News

ByQuantum Communications

Used cars are most common issue for Scotland’s new consumer service

Complaints and queries about used cars are the most common issue handled by Scotland’s new national consumer service.

New figures for July show that an average of 12 people contacted consumeradvice.scot about a used car sale every day.

Buyers raised problems after purchasing vehicles relating to lights, oil leaks or engine failure.

There were also complaints about incorrect sales descriptions, enquiries about warranties, and discoveries that finance agreements remain in place from a previous owner.

Many customers were exasperated after multiple attempts to solve the problem with car dealers and sellers.

There were 364 queries related to used cars last month, with 4,946 contacts in total.

consumeradvice.scot, which was launched in April this year with Scottish Government funding following the devolution of further powers to Holyrood, provides free and impartial advice to people on any consumer issues.

Experts advise people of their legal rights, such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which includes a short-term right to reject goods of unsatisfactory quality within 30 days.

consumeradvice.scot can also refer complaints to Trading Standards Scotland for investigation, but cannot carry out legal action on a consumer’s behalf.

consumeradvice.scot team leader Lorna Yelland said:
“The new consumeradvice.scot service is handling tens of thousands of calls and online queries from consumers across Scotland, ranging from questions about building work to parking fines to furniture sales.
“But used cars have proved to be the most common issue raised this summer, with buyers not sure what to do if something goes wrong after buying a second-hand vehicle.
“The new consumeradvice.scot service is free for everyone in Scotland, regardless of circumstances, and experts are available to offer impartial advice.
“Consumers shouldn’t be left in the dark about their rights.”



NOTES TO EDITORS
consumeradvice.scot is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland. Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 164 6000; online and web chat at www.consumeradvice.scot; and email via advice@consumeradvice.scot

Consumer advisors can provide practical and impartial advice on how to resolve consumer problems, inform people of consumer laws which may apply to their situation, provide template letters which consumers can use to contact the trader or service provider they are having issues with, and pass relevant information onto Trading Standards for further investigation. They cannot make a complaint on an individual’s behalf or carry out any legal action on an individual’s behalf.

ByQuantum Communications

Making Scotland the global HQ of ethical finance

Our client, the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, was published in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

Read the article from managing director Omar Shaikh here.

The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change. It brings together the world’s business, political, and social leaders to build a fairer finance system for people and the planet.

Do you want to increase the media profile of your organisation? We specialise in media affairs. Get in touch by emailing alan@quantumcommunications.co.uk

ByQuantum Communications

Edinburgh to host world summit on ethical finance

Edinburgh is to host the world summit on ethical finance, bringing together global leaders in business, politics and banking to shape a fairer finance system.

Ethical Finance 2019 will be hosted by the Scotland-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), which oversees, organises and coordinates a series of programmes to promote finance for positive change.

Ethical finance is a fairer system of financial management that combines profit with better outcomes for people and the planet.

The summit on October 8 and 9 is supported by the Scottish Government, and bodies represented will include the United Nations, Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority, RBS, Baillie Gifford and HSBC.

It is the fourth time the summit has been staged in Edinburgh, and it will be attended by over 400 senior representatives from more than 200 companies and organisations from across the globe, including asset owners and managers, banks, regulators, multi-lateral agencies and academics.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:
“Finance is essential to meet the challenges facing our society – from achieving more inclusive economic growth to tackling the global climate emergency. Real change will require a shift in mindset for businesses and governments.
“Edinburgh has long been a centre of financial expertise, and I am pleased that it is now leading the global conversation on the role of finance in society.”

Omar Shaikh, managing director of GEFI, said:
“This is a major global summit that brings together the world’s business, political, and social leaders to build a fairer finance system for people, prosperity and the planet.
“We need a fairer system of financial management that delivers more than just profit.
“Ethical finance matters for people because, over the years, trust in banks has diminished and today’s generation of consumers believes that investment decisions should reflect the issues they care about.
“It matters for prosperity because the ethical investment market is worth $25trillion and can create jobs and investment – particularly in Edinburgh – and it matters for the planet because green finance solutions are needed in the face of a climate emergency.
“Now successfully in its fourth year, the summit has established itself as the premier gathering for discussions on finance for positive change, making Edinburgh the HQ of the ethical finance world.”

Kirsty Britz, director of sustainable banking with RBS, said:
“We are delighted to be hosting this summit once again this year. Doing the right thing for our customers is at the heart of everything we do. In bringing together leaders from across the world we want to work across sectors and industries to embed sustainability in finance.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

More information on the summit, including details on tickets and speakers, is available here: https://www.globalethicalfinance.org/ethical-finance-week-2019/

ByQuantum Communications

New consumer service to challenge unfair and hidden delivery charges

Scotland’s new consumer service has joined forces with Highland Council Trading Standards to challenge unfair and hidden delivery charges.

