At Home
Living Costs
26 February 2024

Increasing insurance premiums – what are the causes?

We’ve been contacted by lots of you recently about spiralling insurance premiums – both for motor and household – and how they’re affecting you. We’re aware of this issue and how it’s affecting Islanders, as it is yet another cost-of-living increase for consumers to contend with. This isn't just a Jersey situation though, it's UK-wide, with premiums increasing across the board since 2022. In January 2022, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced some new rules to stop insurers offering better deals to new customers. While this is good for those customers sticking with their ongoing policy, the rules don’t stop or cap the rise in policy costs, so in that respect it’s not good at all.  As a result, many Islanders have seen big increases in their premiums this year. Unfortunately, without a cap on the level of premium paid, the price of cover will fluctuate to reflect a range of factors, such as inflation, building costs, and setting claims due to storms, floods, and the like. The average premium for comprehensive cover on a motor vehicle in the UK has gone up by 58% from this time in 2022, according to Which? Magazine's March 2024 edition. In Jersey, your driver profile will include factors such as your age and your driving record, which influences what you pay for car insurance. Younger drivers have been hit more than most, with those aged under 24 being forced to pay out for premiums into the thousands in some cases. These premium increases will be affected by rising car repair costs. And disaster-related claims are also a significant reason why car insurance rates are surging for many drivers. We're not sure what the answer is. All we can advise is to keep shopping around, try to haggle where you can, and look out for tips using national consumer news organisations such as Which? magazine and Money Saving Expert. Their pages relate to the UK, but you can often pick up tips that are relevant to use in Jersey. You can also check out some of our recent stories on insurance: Which motor insurance providers currently provide cover in Jersey? (consumercouncil.je) Home Insurance (consumercouncil.je) Car Insurance (consumercouncil.je)
Scams
13 February 2024

Watch out for Valentine's Day romance scams

If you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, then online may seem like the easiest place to find it – but please remember to remain vigilant when online dating. While love is all around us at this time of year, if you’re currently single and looking to meet 'the one', be aware that, when it comes to online romance, not everyone is as nice as they may appear. In recent years, TV shows like The Tinder Swindler on Netflix have highlighted the fact that online scammers sometimes take advantage of people looking for love online. The act of catfishing – which involves setting up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes – is a common ploy they use. They then pretend to be romantically attracted to a victim by building up trust and then use manipulative and gaslighting tactics to demand money.  Many of us might be convinced that we could never fall for this type of scam but, sadly, it happens all too often, and victims are often scammed out of thousands of pounds. According to the BBC, there were 7,660 romance fraud cases processed in England and Wales by a self-reporting tool last year, up 60% from 4,842 in 2019.   Here’s some advice on the kinds of things to watch out for: Have you received an unexpected Facebook friend request, Instagram message, or WhatsApp? In this digital age, scammers frequently use social media and messaging apps to target individuals, often using bogus photos and stories to lure them in. Examples include Facebook friend requests or messages from someone claiming to be a highly qualified professional, such as a lawyer, doctor, neurosurgeon, soldier, or even charity worker. Fraudulent social media profiles will often show photos of the scammer in exotic locations, or helping others, but these photos have usually been copied from the internet and are not the person they claim to be. A reverse image search will often find where the image has been taken from. Look out for false promises These scams are often conducted over a long period of time, building up the victim's trust.  The scammer will often ‘live’ in a different country, explaining this is the reason they’re unable to visit, but promising to do so as soon as they can. They may promise lavish gifts and even offer to marry the victim, sending photos of the engagement ring they’ve apparently purchased.  Don’t be guilt-tripped into sending money Though many people won’t even meet their scammer, they will frequently be willing to transfer them vast amounts of money in the hope of a relationship. In fact, Islanders have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years. Once the trust is built, the scammer will ask for cash, often making the victim feel guilty if they don’t send the money. It may start with relatively small requests, such as to: help pay for a hospital bill pay for a child’s education donate to a church fund buy an iPhone or iPad to help keep in touch pay for phone calls to keep in contact with you pay for a ticket to visit you. Then the bigger payment requests start, and this is where many victims lose thousands of pounds. The scammer may request: money to put down a deposit on a house for you both money to help them pay a large building or legal invoice that, if unpaid, could mean they’ll be jailed. How to protect yourself from falling victim to a romance scam Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.  Remain sceptical and, if any warning signs appear, try to remove emotion from your decision, even if your ‘partner’ appears sincere. Don’t feel guilty for refusing to make a payment and if they insist, stop all contact – they’re scamming you. Don’t give out personal information, especially account details. Do a reverse image search of your admirer’s photos. Often these romance scammers will steal other people’s photos, so these may be featured on a legitimate person’s social media. Go to Google and search ‘How to reverse image search’. Watch out for inconsistencies in their story and grammar. Be cautious about what photos or information you share with the person. They may use compromising photos or information as blackmailing material. If you arrange to meet them in person, inform friends and family of where you are going.    Remember, anyone of any age, gender or sexuality is a target for these scams: If you’ve fallen victim to romance fraud or catfishing, report it to the States of Jersey Police straight away on 612612. The Jersey Consumer Council is a member of the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum and more information can be found on their website.
At Home
Energy & Fuel
12 February 2024

