Consumer

Boost for consumers from end to mobile roaming charges and open internet safeguards

The European Parliament has today voted to scrap mobile roaming charges in the EU by December 2015 following a successful campaign by Liberal Democrat MEPs including London MEP Sarah Ludford.

Universal phone charger on the way

Local LibDem MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed the news that universal chargers for mobile phones and other devices including iPhones and iPads across Europe will finally become a reality after years of campaigning, following a final vote today in the European Parliament on new rules for electronic devices.

 

The new rules will mean all manufacturers placing new electronic devices on the EU market will be required to make them compatible with a universal charger.

 

Tories and UKIP play into hands of big tobacco on EU cigarette rules

MEPs today voted on new rules to help reduce smoking, including larger and tougher health warnings on cigarette packets and restrictions on 'lipstick-style' packaging.

 

Following a strong campaign by Liberal Democrat MEPs, the new EU rules ensure that electronic (e-) cigarettes can be sold as freely as their tobacco alternatives and not under pharmaceutical regulations as Labour wanted.

 

Most Conservative MEPs abstained on the new rules but UKIP and some Tory MEPs (including London MEP Marina Yannakoudakis) went so far as to vote against. UKIP leader Nigel Farage failed to turn up to vote despite his party receiving a £25k donation from an e-cigarette company.

 

Boost for air passengers as MEPs vote to end “one-bag rule” and strengthen their rights

The European Parliament has voted to clamp down on excuses that airlines use to avoid paying compensation to delayed passengers.

MEPs in Strasbourg also voted to strengthen other air passenger rights, including clearer rules on compensation and carry-on luggage and the right to free food and accommodation after severe delays.

For short-haul flights, passengers will be entitled to £250 (300 euro) compensation after a three hour delay.

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford commented:

 

“The changes will close some glaring loopholes, which airlines have exploited to deprive passengers of compensation for far too long.”

 

Local MEP demands EU action against food fraud in London

One year after the horsemeat scandal shook Britain’s food industry, MEPs in Strasbourg today called for increased EU action to tackle food fraud to boost consumer confidence.

 

An investigation also published today by the consumer group Which? into 395 local authorities across the UK found that Bexley was the worst performing local authority in the country for food hygiene. Five other London councils are in the bottom 10 (Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Richmond upon Thames and Southwark).

 

According to Which?, food testing across the country is down by 7 per cent over the past year, and testing for the labelling and presentation of food has decreased by 16 per cent.

 

New EU consumer rights law ends rip-off online practices

Excessive fees for credit card payments and hotlines, and pre-ticked boxes on websites are set to be banned following the coming into force of new EU consumer rights legislation today. Under the new rules, which must be fully implemented by 13th June 2014, retailers across the EU will have to give clearer price information and provide shoppers with longer cooling-off periods to cancel orders and return goods. Refunds must be made within 14 days.

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford commented:

“These new rules will finally bring consumer law into line with the digital era. This is particularly welcome news for customers in the UK, who now do more of their shopping online than almost any other country in the world.”

EU roaming fees cut again

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford has welcomed the coming into force of new EU caps on mobile phone roaming fees today, which will reduce the cost of data roaming by over a third and further reduce the cost of making calls and sending messages when visiting another EU country.

 

Sarah Ludford commented:

 

“These new rates have come just in time for families heading off on their summer holidays and will help to take the sting out of those shock mobile phone bills. Thanks to the new cap, the cost of data usage, checking your emails, social networks or GPS maps while abroad in another EU country will no longer be prohibitively expensive.”

 

End the roaming rip-off

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford has welcomed the strong proposal of Commissioner Neelie Kroes to abandon mobile roaming charges in Europe by Easter 2014. By then, Kroes said, the EU could deliver legislation to end these charges on consumers using a mobile phone outside their home country.

 

Commenting on this proposal, Sarah Ludford MEP said:

 

“I fully support Commissioner Kroes in her ambition to create a roaming-free Europe. Having been hit by excessive roaming charges myself, I want to see a situation where Londoners are no longer afraid about the cost of using their mobile phones abroad.”

 

Victory for people power protest on olive oil

 

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford has welcomed the Commission announcement to withdraw its controversial plans to ban refillable olive oil containers like jugs and dipping bowls in restaurants.

 

The Commission says it will now consult with stakeholders including producers, consumers and restaurants to try and find a more satisfactory solution.

 

After a week of public outrage over the Commission's plans, Sarah Ludford MEP commented on today's U-turn:

 

MEP demands answers on olive oil regulation

 

Boosting citizens' rights across EU

 

Commenting on the publication of the 2013 EU Citizenship Report which sets out 12 concrete ways to help Europeans make better use of their ‘EU rights’, Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford said:

 

“British citizens already benefit from free healthcare and cheaper mobile phone calls in other European countries due to our EU membership, but these new plans would make moving home, travel and shopping across the Continent even easier.”

