The Office of Fair Trading has today kicked off a consumer rights campaign, encouraging British consumers to complain more. Great, retail sales are soft across the board and a government department wants customers to think every retailer has a Marks & Sparks style, forgive and forget mentality! Looking on the bright side, the OFT campaign also wants consumers to evaluate whether "it is worth paying more for better after sales service."

‘Watchdog’ culture to be encouraged, argues OFT

Let’s blame Hugh Scully! He was the first presenter of BBC’s Watchdog programme.

UK retailers of all shapes and sizes now spend a great deal of time dealing with consumers who believe the law is on their side, always.

And now the Office of Fair Trading is launching a campaign to make more Brits into veritible Victor Meldrew’s.

The ‘It’s your call’ print ad and radio campaign is being fronted by BBC’s ‘Your Money or Your Life’ presenter Alvin Hall.

He is seen encouraging consumers to "call the shots and use their power in the market place to get business to respond to their needs."

The OFT says "the campaign recognises a change in the UK economy towards one driven increasingly by consumers and seeks to encourage this further. The more consumers use their power in competitive markets, the less need there is for regulation. Businesses who respond to the demands of their customers will prosper in the process.

The OFT is encouraging consumers to:

* Make clear what you want and don’t just accept what one supplier is offering

* Negotiate on price – a supplier may offer you a better deal

* Do your homework and shop around, not just in terms of price, but after sales service, delivery terms, extras that are offered, etc

* Consider whether it is worth paying more for extra services or for better after sales service

* Complain if purchases are not up to standard.

John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading, said:

"In addition to our work on consumer protection, we want to raise the emphasis on active and aware consumers. When consumers are in the driving seat, businesses will compete harder for their money. This will be good for consumers, for businesses that serve consumers well and for the economy as a whole."

A leaflet and poster ‘Its your call – Make business compete for your money’ are being distributed to trading standards officers and citizens advice bureaux.…/your+rights+buying+goods.htm

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