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Does regulation really benefit the consumer?

Published 20/06/2013 11:32:00

Let’s go back to the drawing board. The idea of regulation is that businesses can operate in a free market environment but are supervised so that they do not take consumers for a ride. I’m paraphrasing a little bit but ultimately this is the aim of regulation.

Let’s look at a couple of examples starting with the energy industry, the telecommunication industry (especially mobile phones), and the banking industry (let’s just focus on savings accounts).

Well, if you look at what is being offered you will see a myriad of confusing products and services. Do you know anybody who can figure out what the best energy plan is? Do you know anybody who can tell you what the best mobile phone plan is? And when we talk about the savings accounts on offer, then I’m not even asking the question because it is so confusing because of the ever-changing environment.

What I know from these three examples is that the consumer has no benefits as he or she is so confused when they look at the jungle of what’s on offer. And by the way, I’m not suggesting that we need benchmark figures like the APR because again the calculation of the APR is so complex and so confusing that the average consumer does not really understand it.

I wonder if there are any ideas to simplify all this. For example, why aren’t there any restrictions for banks to have a maximum number of savings options? Why aren’t there any rules that say all clients should be offered a savings account (new and existing), or why aren’t all existing clients notified when there are new and improved products on the market?

There are so many ideas that could benefit the consumer but aren’t brought to fruition because of a lack of common sense. We want to see the consumer placed a forefront of their decision making, I hope I’m not the only one.

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