Consumer Tips
Living Costs
Shopping
24 November 2022

Did you know you can apply for help to cover the cost of GST on food?

Jersey's government has received almost 4,000 submissions for the Community Cost Bonus this year. The annual payment is available to help Islanders who are struggling with increasing food costs. It used to be called the Food Cost Bonus and supports families who are just above the Income Support level, by covering the cost of GST on food. To date, 3,850 applications have been made for the 2022 payment, which has doubled this year from £258.25 to £516.50. The payment is available to households in which at least one person has lived in Jersey for the past five years, where no one is receiving income support, and if the household has a combined tax liability of less than £2,735.00 for 2021. On Thursday (24 November) a proposal to remove GST on food altogether was rejected by the States Assembly, by 27 votes to 17. You can apply for the bonus by visiting the gov.je/CCB website or by calling Customer and Local Services on 444444.
Shopping
16 November 2022

Jersey Post’s reduced-price Christmas stamps won’t be available in December

Jersey Post has defended its decision to not make this year’s reduced-price Christmas stamps available to use during the month of December for the first time. A number of Islanders have contacted us about the fact that the deadline to take advantage of the reduced seasonal postage is Friday, 25 November – including for Christmas mail to Jersey and the UK. Jersey Post has offered reduced-priced stamps in the lead-up to Christmas for a number of years. When the scheme first launched, it was available into the second week of December, though last year the deadline was brought forward to 2 December. However, consumers have told us that they ‘don’t think it’s fair’ that this year the deadline is another full week earlier. One consumer said: “As we’re currently in a cost-of-living crisis, it would have been nice for the reduced Christmas postage for 2022 to have been available for even longer than last year, so that more Islanders could benefit from it, or at the very least until the same date as last year, rather than yet another week earlier.” And another Islander told us “If you post your local and UK Christmas cards by 25 November, they’ll probably arrive up to a few days later, which would still be a few days before even the start of December, when people traditionally even think about starting to celebrate Christmas. “I can’t understand why the reduced-price stamps are even going to be Christmas-themed, as the mail will arrive in the last week of November.” One consumer added: “I appreciate that offering reduced-price Christmas postage is a community-spirited thing for Jersey Post to do each year. I also appreciate that it’s important to post earlier than ever to ensure that Christmas mail arrives in Europe or further afield in time for Christmas. However, having the local and UK deadlines so early means that consumers have the choice between paying full price for stamps, or being embarrassed that friends and family will think we’re mad for sending our cards so early.” However, defending the move, Niall McClure, Jersey Post’s Managing Director, Postal and Logistics, said that they’d brought the deadline forward this year ‘following feedback from customers who said they wanted this’. “Despite the complaints you have received, over the last two years we have received feedback at our post office counters that customers are in favour of the promotion being earlier," he said. “As an organisation, we promote posting as early as possible. Given that the last posting dates have become earlier (we try to align with Royal Mail to avoid confusion), we have ensured that our reduced posting rates allow for items to reach European and rest of the world destinations in plenty of time. “Retail and counter managers throughout our network were consulted about these dates and were all in favour based on the customer feedback they had previously received.” Mr McClure added that, because of the feedback Jersey Post had received, their Philatelic department had timetabled the Christmas-themed stamp issue to be earlier this year, meaning they ‘can’t be flexible about when they run their discounted postage rates, as the promotion needs to go live and align with the stamp issue date’. He added: “From an operational point of view, having the reduced posting rates earlier helps ease the pressure in our sorting office as volumes can be managed more efficiently and we can minimise any disruptions to customers. This has been highlighted by the recent disruption to the ferries, meaning lots of mail and parcels were backlogged in the UK and we are having to cope with much increased volumes in an effort to catch up. “Those customers wishing to send to the UK after the promotion ends can still benefit from a 1% discount by buying their postage online.” You can see all of Jersey’s Posts information for Christmas 2022 at https://www.jerseypost.com/christmas/2022/, or on the Christmas Guide that was sent to all homes in the Island.
At Home
Money
Shopping
05 September 2022

Survey - Credit Card Availability

Would you mind taking 2 minutes to complete our credit card availability survey? Recent History Credit card availability to Islanders, or the increasing lack of it, has been on our radar for 2-3 years. We have held multiple meetings with local financial institutions, Jersey Finance, Jersey Banking Association, as well as representatives of the previous government representatives.   Recently, the Council contacted several other providers including AMEX, MBNA, M&S Bank, Virgin Money and Tesco, and received replies from all. We have since become aware that John Lewis is also following the same pattern.   Reasons Their reasons for either pulling out of the Channel Islands altogether; no longer accepting new applications; or only offering existing customers a replacement card; are two-fold:   1). Jersey is not part of the United Kingdom. 2). Providing the service is no longer commercially viable.   Locally, we are only aware that HSBC offers new applications to non-account holders if the applicant meets the appropriate requirements.   Having received more enquiries from islanders during the last year, and many in the last month, it appears the situation is worsening so we're trying to find out how many applications or renewal requests have been refused.   Survey Link The closing date is Wednesday 14 September. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/creditcardavailability Thank you    
Money
Shopping
21 May 2021

Have You Experienced Problems With GST Declarations? We Approached Customs For Comment.

