German politicians not trusted to look after consumer interests: survey

Less than one in five Germans trust politicians to look after their interests as consumers, according to a survey published by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) on Wednesday.

While the majority of respondents believed that politicians had “a responsibility to protect their interests as consumers,” only 17 percent trusted them to do so.

The number of Germans who trusted politicians to protect their interests as consumers had fallen by 10 percentage points since 2017, which indicated that “consumer confidence in politics was declining,” according to the vzbv.

At the same time, however, Germans felt their interests were especially well protected in the areas of electricity and heating as well as transport and travel, according to the vzbv.

“A number of consumer policy projects from the coalition agreement have been implemented, but much still needs to be done, especially where consumers really feel the pressure,” said vzbv Executive Director Klaus Mueller.

German consumers saw a particularly great need for action in the areas of internet and digitization as only one-third of consumers believed that their interests were adequately protected there, according to the survey.

In the telephone, mobile communication, financial and insurance sectors, around half of Germans surveyed felt that their interests as consumers were adequately protected.

The survey also found that many Germans were not saving for retirement because “they do not trust the existing investment opportunities.”

According to the survey, only one in two Germans put aside a monthly allowance for old age, while every third German respondent did not save for retirement provisions on a monthly basis.

Vzbv noted that market observations in the financial sector reflected this lack of trust and that investment and old-age provision were “one of the biggest problems for consumers.”

According to the vzbv, 26 percent of complaints from German consumers collected by market watchdogs were linked to investments and old-age provisions.

“In order to strengthen confidence, people’s everyday problems must be put on the political agenda,” vzbv stressed.

Looking ahead, Mueller said that “numerous consumer protection projects are still on the agenda that the German government must tackle in order to make consumers’ lives simpler, safer and more affordable.”