Thursday, December 20, 2007

A New Job and New Blog!

Hi all, on November 27th last I was elected Chairman of the Consumers's Association of Ireland (CAI). Big task, but I am really looking forward to it. Have a look at our website if you want a bit more information about CAI or want to join, all new members welcome. I am hoping to blog regularly on consumer issues in Ireland from my own perspective. While I am chair of the CAI, the comments and views expressed here will be my own.

Perhaps you are wondering what the hell is a "consumerist". Well it is short hand for "consumer activist". I have been interested in consumer issues for over many years, my journey started off trying to sort out a consumer problem with a car purchase and that led me to the CAI in the first place, where I have been a member for over 10 years.

In that time I have come to realise that the interests of consumers are very much subservient to those of producers, providers, trade unions and other vested interests. Time and time again, vested interests are in there dictating policy in their area of involvement. Given the range of areas, its hard for consumers or consumer organisations to invest the time and money in issues, that a specific trade body such as the Irish Bankers Federation or the Construction Industry Federation can. However, in my view successive Governments have failed to even attempt to address the imbalance in policy making and decision making and some of their policies and decisions could have been produced by the vested interests themselves. I am hoping through my work with CAI to redress that imbalance. Sometimes consumer activism is associated with consumerism, the concept that shopping is the new religion. I am definitely not an adherent to that new faith.

I am in particular interesting in issues affecting vulnerable consumers (those on low/fixed incomes) and in the potential for progressive consumer activism and sustainable consumerism. I know thats sounds a bit heavy, but I hope my posts over the coming period explain it a bit more. Caveat Emptor.