The new consumeradvice.scot service, launched in April, is now providing free advice to consumers on delivery law and encouraging shoppers to report misleading advertising and sales tactics.

Consumers in Scotland’s remote and rural areas often discover hidden delivery charges added after purchase, or small-print delivery information that can be missed at the point of purchase.
According to the Office for National Statistics, rural areas accounted for one-in-six online purchases in the UK in 2017. However, people residing in these areas pay an average of approximately 30 per cent more for delivery than those elsewhere in the UK.

consumeradvice.scot is working with Highland Council Trading Standards to challenge these hidden and unfair charges, with the support of the Scottish Government.

Consumers can receive free advice and report incidents by contacting the new service, and consumeradvice.scot is then able to pass on incidents to Trading Standards for investigation.

consumeradvice.scot has received Scottish Government funding and provides advice to people on a range of issues, including buying products both online and in shops, changing mobile phone and internet providers, and dealing with rogue tradespeople.

To make the service more accessible, support can be accessed online through web chat, email or social media, as well as by calling a freephone number 0808 164 6000.

The Service is being run by the Glasgow and Stornoway-based charity Advice Direct Scotland.

Chris Cowles, adviser with consumeradvice.scot in Stornoway, said:
“As someone who lives on Lewis, I know that too many people living in remote and rural areas find online bargains have hidden charges or small-print delivery information that can be missed at the point of purchase.
“Changes to operational and organisational structures to address this problem will take time and considerable capital investment, but one immediate way forward is using consumer rights legislation to challenge misleading advertising and sales tactics.
“The new consumeradvice.scot service provides free, impartial and practical advice on shoppers’ rights and how to challenge these additional costs, and we encourage consumers to report instances to us where they believe they have been unfairly treated.”

Scottish Government Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said:
“I fully understand the frustration unfair delivery charges can cause. That’s why I launched the “Fairer Deliveries for All” action plan, which sets out practical steps the Scottish Government will take to tackle the issue – even though we do not have the powers to regulate in this area.
“consumeradvice.scot is funded by the Scottish Government to support consumers on a wide range of issues. It has been a valuable supporter of our work on parcel deliveries and I am glad to see it building partnerships with other organisations to ensure as many consumers as possible can get help when they need it.”

David MacKenzie, Trading Standards Manager with Highland Council Trading Standards Service, said:
“We have been fighting for fair delivery charges for rural Scots for several years now and are firm supporters of the Scottish Government’s Fairer Deliveries For All strategy. The new Scottish advice service has a key role in advising consumers of their rights when buying online and passing cases to Trading Standards to investigate. This complements the role of the UK-wide website www.deliverylaw.uk which provides a one-stop shop for consumers, businesses and practitioners on delivery law and is operated by the team at Highland Council Trading Standards.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways.
Freephone: 0808 164 6000
Online and web chat: www.consumeradvice.scot
Email: advice@consumeradvice.scot

Consumeradvice.scot is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland and works in close partnership with Trading Standards staff in local authorities to improve the services that consumers receive.

Consumer advisors can:
• Provide practical and impartial advice on how to resolve your consumer problem
• Inform you of the consumer laws which may apply to your situation
• Provide template letters which consumers can use to contact the trader or service provider they are having issues with
• Pass relevant information onto Trading Standards for further investigation
Advisors cannot:
• Make a complaint on an individual’s behalf
• Carry out any legal action on an individual’s behalf

ByQuantum Communications

New advice column in the Daily Record

A regular new advice column starts today in the Daily Record, in conjunction with out client, Advice Direct Scotland.

The column appears in the newspaper’s new Life section, and includes answers to any consumer-related queries.

The questions answered in today’s edition are:

  1. My private landlord won’t fix the heating in my flat. What can I do?
  2. The builder I hired hasn’t finished the work agreed. What can I do?

We’re delighted to be working with Advice Direct Scotland, which provides free, independent advice to people across Scotland. Its innovative approach allows the organisation to engage with their customers by phone, SMS, web chat, email, online and social media. Its knowledge base makes significant use of AI and machine learning to ensure the information it provides is always up to date.

For more information on Advice Direct Scotland, visit www.advice.scot

ByQuantum Communications

Global finance leaders gather in Scotland to develop green solutions

Finance leaders from across the globe are meeting in Edinburgh to develop environmentally sustainable financial solutions.

