Consumers' hopes 'not being met'

PUBLIC service charters require 'substantial improvements' to ensure consumers are getting a fair deal, according to the National Consumer Council, writes Andrew Gliniecki.

In the council's annual report, published today, the council says public expectations have been greatly raised now that the principle of Citizen's Charter has been adopted by the Government.

But it adds that the council had warned that public service charters 'could bring no overnight gains for consumers - and this has proved to be the case'.

Lady Wilcox, the council chairman, said that real success would only come when consumers' expectations 'are effectively and consistently met'.

Lady Wilcox also condemned the poor quality of service delivery from the public utilities compared with the higher level of confidence in high street shops, revealed in a new report, Consumer Concerns 1992, published today. More than 75 per cent of consumers thought that shops such as chemists, grocers, newsagents, major supermarkets, shoe shops, and hairdressers are very or fairly good at looking after their customers.

The Annual Report is available free from the National Consumer Council, 20 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1 WODH. Consumer Concerns 1992 can be obtained from the same address; pounds 5