Legal backing for gas outage claims help

A local lawyer has agreed to act for those Island Energy customers who were affected by October’s gas outage. Advocate Philip Sinel, Senior Partner at Sinels and Co, believes there has been a “clear breach of contract” between the gas provider and its customers, and that consumers have suffered losses or incurred extra costs as a result of having no gas supply to their homes – up to 14 days or more in some cases. He said: “Sinels is happy to act on behalf of those consumers affected by last year’s gas outage as, in our view, there has been a clear breach of contract. Losses have occurred, and as a result, the supplier should be liable for those in our view, and we will do our best to recover those losses for consumers.” More than 250 Island Energy customers who are unhappy with the £11.56 ‘goodwill gesture’ offered by Island Energy have so far registered with us. If you would like to be included in the action being taken by the Jersey Consumer Council and Sinels, please register below by completing this short online form. Please ensure that when you fill in this form you include an email and your Island Energy customer number: REGISTER HERE On 7 October a technical fault by Island Energy left around 4,000 Islanders without gas. This lasted for days - and in some cases up to 14 days - before the gas was returned to them. Had the energy provider been regulated – like in the UK - it would have had to pay £60 for every day a customer went without gas beyond the first 24 hours. Since then, Island Energy have increased the prices of gas by 12%, which is about £13.80 for an average family house. Whilst in Guernsey they raised the price by 8%. On 25 January, we were given word that Island Energy were giving customers a gesture of goodwill by refunding the standing charge for October, worth £11.56. Telephone: 01534 61161 Email: contact@consumercouncil.je
At Home
Energy & Fuel
09 February 2024

Island Energy gas outage survey

Please make sure you give us your email and Island Energy customer number as they will be needed for those wanting to be involved in any claim that we might secure. COMPLETE THE GAS SURVEY   Any Island Energy customers who are unhappy or dissatisfied with the £11.56 ‘goodwill gesture’ offered to households following the outage in October last year are being asked to get in touch with the Jersey Consumer Council. The Council is looking at what options it has available to try to secure the compensation Island Energy customers deserve or at least a refund of the costs many consumers incurred during the gas outage in October last year. To start that process, those impacted are being asked to complete a short online survey on consumercouncil.je to enable the Council to assess to what extent individual households were impacted. Chairman Carl Walker said: ‘We already know of Islanders who went without hot water, could not cook hot meals at home and could turn on their heating during the outage, so taking three months to come up with an offer of £11.56 is nothing short of an insult to its customers by Island Energy. “We will now work on behalf of all those affected to try and secure a better deal for them – and everything and anything is on the table at this stage. Once we know how many Islanders we will be representing, we shall choose the best course of action and do our very best.” On 7 October a technical fault by Island Energy left around 4,000 Islanders without gas. This lasted for days - and in some cases up to 14 days - before the gas was returned to them. Had the energy provider been regulated – like in the UK - it would have had to pay £60 for every day a customer went without gas beyond the first 24 hours. Since then, Island Energy have increased the prices of gas by 12%, which is about £13.80 for an average family house. Whilst in Guernsey they raised the price by 8%. On 25 January, we were given word that Island Energy were giving customers a gesture of goodwill by refunding the standing charge for October, worth £11.56. Dissatisfied Island Energy customers are asked to click on the link below and complete the survey as honestly as possible. If they know of any neighbours or relatives who do not have access to the internet but who were also affected by the outage, please visit those individuals or call them and complete the survey with them or on their behalf, so that we can get a fair picture of the situation.
Living Costs
Shopping
07 February 2024

Co-op may cut or cancel Islanders' dividend payments

The Channel Islands Co-op has announced that it could be forced to slash or suspend its “divvy” payments this year, as a result of ‘extremely challenging market conditions’. The local retailer has written to members to say that a proposition allowing its board to decide whether dividend rates should be reduced, or whether no dividend should be paid this year, will be presented in May at its Annual Members Meeting. Islanders have taken to social media to express their outrage at the announcement, which will affect consumers of all ages, as well as local charities who have share numbers that some shoppers choose to use. Today, long queues of customers queued at the Co-op’s Grande Marche store to withdraw their previous dividend funds from their accounts. Our Chairman, Carl Walker, has described the news as ‘another blow for consumers’. Speaking to the local media, he said that is was unfair and immoral to take a dividend from people who had been consciously building it up, with many Islanders choosing to shop at the Co-op purely because of the 4% dividend that they’ve always known they will receive – especially as every receipt they have received previously told them what they would be getting back. He said that many Islanders see the payment as a bonus, and many make plans each year on how they will spend it. "I've been speaking to Coop customers this morning, who are queuing up with their share books in their hands withdrawing their money which they've saved up in there over the years because they are angry at the decision that the Co-op surprised everyone with," said Mr Walker. "They're angry that the announcement hasn't come sooner or that the announcement isn't warning them that maybe next year's dividend would be withheld." Writing to members, the Chief Executive Officer of the Co-op, Mark Cox, said: “Regardless of our concerted efforts, our end-of-year financial report will reflect a notable reduction in our net surplus. Faced with this decline, the Society must make some tough decisions that will impact our members. This may involve either reducing dividend payments or suspending them entirely for the 2023 financial year."
At Home
Living Costs
Phone
05 February 2024

Another price increase is on the way...

If you’re a JT customer, your bills will be going up from 27 March.  The telecommunications company have announced that they’ll be increasing their prices by 7.5%, in line with the latest Retail Price Index.   This comes on the back of other household price increases, from Island Energy, Jersey Water and the Jersey Electricity Company, and will no doubt be worrying for some consumers.  If you’re concerned about your JT bills, you can contact them on 882882 and see whether a different contract might save you some money.  To see how the increases will affect various plans and services, check out their prices here:  JT RPI Price Increases - JT Global  As always, our advice would be to always shop around for the best prices and to check whether you're definitely on the best contract for your needs.