Scotland has been chosen as the host country in recognition of its growing reputation as a leader in the ethical finance debate.

The two-day Finance for Nature Global Summit brings together Government officials, financial institutions, consumer goods corporations, supply chain intermediaries and conservation organisations to explore new investment ideas aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event has been arranged by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Scottish Government-backed Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), together with the New York Declaration on Forests Global Platform, and is hosted by independent investment manager Baillie Gifford.

The summit comes after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the world is facing a climate emergency.

Recent weeks have seen a renewed sense of urgency in tackling climate change, following a visit to the UK by teenage activist Greta Thunberg and protests by environmental group Extinction Rebellion.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risks Report, half of the top global risks relate to the environment and climate change and have a material impact on a company’s operational costs, reputation, risk and profitability.

The SDGs, which reflect the aspirations of people around the world, provide a global framework for businesses and financial institutions to address these challenges.

With an estimated US$ 2.4trillion annual shortfall in the investment required to achieve the 2030 target there is an urgent need for private sector finance.

Despite growing interest, a fraction of the worldwide invested assets are currently aligned to the SDGs.

The Finance for Nature Global Summit will seek to develop and shape innovative financial instruments to mitigate complex risk, particularly from climate change.

The summit is part of a pioneering $1 million two-year programme of collaboration aimed at mobilising private capital for the SDGs that was announced by UNDP and Scottish Government in October 2018.

Participants include senior representatives from UNDP, Scottish / UK Governments, the ex finance minister of Costa Rica, leading corporates (including Tesco, Mars, Unilever, Nestle and Kering – Gucci/YSL), nature-aligned organisations (including WWF) and global financial institutions (including Aberdeen Standard, Baillie Gifford, Bank of Ireland, RBS, Barclays, Scottish Widows, and HSBC).

Omar Shaikh, founder of the Edinburgh-based Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), said:
“Hosting this event in Scotland is recognition of our growing reputation as a leader in convening the ethical finance debate.
“By building finance-related partnerships in support of investments aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals, we hope to demonstrate genuine impact and address the biggest challenge facing the world today.”

Andrew Cave, Head of Governance and Sustainability at Baillie Gifford, said:
“As long-term investors, we understand the importance of considering sustainability issues in the investment process. Therefore, we are delighted to support this important event.”

Jamison Ervin, the UNDP’s Global Programme on Nature for Development Manager said:
“The recent UN report on nature issued a clarion call regarding our global biodiversity crisis. This summit helps us understand how private sector capital can accelerate nature-friendly growth while also catalysing an inclusive and sustainable future. We need a new economic model, and where better to look for this model than Scotland.”

NOTES

Global Ethical Finance Initiative – www.globalethicalfinance.org
The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) oversees, organises and coordinates a series of global programmes and initiatives to promote finance for positive change around the world. Along with delivering practical projects, GEFI annually hosts in Edinburgh the premier platform that convenes the world’s foremost business, political, civic and social leaders of society to network, share, co-develop and shape a fairer, more sustainable financial system.

UNDP – www.undp.org
Healthy ecosystems are at the heart of development, underpinning societal well-being and economic growth. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its work in nearly 170 countries and territories, creates nature-friendly solutions that balance two imperatives: secure, restore and sustainably manage natural resources, while also protecting the environment that enables human life to flourish.

Scottish Government – www.gov.scot
In 2015 Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to sign up to adopting the SDGs. With the SDGs now embedded into the country’s National Performance Framework the Scottish Government is leading by example through its focus on wellbeing, and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The Principles provide a framework which align well with the tradition of the Scottish banking industry which over the past two centuries pioneered movements focused on alignment, stewardship and governance.

The New York Declaration on Forests Global Platform – www.NYDFglobalplatform.org
The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) outlines ten ambitious global targets to protect and restore forests and end natural forest loss by 2030. The NYDF has been endorsed by 200 countries, sub-national governments, companies, indigenous peoples and NGOs. In 2017, the Global Platform for the New York Declaration on Forests was launched to support endorsers and accelerate achievement of the global goals expressed in the New York Declaration on Forests.

ByQuantum Communications

New consumer advice service

PRESS RELEASE

New consumer advice service launched

A new online and telephone consumer advice service has been launched as a result of £600,000 Scottish Government funding.
Consumeradvice.scot provides advice to people on a range of issues, including buying products both online and in shops, changing mobile phone and internet providers, and purchasing travel insurance.
To make the service more accessible, support can be accessed online through web chat, email or social media, as well as by calling a freephone number 0808 164 6000.
The Service is being run by the Advice Direct Scotland charity, and Business Minister Jamie Hepburn visited the charity’s contact centre in Glasgow to launch the service.

