts. 

Good news for those lower down the supply chain

New regulations may soon come into force that will allow for fines to be doled out to supermarkets who squeeze their suppliers too tightly.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20591079

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