I recently spent some time in Wales to support my mum through testing for early signs of dementia. The information and support provided by AgeUK and the Alzheimer’s Society is the best on the world. After spending considerable time helping my mum get her personal affairs in order, what I discovered about our country’s biggest companies troubled me.
The UK’s biggest mobile phone provider had moved my mum onto their most expensive contract providing 5GB of mobile data a month with unlimited calls and texts; she had used just 8Mb of data during the previous three months. The UK’s biggest telephone and broadband provider had moved her onto their most expensive package that included free international calls and the highest speed broadband; she lives alone and does not own a games console. The UK’s biggest gas company supplied her gas and electricity and had moved her onto their most expensive tariff; they did not even place her on the cheaper dual fuel tariff. After switching we were able to save £120 a month and upgrade her mobile phone to a bigger screen which she can now read. Our biggest telecoms company has since issued a leaving bill for breach of contract, even though a contract was not signed. They have since served my mum a notice of intention to prosecute if the £220 is not paid. She worries terribly about this and I am committed to helping her, many elderly or vulnerable people do not have family or friends who can help.
I know the senior Corporate Social Responsibility leads for the companies referred to above, they are good people. I am going to write to each of them to ask if they can lead their organisation towards being a truly Responsible Business. Behaving responsibly towards the elderly or most vulnerable people in our society should be at the heart of any organisation’s CSR or Responsible Business strategy. This has to be addressed and the journey is just beginning, please send me your ideas and let’s see what we can do.