Just as I predicted, Age UK is back in the news again with more bad news. (This follows on from the three previous blogs which you can see by clicking on “Age UK ” in the Tag Cloud).
After the Daily Mail questioning the value for money of their energy deal with EON, Money Mail has now done
an investigation into more of their services. This time they have focussed on insurance policies promoted in partnership with Ageas :-
- Car insurance was found to be three times more expensive, £673 compared to £224 with LV=.
- Home and contents insurance was double for a semi-detached house in Bristol, £161 compared to £88 offered by Halifax.
- Travel insurance for a couples 8 day trip to Italy cost almost double, at£78 when compared to £45 with Saga.
These examples are all taken from an article written by James Burton.
As happened with the previous example, Age UK’s reaction was predictably defensive which is never very convincing.
If they are not a correct representation of Age UK’s product offers, Age UK should sue the Daily Mail for misrepresentation. On the other hand if the criticisms are accurate and the scale of the differences in quotations is significant, then Age UK has inadvertently committed a major breach of trust with their elderly customers.
Age UK’s response was ‘Age UK will always offer good value products but cannot promise to be the cheapest for every customer’.
Age UK is in deep water with this issue and responses like the one above will just not do ! If they do not deal with it in a less defensive way they will find themselves being investigated by the Regulators or by an even more high profile Parliamentary Select Committee.
They sold 482,000 Ageas policies last year, worth £21.9 million.
All sorts of companies sell products to older people – everything from double glazing to anti-ageing cosmetics to glasses and hearing aids. Many of them use questionable sales techniques which fall within the law, but only just. Sacks of junk mail, endless unsolicited phone calls are all designed to get a high pressure salesman’s foot through the door. Many older people finding it difficult to cope with this.
Sadly these days you come to expect sharp practices from commercial companies, particularly when selling to older people, but Age UK is trading on it charitable reputation. It is close to abuse of vulnerable people to be taking advantage of their trust in this way.