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Consumer issues
Senator Alan Breckon, Chairman of the Consumer Council, talks to La Baguette
by La Baguette Reporter

St. Brelade seems to have more than it's fair share of States members living within its community with two Senators, two Ministers, not forgetting two other Deputies. One such parishioner, Senator Alan Breckon, Chairman of the Consumer Council shares his views and thoughts on the issues the Council has been grappling with in recent years - and its future challenges.

Alan told La Baguette:

"Since 1995 I have been Chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council and during that time a number of issues are still around and others have emerged. The practice of charging UK Value Added Tax (VAT) equivalent prices in Jersey still exists today after over 25 years of protesting.

Ferry travel is still a very emotive subject, timetables, pricing, on-board and harbour facilities, both to the UK and France, are still very real issues.

Restaurants charging 10% service charge has all but disappeared. I always believe this should be at the customer's discretion, the tip, if any, should be earned.

More recently the growth of on-line internet shopping has opened up many new markets to local people. Previously some traders had customers hanging on for weeks or even months for delivery of goods- now consumers have direct access to suppliers who can deliver overnight or within a few days.

People have gradually become more confident about using credit cards and buying on-line, they are now making big purchases using technology giving them access to a bigger range and quality of goods than was previously available in the local market-place.

Also there are some safeguards for consumers when buying on-line for example, from Distance Selling Regulations and Credit Card protection - so the growth of technology based shopping continues onwards and upwards.

As well as actual goods, we buy and use more services- many people bank on-line and use internet transfers instead of cheques, which look destined to disappear in the next 10 years.

Also insurance, travel and transport arrangements, tickets for events and accommodation are all available on-line with 24 hour access from your own living room - this is a considerable technological leap in a relatively short time. But be aware! Scams are still around and increasing. The general rule is: 'if it sounds too good to be true it probably is'. Don't get involved - ask yourself why a complete stranger would give you something or the bank need your account details.

More recently many airlines have become more inventive with getting us to part with our money: check-in charges, luggage charges and extra payment to reserve a seat, and handling fees as well as 'taxes and charges' - not always either clear or explained.

And lastly the latest consumer bogeymen in GST - say no more! I am always pleased to hear from anyone."
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