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10 Things We Avoid In The Consumer Society

There are many things we can't be bothered to do when it comes to money and persuasion

Consumer Society Lauren Cooper of The Catherine Tate Show; "Do i look bovered"

There are many new reasons to take certain actions in the modern consumer society to enhance our lives and add value to our wallets, but we find that we are not too compelled to carry them out.

The BBC reports:

Here are 10 of those things we know we should do, but don’t.

1) Switch bank accounts

The Competition and Market Authority’s report into current accounts said that 57% of consumers had had the same current account for more than 10 years, and 37% for more than 20 years.

It bemoans the fact that banks are not being made to work hard enough to keep customers, because of fears that the process will be “complicated, time-consuming and risky”.

Even after the Current Account Switch Service was introduced, only 3% of customers switched in 2014.

Of course, it may be that customers are deliriously happy with their current provider, or it may be that they’ve got better things to do.

2) Read terms and conditions

You know those terms and conditions you get when you download a software update, or register for a website or order something online?

Have you ever read them before you put a tick in the box confirming that you’ve read them? Of course you haven’t – nobody has.

Take the UK terms and conditions for Apple’s iTunes, for example. They’re 20,000 words long.

That’s about a quarter of a decent-length novel and probably considerably less interesting.

It will probably turn out that I’m signing away some key rights or signing up for something dreadful.

I can’t tell you for sure, because I just can’t be bothered to read them.

3) Answer the landline

Actually, this one is a generational thing.

When the landline rings, it is my mother, my parents-in-law or a company urging me to switch providers (in a way that I can’t be bothered to do) or claim payment protection insurance compensation in a way that I cannot do, because I did not take out any PPI.

This happens despite my having signed up for the Telephone Preference Service (although that does not apply to members of my family).

So in fact, I do answer the landline when caller ID tells me who it is. I just can’t be bothered to answer when it doesn’t give me a number.

With older generations, the opposite is true – my mother only seems to get PPI calls on her mobile and uses the landline all the time.

4) Switch utility providers

Now we all really should be doing this one. And not just gas and electricity, but also home insurance and car insurance and phone and broadband.

Providers make a fortune from bumping up your premiums when it’s time to renew and hoping you won’t notice and can’t be bothered to switch.

Here’s an idea – call your existing provider and ask if they can do any better. Vaguely suggest that you’re considering switching, even though we all know you can’t be bothered.

Then, often you’ll get a better deal without having to switch.

This works particularly well with gas and electricity providers, which bring in new tariffs all the time, so the last one you bothered to check up on is almost certainly uncompetitive.

5) Book train tickets in a clever way

This is a story that crops up on consumer sites every now and then.

It turns out that if you’re going on a long journey – and instead of booking a ticket that goes all the way, you buy one ticket that goes a bit of the way and another that goes the rest of the way – you can save some money.

Although presumably, in order to find the cheapest deal, you’d have to try it out with every station between home and your destination.

I’m not proud that I can’t be bothered to do this. I salute anybody who can – well done you!

6) Open the mail

Getting things in the post is a bit like answering the landline – it’s a generational thing.

Obviously I open anything with handwriting on the front – I’m not heartless.

But what about printed envelopes? I do still get some bills through the post, but most of them are also available online and if I really needed them, I could just print another.

There are crucial exceptions to this. Recently I had to prove my address to the council, which asked me to send them my council tax bill.

Now, it seems to me that there is something wrong with the council asking to see my council tax bill – it sent the bill to me and I’ve been paying it every month. Is that not proof enough?

But no, it turns out that even though I can get an online account that allows me to check when my next council tax payment is due, how much it will be and when the bins are going to be emptied, it won’t let me print out the council tax bill.

So I had to spend an hour with my slightly questionable filing system trying to find the bill. So I could send it to the council.

7) Finish this list

Seriously, has anyone bothered to read this far?

You’ve got better things to do.

Go and switch bank accounts.Consumer Society

 

Edmondo Burr

BA Economics/Statistics
CEO
Assistant Editor
About Edmondo Burr (2836 Articles)
BA Economics/Statistics CEO Assistant Editor