There was a much-publicised drop in the Consumer Price Index, despite other domestic bills and costs continuing to increase this month.

The Government proudly announced that inflation fell from 2.6% to 2.5% in August, however September has seen calls by the AA to investigate the price of diesel fuel and many energy suppliers have also increased price tariffs in advance of capped rate offer from last year expiring at the end of September.

Under pressure from consumer groups, the OFT has agreed to launch an inquiry into fuel price rises, with diesel having risen 43% from June 2007 compare to petrol, which has increased by 38% in the same period. In addition to continued instability in the Middle East, the OFT is expected to look at the competition occurring between independent pump stations and the major supermarkets to see if competition is being stifled by the main suppliers (thus effectively limiting consumer choice).

There is also an annual outcry over the rates at which some energy companies increase prices. Granted, following the fall of confidence and investment in nuclear power following the Fukishima plant meltdown, it was likely that natural gas and oil prices would increase due to demand, but invariably energy suppliers continue to make large profits despite a few conciliatory fixed rate packages offered to consumers.

The sharp-eyed and eared out there may have already started experiencing the slew of energy company cold-calling and sales tactics to try and win over consumers to “cheaper” rates. Last year many of these rates suddenly escalated after an aggressive sales push by a well-known energy provider. Although you are well-advised to shop around for the best price, be careful of the small print and get a competitive price locked in for as long as you are able!

Ultimately, although much political mileage is made out of the Consumer Price Index, it doesn’t tend to reflect the daily experience of consumers. House repairs and mortgage rates become some complicated to calculate in the index they are left out, other issues emerge around price selection of products and the actual methodology used is frequently criticised and debated among statisticians: it becomes clear that you need to be very specific in the questions you wish the CPI to answer . . . as a generally indicator it is highly flawed.

 
 
It can't have escaped anyone's attention that RBS and its subsidiaries; NatWest and Ulster Bank have had difficulties with their payment processing systems for the last two weeks. Following a software update glitch, customers have been unable to access their account funds from ATMs, make payments to creditors via direct debits or even get their salaries cleared in some cases.

Whilst expressing sincere regret at the inconvenience caused, RBS CEO Stephen Hester has also promised customers that they will not end up out of pocket as a result of any problems caused by the disruption. In addition to increasing call centre staff, banking hours have been extended past the usual opening times to deal with customer problems, and branches are even opening on Sundays in order to clear the backlog of payments.

If you are affected, it would be advisable to ensure that you keep track of your payments, expected income and outgoings, as well as any payments you know you will have difficulties in making due to funds not being present from a salary, etc. Although RBS has pledged to resolve all issues caused, it will make life easier for everyone if you can supply documentation to support any claim you have for late payment charges or the like.

A good way of doing this is getting hold of a free copy of your credit repot. This will show any negative effects on your credit score that may have been caused by the processing disturbance - RBS should then be able to assist you in contacting your creditors and getting this successfuly challenged - and removed - from your record, restoring your rating.

It is also worth being proactive and letting any scheduled lenders know you might have difficulties as a result of the recent issues in paying on time. Again, this will help getting any adverse notes on your file challenged and removed once the software update issue is resolved.