I wrote previously, Are the Competition Authority happy to be merged with the National Consumer Agency?, about how it was unlikely that the Competition Authority of Ireland were unlikely to be happy about their proposed merger with the National Consumer Agency. I wonder is that the reason we’ve yet to see the actual paperwork from the Minister in charge, Mary Coughlan, TD, to actually make the merger happen.
It looks like the different reactions from each of these quangos to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employments proposal for a Consumer Ombudsman is going to cause further friction – coming as it does close to the time (apparently) when the merger is due to actually happen.
This article recently in the Irish Times from Paul Cullen, Agencies at odds over code of conduct for big retailers, covers the emerging differences of opinion.
What I’m more concerned about is this completely laughable statement, attributed in the article to the submission on the Consumer Ombudsman proposal made by the NCA to the Minister:
The National Consumer Agency, in a submission seen by The Irish Times, supports Ms Coughlan’s suggestion of a ban on unfair commercial practices in the grocery trade and says retailers should be prosecuted for treating their suppliers unfairly.
The bolded italics are mine. Remember, this is a statement that comes from a government quango that is more interested in maintaining the status quo by “working with” offending businesses rather than looking after the consumers interests by taking on big businesses who are breaking consumer legislation.
Then again, without having read too much about the Consumer Ombudsman proposal, it seems that the real meat of the proposals surrounds protecting Irish suppliers from the big grocery stores rather than protecting the interests of consumers – so I guess it’s logical that the NCA would be sticking their oar in rather than leaving it to the Competition Authority (in theory, the more competitent authority for those types of business to business transactions).