CITY OF YORK Council Trading Standards is keen to make local consumers aware of the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) campaign - It's Your Call, which encourages consumers to recognise the power they wield and to reap the benefits of competition.

The OFT's campaign reminds consumers that they do have the power to change the way things work and influence what a business offers, and also make substantial savings.

The message is, whether you're buying a big appliance like a fridge, having work done on your home or doing your weekly shopping, make sure that businesses compete for your money by following these top ten tips:

1. Be assertive - ask for what you want - don't just accept what is offered. If you want work to be completed by a certain date, then tell your supplier and get it in writing.

2. Negotiate on the price you are offered. You can sometimes get a better price even from high street stores.

3. Do not be embarrassed about asking for a reduction - it is money in your pocket.

4. Shop around and do your homework before you buy. Always get more than one price.

5. Ask yourself what is the most important thing to you. Is it quality, service or price? Are you prepared to pay extra for a better after-sales service. Do you need a top-quality item.

6. If you're unhappy with the service or the goods you've bought, complain. If you do not, the supplier will think what they have sold you is okay and they will not know it is not acceptable in the future.

7. Don't be afraid to tell a supplier you have got a better offer elsewhere. Remember once you've accepted an offer from a supplier you must honour the agreement as long as they keep to their side of the deal.

8. Ask if the supplier is prepared to add anything to get your business, such as extras or free servicing.

9. Make sure you have taken account of additional costs like printer cartridges and servicing.

10. Remember businesses are competing for your money.

The benefits from consumers exercising informed choice go much wider.

Markets that work well protect consumers' interests and are key to a dynamic enterprising economy.

Businesses responding best to the needs of their customers will thrive at the expense of those offering poor goods and services.

For information about this or any other consumer matters phone Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.

Updated: 08:53 Thursday, March 24, 2005