Ageism in consumer products and services

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Maybe you’ve received a leaflet that is offensive or perhaps you’ve had motor or travel insurance refused because of your age or had access to a new credit card or other services limited. 

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What you can do

If you feel that you have been treated badly as a customer on the basis of your age‚ here are some actions that you can take:

  • Use the company’s official complaints procedure. The complaints procedure will often give you the name of the Customer Services Manager but always try to speak‚ or write‚ to the most senior person who deals with complaints. You can remind them that the over 50s spend £260 billion per year‚ control 70% of the nation’s wealth and 60% of its savings (Henley Centre‚ April 2003).
  • Take your business elsewhere‚ and tell your friends to do the same. Then, write to the company telling them that ageism is the reason they’ve lost your business.
  • Contact a consumer champion and tell them about your experiences. Many local and national newspapers have consumer pages as well as readers’ editors. You can also contact a consumer TV programme eg‚ BBC’s Watchdog.
  • Complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about non-broadcast advertisements‚ sales promotions and direct marketing. You may want to complain if you’ve seen a press advertisement‚ promotion‚ leaflet or poster that you think is ageist and you want it changed or withdrawn. The ASA can stop misleading or offensive advertising and ensure sales promotions are run fairly.
  • Complain about television or radio advertising through the regulator - OFCOM (Office of Communications).
  • Be wary of sharp selling practices. Think carefully before you invite a salesperson into your home. If you believe that you have been wrongly sold a product or service‚ you may be able to complain to the Trading Standards Department of your Local Authority. Check in your phone book for your local Trading Standards Office‚ or call your Local Authority. Many trade bodies have codes of practice that may be helpful ie‚ the Direct Marketing Association‚ the Institute of Sales Promotion and the Timeshare Council. Official complaints can usually be made to these bodies.
  • If you feel pressured by unsolicited direct mail you can contact the Mailing Preference Service. They’ll be able to stop most unsolicited mail-shots. Similarly‚ if you want to reduce the number of sales calls you receive contact the Telephone Preference Service.

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Age NI Advice:
0808 808 7575
Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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