Noel Josephides' Regular Column

Noel Josephides' Regular Column

I like the way the latest Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs, Dr Kim Howells, announced the Government had finally decided what action to take with regard to the transparency issue in respect of the retail chains of the vertically integrated companies.

If you remember, the decision to take no action on the MMC findings was announced just before Christmas when everyone's mind was on other things.

A year and a half later the Government repeated the trick by saying it was, in reality, doing nothing about the transparency issue, just before the start of the summer holidays.

I don't know why we don't have an office for the encouragement of 'unfair trading'.

It seems to have taken the Government a year and a half to announce nothing. If it had acted at the right time it could have forced a change in the names on travel agency fascias.

Why it had to consult with the very organisations it was trying to regulate really beats me. It's as if this right-wing Labour administration is frightened of offending the City. Anyway, what is very clear is that it is a waste of time, money and energy to approach the Government about anything of importance. By the time it gets around to taking any action it's too late, because the people that need the protection will have gone out of business already.

I often wonder what the OFT is there for.

I have not spoken to the representative of a single airline who denies that Passenger Service Charge was not included in the price of the ticket. Many scheduled airlines are now telling us that there will only be marginal increases in the rates next year but that they will, of course, be adding on Passenger Service Charge as an extra. What an underhand way of increasing prices.

So, where are you 'Office of Fair Trading'? Who are the airlines trying to kid? If you want to raise prices then why not just say so?

There must be hundreds of words that can be used to denote 'upmarket'. Why choose 'Prestige when that word is already being used by another company?

Is it because you know that that company will not want to risk going to court because of the sheer cost involved?

Is it that you know that you are so much richer and more powerful that you, therefore, do not have to worry about a little minnow whose 'word' you have decided to use?

It could cut both ways. Prestige Holidays may well see an increase in business because people will book holidays with them thinking they are booking with Prestige Holidays.

Are you confused? Don't worry, because we are all at it in one way or another. If you can't beat them, join them. May the best man win. Don't forget, we are all giving the public a better service at a lower price - and if you believe that, you can believe anything.

I don't think the industry knows whether it is coming or going or whether it's going before it is coming.

I hope the travelling public understands what's going on because I certainly don't. It's all getting too complicated.

Maybe Sunvil should change its name to 'Prestige' too. After all, what's in a name between friends.


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