On the road to somewhere

A week of holiday this week (so no video this week) and I have been sampling the delights of the North Wales countryside.

Despite some, what appeared to be near vertical footpaths, the weather held… it was a good break.

It also meant some spare time for a few observations too!

The roads

The roads in North Wales seem to be one of the few places in the UK where the words “ARAF, SLOW” really mean what they say and are mandatory no matter the speed limit posted.

To navigate anywhere near the posted limit you seemingly have to be a rally driver or maybe just a local… So apologies to everyone on the A458. The massive tailback was not in fact due to the rail strike, nor the school holiday traffic, it was just my driving.

The fuel price

Imagine my surprise, to find that the cost for petrol or diesel was over 10 pence per litre cheaper than back home too.

To be fair it was not all petrol/gas stations, but certainly, those that were independently owned (even those supplied by mainstream oil companies) seemed to follow this pattern.

After some research, it did not appear to be driven by tax, although maybe the cost of the premises could be a factor.

Some reports in the media seemed to also point to fuel pricing and the relative readiness for passing any reduction in oil prices to the consumer…. all very interesting.

Mind you I had to drive around for at least an extra hour at this point, to be able to empty my gas tank enough so I could fill it up cheaply… all to save some money! [joking of course].

Pre-pay or post-pay restaurants

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An important question over lunch… why exactly are cafes pre-pay, whilst restaurants post-pay?

I always thought that this was due to politeness, with customers in restaurants being less likely to run off without paying… but, it turns out if you pay at the end, you are more likely to buy more… and, of course, it gives the owner the perfect signal to tell you to leave… the bill. All it not what it appears!

Maybe this is the reason fixed price is more popular than a daily rate in the business world… we all tend to like certainty, although deep down really like flexibility, if we can afford it!

The Consumer Duty

This week, of course, I also missed the final publication of the confirmed rules for a new consumer duty from the FCA. With 12 months to now implement (31 July 2023), the clock is now really ticking for the industry, and promise to [quote]

  • end rip-off charges and fees 
  • make it as easy to switch or cancel products as it was to take them out in the first place 
  • provide helpful and accessible customer support, not making people wait so long for an answer that they give up 
  • provide timely and clear information that people can understand about products and services so consumers can make good financial decisions, rather than burying key information in lengthy terms and conditions that few have the time to read 
  • provide products and services that are right for their customers  
  • focus on the real and diverse needs of their customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances, at every stage and in each interaction 

The measures, of course, were broadly trailed and welcomed, why would anyone disagree with the regulator exactly, but as ever the devil will be in the detail.

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Certainly, the sections on cross-cutting rules, sludge practices, and evidencing outcomes are all interesting and still in the final guidance…. although admittedly it was hard to read halfway up a mountain by torch, so something to take a little longer look at this week…

I have no doubt there is still plenty to do, consider and process to transform. The starting signal has now been well and truly fired.

This being said, I am not sure the consumer duty will apply to restaurants or gas-stations mind you… although thinking about it… maybe it should.

Have a good week everyone.

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