 

“One of the proposals - extending to 6 months the period during which unemployment benefits for job-seeking EU migrants are paid for by their home country - would help address UK concerns about so-called ‘benefit tourism’ as well as assist British people seeking work abroad.”

 

Using your mobile abroad cheaper as of today thanks to Euro-MPs

Mobile phoneAs of today (Friday 1st July) the cost of using your mobile abroad - mobile 'roaming' - within the EU will become cheaper as part of an EU initiative to gradually reduce the cost of making and receiving calls on a mobile when overseas.

Letters to FT and Telegraph: London's black cabs and customer service

The Editor

Financial Times

Dear Sir

You report that taxi regulator John Mason at Transport for London is considering mandatory classes on customer service for London's (in)famous black cab drivers ('London's black cab drivers face lessons in when to turn off the constant rabbit' March 6th).

I think Mr Mason is bringing forward April Fool's Day! The charmingly idiosyncratic nature of London cabbies' pronouncements on life the universe and politicians are to be treasured. If not they are usually easily silenced either with a mere request or by not rising to the bait!

End to price rip-off for SMS texts abroad

Members of the European Parliament have already forced mobile phone companies to lower call prices while abroad. Now holidaying Brits will benefit from new European rules to cut the price of SMS texting. These will come into force on July 1st - just in time for the summer holidays.

British holidaymakers have been charged around 41p per text while other European mobile users paid 4p for the same service. But MEPs insist that the cost of texting home from the Continent should be cut to a maximum of around 10p a message. Receiving texts will be made free of charge. The changes will also restrict how much phone companies can charge for internet use from mobiles as well as lowering still further the costs of calls abroad.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford said:

GM food - Consumers won't be force-fed

London's LibDem Euro-MP Baroness Sarah Ludford is calling on the government to use new EU rules on GM food to let consumers but also voters decide.

Thanks to Liberal Democrat amendments to legislation EU member states have the power to take action to avoid cross-contamination by GM crops and the European Commission has just published guidelines. Sarah is calling on the government to make maximum use of them:

"I would frankly prefer to see no commercial growing of GM crops. But if it happens wide separation of crops through buffer zones combined with strict implementation of EU rules on labelling and traceability is the minimum necessary for consumers to have the real choice to avoid GM food."

EU to secure better rights for air passengers

Air passengers who become victims of overbooking by airlines will receive increased cash compensation according to new legislation set to be approved by the European Parliament tomorrow.

The new rules will also mean that cash payouts will be provided to those facing flight cancellations. They have been strongly welcomed by Sarah Ludford MEP:

"This is a real step forward for air passenger rights. Flight cancellation overbooking and delays are responsible for blighting thousands of holidays and trips each year. This legislation will mean that all airlines will have to face up to their responsibilities to their passengers and play by a single set of rules."

Smoky Bacon: EU Hit or Myth?

Eurosceptics thought they had scored a hit with claims that a new EU regulation would lead to smoky bacon-flavoured crisps disappearing from the shelves and cause "havoc" in Britain's food industry. The hit was shown to be a myth however since the new rules will help food manufacturers and protect customers from harm.

London Euro-MP Sarah Ludford said: "This is the EU doing the job for which it was created laying down rules so that trade can take place freely while also ensuring that health risks are eliminated. It's a mundane but sensible approach that should be welcomed not criticised."

Beefing up chicken labelling is not the answer

London Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Baroness Sarah Ludford is calling on the European Commission to outlaw the practice by large food processors highlighted on BBC TV's Panorama programme of adulterating chicken with protein derived from pork and beef so it holds more water and thereby boosts profit. She said:

"The addition of proteins derived from beef and pork waste to cheap chicken is a disgusting process and a fraud on consumers. I am outraged that the only reaction of our own Food Standards Agency and the European Commission is 'more labelling'. In fact most of the adulterated meat is sold to the catering industry so the consumer never sees the label."

EU to end rip-off car prices

In a move being welcomed by London's LibDem MEP Sarah Ludford the European Commission is breaking the carmakers' monopoly on sales and services in bid to end rip-off car prices in the EU the world's second-largest car market.

Commenting Sarah Ludford said: "From October 2003 the carmakers' lucrative monopoly on servicing and spare parts will end and the motor industry's stranglehold on the distribution of their cars will end by October 2005. That means that car dealers will soon be able to sell a wide range of cars under one roof and source them from the Continent."

"Mario Monti the European Commissioner for competition has made the right decision. The move will be especially good news for British consumers as we suffer most from the very highest car prices in Europe."

Consumers given choice on GM food""

The European Parliament has voted a strict new law on the labelling of GM food products which will mean much better information for consumers.

London's Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford has welcomed the result although she voted to go even further than the majority supported.

"I am delighted that the pro-GM lobby did not succeed in dissuading the European Parliament to abandon its tough approach to ensuring shoppers have the choice not to buy GM foods. Labelling means consumers can refuse to buy GM if they have health worries or - as in my case - are deeply concerned about the environmental and ethical consequences of GM crop-growing."

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