Scams used to be simple and unsophisticated. For example, back in the ‘70s it became the rage to etch the registration number of your car into each window. That way, if the car was stolen and the plates changed, the real registration number was still on view. Companies were set up to carry out this expensive procedure.

However, one supplier was selling the glass etching kits by mail order for just a few pounds. It seemed like a bargain, until it arrived in the post. What you got was a six inch nail!

The internet has changed all that. Today, scams by organised criminals are worth £3.5 billion in the UK. There is an army of twisters and conmen out there waiting to separate us from our money.

 These scamsters would probably see it as a way of “increasing their revenue streams”. Changing the rules in their favour.

But plenty of established and – until now – reputable national companies are playing the same game.

BT recently changed the times of their weekend calls. Instead of 6pm, the weekend now starts at 7pm. Which means that free evening calls between these hours are no longer free. Notification of this change was buried within letters and emails that went out to customers – I’ll bet you didn’t notice it in there.

And consumer experts recently listed a number of financial products that are useless. The long list included mobile phone insurance (it’s covered by your home insurance), extended warranties (far too expensive to be worthwhile), identity fraud cover (that’s you bank’s responsibility).

 They must know the product is useless when they sell it to you. They’re all at it, I tell you.

And small print; why has that not been made illegal? It’s only there to trap the unwary. I discovered a great computer program that would speed up my internet connection – allegedly. I was just about to use this “free” product when I noticed, in writing so small that an ant with a magnifying glass would have trouble reading it, “To avoid being charged the recurring subscription fee, simply cancel before the free-trial period ends.”

And this from a multi-billion dollar corporation. I suppose that’s how they became multi-billion dollar corporation. Legal trickery.

It was so much simpler in the old days when you could trust nationally recognised companies to look after you. All you had to watch out for was the guys selling six inch nails.

Drew McAdam


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