Beware of angry cats warns frustrated Sean

12/02/2010

The Daily Mail is frankly disgusted. “A proposed code of conduct for price comparison websites has collapsed,” it claims, “leaving consumers without a watchdog.”

Could nodding dog Churchill maybe fill in, if he’s not too busy hobnobbing with celebrities?

Launched in July last year (see previous story), the Comparison Consortium initiative was conceived as a way of heading off formal regulation. Its leading light, former monkeyexpert.com boss Frustrated Sean Gardner, described trying to get other comparison sites on board as “like herding a group of angry cats.” Now, he says, “many consumers could be misled by false claims and misleading information.”

The Consortium’s collapse leaves consumers at the mercy of angry cats, the Mail claims. Which? Editor Daley James warns: ‘These are ruthlessly commercial organisations trying to make as much money as possible.’ Pending legislation to make such things illegal, consumers must clearly keep their wits about them.

“Among their pricing scams,” the Mail warns, “is the use of high excesses of up to £500 on motor insurance policies. This allows a site to quote a cheap price, but when they claim motorists find they have to pay most or all of the repair costs themselves.”

Why would leading comparison sites not play ball with the Comparison Consortium? Moneysupermeerkat said the CC’s standards were too low. Confused said it wouldn’t join because not enough people would join.

BeatThatQuote (who provide comparison services for… The Daily Mail) were proud to be the first website accredited by the Cat Consortium but withdrew again when the Consortium decided to become a limited company.

Meanwhile the Office of Fair Trading – kind of a watchdog itself – is looking into the comparison sites’ online sales practices and will report back later this year.

Cats. Dogs. This can only end badly.

01/10/2009

You know how distracting loose dogs in cars can be. One minute you’re bombing along happily down a curvy A Road at an exhilarating (but obviously safe and legal) speed. The next you’ve got Rover on your lap, saliva all over your face, and you’re headed for the ditch. Happens all the time. Probably.

Well now RAC and the Dogs Trust have come up with a cunning plan to put an end to such canine calamities. The precise nature of said plan, put succinctly, is this: seatbelts for dogs.

Yes indeed, why bother with one of those cagey things behind the back seats when you can give your pooch the ride of his life held firmly in place by chew-resistant canvas strapping?

But, shockingly, a new RAC survey has found that although 88% of Brits agreed that “belting up during a journey is an important safety measure,” an appalling 60% had “never used a dog harness/seat belt to keep their dog secure.”

RAC patrol leader Phil Ryan, a keen dog man himself, says: “At 30mph, for example, an unrestrained 50lb border collie would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to almost nine 12 stone men”, so it’s not just your pet you will be protecting if there is a crash.”

So pretty bad then. But imagine if you had nine unrestrained 12 stone men in the back of your car and they were thrown forward with a force equivalent to almost 31 50lb border collies. Doesn’t really bear thinking about, does it?


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