Jamie Hepburn said:
“The new consumer advice service will give the people of Scotland access to advice that matters to them. Whether they’re experiencing issues with a used car they’ve purchased, a holiday booking they’ve faced problems with, or a trader who has been working on their properties the new service is there to help.
“We are using Scotland’s devolved consumer powers to provide a flexible service which protects and empowers the people of Scotland while supporting businesses which are innovative, efficient and fair.”

Pamela Stewart, deputy CEO of Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“We want to provide all citizens of Scotland with practical consumer advice and information which makes a difference and remains completely free to use.
“Accessing advice that people need shouldn’t cost them a penny. We operate Freephone number 0808 164 6000 to ensure nobody is left out of pocket, whether they are phoning from a landline or a mobile.
“But if people would prefer to send us a quick message on Facebook or they fancy a web chat with one of our friendly advisors, we have a range of other options to get in touch.”

Faye Wilson, from the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland (SCOTSS), said:
“It’s vital that the public have access to advice and information when they are faced with consumer problems. It is also important that local authority trading standards services work with Advice Direct Scotland to ensure that the intelligence gleaned from the experiences of consumers can be used to protect the public and legitimate businesses from unfair trading and unsafe products. The Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland looks forward to working with the new service.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Photos from the launch can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/news/new-consumer-advice-service-launched/

Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways.
Freephone: 0808 164 6000
Web chat: www.consumeradvice.scot
Email: advice@consumeradvice.scot
Online: www.consumeradvice.scot
Social media: Facebook (m.me/advice.scot2)

The new service funded by Scottish Government began taking calls in April and is currently handling around 250 enquiries every day, with the most common queries relating to used cars, furniture sales, building work, package holidays and insurance.

Consumeradvice.scot is operated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland and it works in close partnership with Trading Standards staff in local authorities to combat illegal traders and improve the services that consumers receive.

Consumer advisors can:
• Provide practical and impartial advice on how to resolve your consumer problem
• Inform you of the consumer laws which may apply to your situation
• Provide template letters which consumers can use to contact the trader or service provider they are having issues with
• Pass relevant information onto Trading Standards for further investigation

Advisors cannot:
• Make a complaint on an individual’s behalf
• Carry out any legal action on an individual’s behalf

Contact: Flavia Paterson at flavia@quantumcommunications.co.uk or 07825 335 732

ByQuantum Communications

Escape on the world stage

Last weekend, one of our clients was on the global stage.

Scotland’s first Escape room company was chosen to build the challenge for this year’s Red Bull Escape Room World Championship which was held in the UK.

Escape, which was founded in Scotland and has expanded from just one room in Edinburgh to over 200 rooms across the world, performed a key role in the flagship global event in London.

The best teams from 23 countries gathered to compete for the world title. In front of thousands of fans and a huge online audience, Slovakia won the crown.

The Escape model has become a global phenomenon where players must work together to escape from a room. They must find their way out by solving a series of clues and puzzles.

Escape first opened in Edinburgh in 2014 and now employs around 150 workers in the UK, while more than 300,000 customers have visited its rooms.

Escape founder Daniel Hill said:
“Escape games continue to soar in popularity and after Edinburgh played such a pivotal role in the global phenomenon, it’s fantastic that the world championship was held in the UK.
“It was a privilege to be asked to build the unique escape room, which was tackled by the best players from every corner of the world.
“For a company that started with just one room in Edinburgh in 2014, with no idea whether anyone would even knock on the door to play, it’s incredible that we now find ourselves on the global stage.
“This was a unique opportunity to put Scotland’s role in the escape phenomenon on the map.”


Escape is an international escape room company, headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, with over 200 rooms operating across the world. Its trading name is Team Building and Things To Do Limited.

It was the first escape room operator to open in Scotland, launching in May 2014 at St Colme Street, Edinburgh. A second branch of Escape was opened in Glasgow later in 2014 and the first themed game, the Da Vinci Room, also opened in Edinburgh the same year.

Escape then expanded across the UK and the globe. Today, there are rooms in most UK cities and major towns, as well as locations in Ireland, France, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

More details on Escape can be found here: https://www.escapeteambuilding.co.uk/

Watch a video from the World Championships:

Red Bull Escape Room World Championships

What an amazing weekend!Escape celebrated turning 5 at the weekend by building and operating the Escape Room World Championships with Red Bull.A little video attached below and if you want to see any more information on the fantastic even head over to @Red Bull Mind GamersThe most exciting thing though is we are going to open the World Championship rooms to the public int he near future…. do you think you can beat Slovakia?

