Time for a Polish Ministry of Consumer and Small Business Affairs


The recent Polish Presidential elections have shown that electors are tired of the same old arguments between PO and PiS (the two main parties) but are not at all sure what they do want. Well let me help electors:

The real albeit not articulated concern of ordinary people be they rich or poor (i.e those who do not believe in conspiracy theories or that the only moral issues are in vitro and gender)  is the issue of citizen rights as consumers and as small entrepreneurs.

I am sure that I cannot be the only citizen who is sick and tired of being taken for a ride by T Mobile trying to sell me services I do not want or need, PGNiG and RWE trying to tie me into long term contracts with the offer of cheaper energy only in the first year, LOT having a reservation system which requires me to enter my mobile phone number in two different formats and an on line check in system which does not allow check in on a code share flight operated by Lufthansa or TAP, a totally user unfriendly social security authority requiring me to prove that I am not a camel, having to queue five (yes five) times to apply for a disabled parking permit, being unable to apply for a passport or ID card by post or internet and having to supply “civil” servants with information which the state already has.

A recent press article shows how easy it is for large corporations to collect moneys not due from consumers and small businesses using the e-sąd system where the virtual judge does not even ask the putative debtor to put their side of the argument before issuing a payment order which allows the baillifs to run riot. And woe betide if you have moved house and TPSA has ignored your contract cancellation and continues to issue invoices sent to your old address and the court sends the payment order also to that and not your current address completely ignoring that you are now “zameldowany” somewhere else. As recent scandals have shown the state is powerless against baillifs who sell assets not belonging to the debtor and against officials in the Prosecutors office who allow the photgraphing of documents.

The government has just now published guidelines for how the various central and local government departments should communicate using the rather derogatory benchmark of language understandable by a mentally deficient grandmother. Well what about the language of contracts. What about the principle of equal treatment of the parties and defense of those who do not have access to full information? What about small print in contracts. By the by I now sign contracts and add the words I have NOT read the terms and conditions. When was the last time you tried to return faulty goods to any retailer and in particular the large multi nationals? Why do you as a consumer have to check sell by dates just because the fines for selling out of date goods are so laughably small as to be irrelevant?

Why as a small producer do you still have to wait for months for the likes of Tesco and Auchan to pay for goods they have long ago sold? Why if electors say that they are against so called “rubbish” employment contracts do they continue to buy Chinese products which clearly are produced by in effect slave labour? Why are banks able to increase charges by stealth?

And lastly why is the new Minister of Health a doctor who represents the supply side of health care rather than someone who would represent the consumer?

So come on Prime Minister Kopacz. Time to take the political debate away from substitute issues and concentrate on issues which would make life far simpler for consumers and small businesses who actually create employment. Time to do away with Social Security (ZUS) as a seperate tax system and move to a single system of taxation which would not create artificial anomalies. And time to create a Ministry for Consumer Affairs able and willing to create a truly level playing field.

There is a world of difference between a free competetive economy and one in which the freedom applies to only large state owned enterprises and oligarchies. The State is there to create a level playing field and protect the weaker. And the weaker is clearly the consumer i.e you and I.

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