Improving the Consumer Experience
The UK government has proposed a series of new business measures designed to boost transparency and alleviate the cost of living for consumers as they shop. With the aim of addressing issues such as fake reviews, hidden fees, and unclear product labeling, these consultations aim to enhance services for customers and create a fairer marketplace.
Targeting Deceptive Practices
In a bid to improve the consumer journey, the government is set to tackle deceptive practices that affect shoppers in various industries. The focus of these consultations is to ensure transparency, fairness, and clarity for consumers as they navigate a wide range of products and services.
A particular emphasis is placed on eradicating hidden fees that often catch consumers off guard, spanning from train tickets to food deliveries.
Research Reveals Widespread Deception
Recent government research, commissioned by the Prime Minister in June, has shed light on a concerning issue known as ‘drip pricing.’ This deceptive practice involves advertising a product or service at one price and then adding extra, sometimes necessary, fees at the checkout.
The findings confirm that ‘drip pricing’ is pervasive, with more than half of providers in the entertainment (54 percent) and hospitality (56 percent) industries engaging in this practice. In the transport and communication sectors, the figure rises to a staggering 72 percent.
The financial impact on UK consumers is substantial, costing them £1.6 billion online annually.
A Commitment to Consumer Protection
Minister for Enterprise, Markets, and Small Business, Kevin Hollinrake, underscores the importance of these measures in helping consumers make informed decisions and safeguarding their finances. While modern shopping offers a wealth of choices, the prevalence of fake reviews and hidden fees has made the decision-making process increasingly confusing for consumers.
The government intends to engage with industry stakeholders to ensure that these regulations benefit businesses while providing essential protections for consumers.
Tackling Fake Reviews
Another consultation, set to launch, seeks input on measures to combat fake reviews, aligning with the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. The goal is to ensure that consumers and traders continue to benefit from genuine reviews while eliminating the trade of fake reviews. Firms will hold accountability for reviews on their websites, promoting responsible review practices.
Simplifying Product Labeling
The final consultation, set to launch later, aims to streamline labeling on goods following a review by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Proposals have been put forward to reform the Price Marking Order (PMO), which mandates traders actively to display clear final selling prices and unit prices where applicable (e.g., price per liter/kilogram). These changes will standardize unit pricing, including during promotions and special offers, simplifying product comparisons for consumers and facilitating informed purchasing decisions.
Industry and Consumer Reactions
Industry leaders and consumer advocates have welcomed these measures, acknowledging their potential to address long-standing concerns and empower consumers to make more informed choices. The proposals target not only fake reviews but also hidden fees and unclear pricing structures, ensuring a fairer and more transparent marketplace during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
A Collaborative Approach
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) expresses full support for consumer protection measures, emphasizing their role in ensuring a level playing field and reflecting changing buying and selling methods.
The government’s efforts to reduce burdens for businesses while maintaining high-quality standards for consumers have also received attention, with recent initiatives such as the extension of CE marking and a review of fire safety regulations and product safety.
A Broader Effort for Consumer Protection
The government’s actions extend beyond these measures, as they actively work to safeguard consumer rights. Initiatives include the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill, which will address various issues, including fake reviews and subscription traps, all aimed at saving consumers money and fostering competition. These consultations represent a significant step towards creating a fairer marketplace and enhancing consumer experiences.
Please note that the consultations will commence at 10:00 on Monday, September 4th, ensuring that consumers actively shape these vital regulatory changes by voicing their opinions.