Posted by Escape on Tuesday, April 16, 2019
ByQuantum Communications

Is a tourist tax the rabbit in the budget hat?

By Alan Roden

The Scottish Budget is a peculiar affair.

Sometimes, it produces great drama – such as the moment it was voted down in 2009, despite ministers passing notes in the Chamber in the hope of last-minute support.

Sometimes, it is a desperately dull moment – such as when it sailed through last year with the support of the Greens.

Generating public interest can therefore be difficult (although the devolution of income tax has made a significant difference).

This year, the stage is set for drama.

The Greens are, so far, withholding support from the SNP minority administration, demanding more money for councils in return for their support.

Taking a leaf out of Alex Salmond’s book during the SNP’s first minority term, SNP MSPs are now openly warning of the risk of an election.

Few expect that to come to pass.

But Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and Holyrood observers are keenly speculating on what that might be.

Mr Mackay has insisted there is ‘no unallocated money’ that can be found to hand to councils, but there are other options available to him.

The Herald today reports that the Greens are ready to make a deal if ‘ministers row back on ring-fencing in local government’ – that’s the money to fund central government policies such as expanding early learning and childcare.

There is also the option of introducing a tourist tax, or Transient Visitor Levy. Or, more specifically, handing councils the power to introduce a tourist tax – something the Greens (and Labour) have argued for.

Edinburgh City Council – led by a coalition between the SNP and Labour – has long been agitating for this, and a recent consultation found 85 per cent support. The proposal would raise around £11million-a-year. The Highlands is also another area where a TVL could be introduced.

There is, however, strong opposition from some business leaders, who fear it would hurt the accommodation sector.

So it’s a policy that could certainly backfire in economic terms. But, if that happens, it won’t be Derek Mackay’s fault. He will not impose a TVL on councils or set the rates – merely give them the option to do so.

Individual councils will be tasked with making it a success or dealing with the fall-out if it goes wrong.

For the SNP, it’s a win-win scenario. Announce the plan this Thursday and it might be enough to secure support from the Greens for the budget to pass, without needing to find any extra cash from government coffers for councils.

ByQuantum Communications

Brexit – the view from Brussels

By Alan Roden

In the offices, restaurants and bars that populate Brussels’ European quarter, the questions are the same as those in Westminster or Holyrood.

How is Theresa May going to get her deal through the Commons?

Will the UK actually leave the EU on March 29?

Is there going to be a General Election or a People’s Vote?

Nobody really asks in the expectation of a decisive answer – they just want the latest theories so they can shake their heads and express incredulity.

When it comes to the British Prime Minister, there is a some respect for her among the advisers and diplomats who make their living from the EU. They are clearly impressed that she keeps on going against all the odds.

But there is little sympathy for her. They believe her ‘red lines’ are the reason there is parliamentary deadlock in the UK.

The withdrawal agreement will not be re-opened unless those red lines are abandoned, they insist. The options of a customs union and/or membership of the Single Market are available, as they always have been. But they are adamant there will be no minor tweaks.

The March 29 deadline is now widely dismissed, and the expectation is that the EU27 will agree to an extension until June 30/July 1, to avoid ‘no deal’ happening by default when the two-year Article 50 timetable runs out. There is also talk of an extraordinary European Council meeting in February.

They hope Brexit will be reversed, but they don’t expect it to be. Britain’s reputation in Brussels is tarnished.

In contrast, there is huge admiration for Ireland, and the Irish in return are extremely grateful that Europe sees its border with the UK as the ‘EU border’ – not just the ‘Irish border’. There appears to be no chance of the Irish being abandoned in this process to secure a deal that will satisfy the DUP or the Brexiteers in the Commons.

On this, the EU is perhaps more united than ever before.

As for the UK’s MEPs – almost certainly the last of their kind – they are trying to get on with their job. Last week, the European Parliament’s internal market and consumer protection committee voted to crackdown on comparison websites. It’s the kind of work that happens week in, week out, but gets little attention in the UK Press.

The behemoths of the digital age – Google, Amazon, Huawei – all lobby hard in Brussels, and Brexit won’t change that. What will change, however, is the UK’s ability to influence decisions.

After Brexit, companies will still need a clear understanding of what is happening in Brussels. In fact, with no UK representation there, it could become more important than ever.

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