STRENGTHENED CONSUMER PROTECTIONS COME INTO FORCE
A new system that will better protect consumers came into effect on 1 October 2008. From this date:
• Consumer Focus will be formed through the merger of the National Consumer Council, energywatch and Postwatch. The new body will be a more powerful consumer champion, with much stronger powers than its predecessors - including the ability to demand information from companies.
• Energy and post companies will have to take greater responsibility for resolving complaints. The regulators, Ofgem and Postcomm, will fine companies who fail to meet tough new standards.
• If companies and consumers can’t reach agreement on complaints, a new independent ombudsman will step in. The ombudsman will be free for consumers. Unlike energywatch and Postwatch, the redress schemes have the legal power to enforce resolution and provide compensation for consumers where appropriate.
• Consumer Direct, the Government funded advice service, will now give consumers information and practical advice on energy and postal issues. It can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06 or by visiting www.consumerdirect.gov.uk
For further information, please see the press notice issued at launch, the guidance for consumer advisors (under Related Documents) and our background and implementation pages.