Consumer Action Group
The Consumer Action Group (CAG) is a UK organisation that campaigns for customer rights, particularly for the recovery of unfair charges imposed by UK banks on their customers and assists individuals in reclaiming charges.
It was founded by Dave Smith and Marc Gander and was the first organisation of its kind to campaign for effective regulation of the UK retail banking sector while assisting many thousands of ordinary people to successfully challenge their banks for the return of unlawfully imposed penalty charges.
The two founders of the Consumer Action Group met in a Yahoo forum called Bank Charges Hell (BCH), which boasted over 200 members. It became apparent that this method of communication for a national campaign (BCH concentrated on people having their money returned to them) was not viable, and the administrator of BCH was contacted with ideas of a discussion forum as a platform to launch a national campaign against unlawful bank charges. The administrator of BCH turned down the offer, and as a result Dave Smith and Marc Gander formed the Bank Action Group forum. The name was later changed to The Consumer Action Group.
As the site has expanded and moved into other areas, its overall name has changed to 'The Consumer Forums'.
This is to demonstrate that the initial founding reason—i.e. the bank charges issue in the UK—is not the only area that the group wishes to involve itself in.
The Consumer Forum site http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/ now consists of a wiki, inspired by Wikipedia, with over 400 articles. It has been likened to a 'Rosetta Stone' of consumer law—in other words, a bridge between the legalese usually in use by the legal profession and the layman.
Also in existence is a debt-help forum, a consumer issues forum, and a bank charge forum.
Many of the standard letters that are available on the site can be created automatically, simply by a member completing a small form with basic information.
A 'buddy system' exists in which a member can enter their postcode and a list of results will show like-minded people within a certain radius who are prepared to go to court with that member in the event of a court case, for moral support.
There also exists within the Consumer Forums a highly successful and striving sub-section named the Debt Action Group. The prime aim of this sub-section is to give help and advice. This sub-section has been extremely successful in defending actions by creditors.
The Debt Action Group also strives to ensure that collection activities by debt collection agencies comply with UK Statute Law and the Office of Fair Trading Debt Collection Guidelines.
No charge is made for the use of these tools.
The site does not tolerate potentially libelous postings and errs on the side of caution.
To protect members' personal information, the site's parent company is registered with, and complies with, the Data Protection Act.
The Consumer Action Group is funded primarily by donations from members.
Other funding comes from the sale of relevant legal books offered at a discount to members.
Occasionally, when larger sums of money, such as a fund to aid in the fighting of a case against 'unfair' bank charges, are needed, Martin Lewis's Money Saving Expert site contributes as well.
Since the inception of Bank Charges Hell (BCH), which started with 200+ members the site has developed into CAG which now boasts a membership of ~340,000 http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/index.php
The Consumer Action Group are frequently asked to comment publicly on UK consumer issues. Spokespersons from the Consumer Action Group are asked to contribute to news articles in UK national newspapers and indeed feature in major UK news publications & national radio.
As has recently been announced on the Consumer Action Group web site, co-founder Marc Gander now provides more consumer advice via the talk show on Radio Tatras International called PostCard From Poprad. Links to the show can be found here or here.