In years gone by (decades now) the British authorities saw an essential need to protect the ordinary working person from the sharks of the world that set out to rip them off, cheat them, defraud them, or sell them inferior, dangerous or shoddy goods.
It all used to work quite well here didn’t it? Consumers could go about their daily lives, buying goods & services, feeling confident that those in a position of responsibility would be able, willing, and capably of protecting their interests from unfair trading and shysters. Food providers weren’t able to get away with neither passing-off crap food as proper grub, nor misleading the customer about what they were buying. Retailers were prevented from selling goods at pretend lower prices to bamboozle the customer.
But that has all altered hasn’t it? The rules are all fifty years out of date now and life have moved-on – so the cheats are ahead of the game again, aren’t they?
Ah yes, how times change, eh? You can’t buy meat these days that hasn’t been flooded with water (and what else?). In the old day’s meat was sold by real butchers who bought their own stuff, didn’t contaminate it, hung it to mature and sold it on to their regular and trusting customers. A joint of beef could be roasted with potatoes to produce a flavourful combination. All meat these days seems to come from processing factories and any attempt at a home roast will produce a shed load of water and boiled potatoes rather than crispy roast ones. Why has that been allowed by those supposedly protecting our interests?
We experienced two years ago the adulteration scandal in the UK where processed meat products were sold by ALL the main supermarkets, that was not what it was claimed to be. It had been going on for years apparently totally undetected by either the retailers or the authorities. Only a year ago Which found that more than a third of lamb takeaways contained different meat; you would have expected the Food Standards Agency to have ‘immediately’ sorted that out – so why is it still happening? This year a Welsh company was found to be selling a mixture of non-dairy vegetable fat as fake specialist cheese. Why has that been allowed by those supposedly protecting our interests?
What about all the dodgy dealing going on regarding say diet scams or in the specialist products market – like say the much sought-after ‘liquid gold’ Manuka honey from obscure beehives – it is mostly fake of course as more of it is sold in the UK than is actually ever produced in New Zealand. Why has that been allowed by those supposedly protecting our interests?
You want the best so you see the label “Premium Sausages” or “Top Quality” or ‘Top-of-the-Range’ or “Specially Selected”, but perhaps you need to investigate further? There is absolutely ‘no control’ over labelling these days so the producers get away with anything they like, but you can though be certain of one thing – anything labelled “Farm xxx” has never been within fifty miles of an actual farm, can’t you? The Trading Standards decades old ‘minimum’ meat content of sausages for example has been easily circumvented by the producers by NOT calling them Pork or Beef sausages but by giving them a ‘regulation exclusion’ name like ‘Special Worcestershire Sausages’ – this on top of ALL of the producers putting-in all sorts of unmentionables that they could ‘claim’ to be meat. Why has that been allowed by those supposedly protecting our interests?
Retailers are currently allowed to drive a coach & horses through the legislation intended to protect consumers – ranging from the ‘sleight of hand’ of the unscrupulous to the downright dishonest. Anything you see as labelled “reduced” or “half-price” in your local supermarket is certainly anything but. They will have circumvented the law by having increased its price in a remote location for the required time, and then bingo they can legitimately make false price reduction claims, A couple of years ago Which warned that discount ‘bargain’ deals on household electrical appliances such as washing machines, cameras and irons, from the likes of Amazon, Argos and Curry’s were actually false – has that stopped it, eh? Why has that been allowed by those supposedly protecting our interests?
Want some carpets or furniture, but have just missed the half price ‘Mega Sale’ offers last weekend? Don’t worry though the next half price ‘Super Sale’ will be available next weekend and the half price ‘Clearance Sale’ the weekend after that. Nearly three years ago the Office of Fair Trading said six major High Street carpet retailing & furniture stores had all advertised fake ‘non-genuine’ price cuts, so tricked customers into thinking they were getting a bargain – but that hasn’t stopped them has it? Why has that been allowed by those supposedly protecting our interests?
[Consumer protection has now died a death in the United Kingdom because business, particularly big business, has got the upper hand in modern times – and the poor under resourced, underfunded and under-science’d authorities haven’t got a hope in hell of catching up, have they? Oh yes, it is our twenty-first century self serving uncaring politicians to blame, don’t you think?].