Doing something for consumers

We’ve created a bit of a buzz today with the visit of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Magdalena Kuneva – the FT picked up some of a speech that she’s giving today, where she says she wants to stop on-line retailers being able to limit sales to one country. So if I want to buy an computer on-line, I should be able to buy it from the German site of the maker if that’s cheaper, rather than being automatically directed to the UK site and only allowed to buy from there. There was just a question in the press-room about it, we have a good load of consumer journalists coming to talk about it over lunch and BBC Five Live have just asked for an interview. There are a few really good lessons to draw. Firstly, an interesting speech will have more impact if you let the press have at least some of it before it’s given. Secondly, the EU is doing a lot for consumer rights and has done a lot in the past, such as legislating against unfair commercial practices. Thirdly, the UK press is interested in European stories where they see the impact it will have on people’s lives. My job is to make the most of those opportunities when they come up, and maybe it will help to balance some of the very negative messages that are out there.

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