I have been running Harris and Co chartered accountants Northampton, who are specialist small-business accountants, for over 23 years. It never ceases to amaze me how small businesses are continually at the mercy of their customers.
At the weekend I read the consumer advice column of a national newspaper. The consumer rights champion was advising on a couple of cases. In the first case a man had applied for a credit card with MBNA in 2003. He ticked the box on the application form to say that he wanted payment protection insurance. MBNA provided him with no advice at all on whether or not he should have the insurance. Now, some 10 years later, he decided that he had been mis-sold the insurance and wanted to claim back all of the premiums.
Needless to say the consumer rights adviser was of the firm opinion that he had been mis-sold. To my mind, though, it is a bit like going into Tesco"s, buying a cheese sandwich, and then later deciding that in fact you really wanted a ham sandwich.
In the second example, a couple who were buying a house went to a licensed conveyancer rather than a firm of solicitors because it was cheaper. The conveyancer didn"t check that the mortgage monies were being sent to a bona fide firm of solicitors to complete the purchase. The couple lost £175,000 because the account to which the mortgage monies were sent was the account of a fraudster. The couple are now claiming that the conveyancer was negligent and are seeking to recover their lost funds from her. Of course, the reason that the conveyancer was cheap was that they were not doing a full, complete service. You get what you pay for!
In both of these cases, it seems to me, that the customer has completely abdicated responsibility for their own decisions.
Sometimes I wonder if consumer rights legislation has in fact gone too far and that customers are not held accountable for their own actions.