Since the GST de minimis dropped in October, the requirement for Islanders to access the GST declaration site www.customs.gst.gov.je has increased. Although the system itself does not provide a modern or user-friendly experience, when everything goes smoothly it’s a relatively quick process. However, many of you have experienced difficulty and are disappointed that you are unable to easily get help. You are particularly frustrated that the phone options on 01534 448000 lead to either an email or website, rather than a person. We raised this with Customs, highlighting that there are still many Islanders who do not own a computer or smartphone, yet are still able to order off-island goods by phone.    As expected, the number of parcels requiring GST declarations, approval and release has increased substantially. Customs are dealing with 14,000 consignments per day including both private and business parcels, which is understandably putting strain on the teams. Our worry is that if the Treasury Department continue with their proposal to remove the de minims completely this will only get worse. We suggested the possibility of setting up a helpdesk where Islanders can speak directly to a Customs officer, rather than having to go through the ream of telephone options. Whilst the current system is in place, an easily available online ‘How To’ guide or flowchart for the most common problems people encounter may also be of some help to Islanders. Customs have provided the following response: “We are indeed experiencing very high call and email enquiry volumes because of the reduced de-minimis, modified consumer buying behaviour due to the pandemic and of course BREXIT. We are actively working on ways to improve how we communicate with citizens by: Re-designing our phone tree allowing easier access to a call advisor Providing more detail to the importer so they are able to identify what they have bought when it arrives”. They politely remind importers of the importance of knowing the exact details of the items they have purchased i.e. who from and how much its cost. The spokesperson said, “The importer is obliged to complete the customs declaration, we simply cannot do that for them. If they are unable to do the declaration, then they should consider using a Customs Agent to do so on their behalf”. It is important to note that Jersey Customs and Immigration Services cannot act as an agent.   
Health
Shopping
30 March 2021

Results of Supermarket Covid Safety Survey

A couple of weeks ago, we carried out a short survey asking if you felt safe going to the Island’s supermarkets and the results are in. The answer is a resounding ‘YES’ (84.52%), with each supermarket listed proportionately providing the required Covid safety measures. It seems that shoppers themselves are causing the greatest concern with 65.87% of respondents answering ‘No’ to the question: Are other shoppers following social distancing guidelines? Almost 12% of shoppers do not use hand sanitiser upon entry, but other than those who are exempt, 100% are wearing a face mask, unless exempt. Thanks for taking the time to engage with the survey as we’re planning more on different subjects in the coming weeks and months.
Consumer Tips
Money
Shopping
12 October 2020

Christmas preparations and budget

Yup, we said it and there’s no denying that Christmas is on it’s way, so out come the Christmas emojis   To misquote that old song ‘It’s the most expensive time of the year’ and with Christmas just over 10 weeks away and shops starting to display their Christmas wares, now is a good time to start preparing, with particular focus on your budget. The financial strains caused by the pandemic are going to make 2020 celebrations tough for many Islanders.    People celebrate Christmas in different ways. Some like the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings served on a beautifully decorated table, and others prefer a more casual day. But, the one thing we all have in common is the financial burden it puts on our income. A recent study suggests the average cost of Christmas is around £500.    Many of you may have started your shopping already which is a great way to spread the cost and avoid the financial hit of paying for everything in December. To help you with your preparations and money management, we’ve created a Christmas budget planner which includes a breakdown of many Christmas items that you may need to buy and some tips on how to keep the cost down.   Bargain spotting is always fun and this year Amazon Prime members can take advantage of the annual ‘Amazon Prime Day’ which, due to COVID, has been delayed from July. It’s actually spread over two days and officially starts tomorrow (13 & 14 October), although deals are already available. This is great timing for anyone looking to bag an early Christmas bargain, be it a present, an extra chair or sofa bed for guests, or that new TV to watch the Christmas movies and sport on.   Gift vouchers are a popular and easy choice as presents. However, many retailers, both large and small, have struggled in recent years with some on the brink of collapse and others already fallen into administration. With this in mind, it’s important to note that a gift voucher will often not be honoured, if a company collapses.   Some of our other tips are:   Don’t forget your everyday bills still need paying.   Don’t rely on an overdraft or borrow from unauthorised lenders.    Remember to clear your credit card balance straight away.    Always buy from a reputable company and do your research.    Check and track prices using sites such as camelcamelcamel.com who monitor Amazon prices throughout the year.    Sign up to store newsletters and follow your favourite brands on social media to see their offers.   If you’re not an Amazon Prime member (usually £7.99 per month) take advantage of the 30 day free trials. If you time it right you can be a member during either Prime Day or Black Friday. Remember to diarise the cancellation date, so that your membership is cancelled before they automatically take the next month’s payment.    Annual Black Friday sales start in stores and online in late November.    If you’ve got a store account or membership which offers loyalty points, now’s the time to cash them in.    Posting Christmas cards and parcels will add to your costs. Consider sending e-cards and buying from stores (usually online) that offer free delivery directly to the present recipient (with strict instructions ‘Do Not Open until 25th December’)!    Take advantage of retailers, both in-store and online, offering a free gift wrapping service.    To help the environment and your budget, buy brown paper rather than expensive Christmas paper. You can make it personal by decorating it by hand.    Get the family involved and have fun making your own decorations. For example, start drying out collect fallen pine cones and slices of orange to hang on the tree.    If you have some of your budget left over, why not buy next year’s gifts in the January sales.    As mad as it sounds, January is the time to start saving for next Christmas (without adding pressure to you regular expenditure). If you put away just £5 a week, by the start of December you’ll have £240. Double that to £10 a week and you will have £480 towards next year’s cost.