If we are throwing quangos into the bonfire, I'd like to fuel the flames with a couple of 'consumer protection' bodies. I figure that government agencies that aim to protect us from faulty goods and inadequate services do no such thing – and indeed, leave us more exposed to them because they tend to reduce competition in consumer markets.
And, by and large, I agree. Regulation does little to protect the consumer, because we already had lashings and lashings of bank regulations and yet the "credit crunch" somehow still happened.
My own experience of dealing with the Advertising Standards Authority where I had a demonstrable, provable case left me wondering a) why I bothered and b) why I was funding these cunts.
We've all seen how useless Ofcom and the PCC and the IPCC, etc., are. So why have them?
In the comments, someone raised the tale of the Ford Pinto, where Ford's boffins allegedly worked out that the cost of fixing the Pinto's design flaw was greater than the cost of paying for a couple of hundred people to get fried to a crisp. So they went ahead with an unmodified design.
And that kind of concept genuinely is a concern.
But the truth of the Ford Pinto design flaw case is not quite as clear cut as our commenter would have us believe:
the number who died in Pinto rear-impact fires was well below the hundreds cited in contemporary news reports and closer to the twenty-seven recorded by a limited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database. Given the Pinto's production figures (over 2 million built), this was not substantially worse than typical for the time
No company wants to get caught hiding such a thing, the coverup always does the damage. The internet now massively improves the ability of people to get such information into the public domain.
In the main, most businesses also want to retain customer loyalty. It costs roughly five times as much to get £10 off a new customer as it does to get £10 off an existing one. That's why mobile phone companies spend so much time and effort analysing churn. And you're not going to retain a customer if you are seen to be doing things like selling cars that are significantly more dangerous than those of your peers.
Regulation always closes the stable door after the horse has bolted, by the time the business or industry has already learned the lesson and has no intention of repeating it. Regulation also prevents competition, which is one of the best ways of actually regulating bad business practices.
In this as in so many other things, regulation and regulatory bodies do not help us at all.
They only protect the players in the industries concerned.