Top Ten Consumer Complaints and How to Deal With Them
Have you ever wondered what the most complained about consumer issues are? If you have, it probably won’t come as any surprise to learn that the Consumer Direct advice service reported that second hand car complaints topped the list of consumer woes in the last year.
Complaints to the service about second hand cars bought from independent dealers topped the list of complaints recorded by advice service Consumer Direct for the fourth year in a row.
Who Are Consumer Direct?The advisors at Consumer Direct have certainly been kept very busy with complaints and enquiries in the past year, as they report that they have answered more than 1.5 million calls and emails in the 2009 calendar year. Encouragingly, the figure was less than the previous year, down four per cent, but almost 850,000 complaints against traders were made to the service.
Consumer Direct is run by the Office of Fair Trading and offers a telephone and online service giving consumers information on their legal rights along with practical advice on resolving disputes. If such as specialist advice is needed, Consumer Direct also refers complaints to their local authority Trading Standards Services or to another relevant organisation that can help them.
Complaints about Used CarsOverall, Consumer Direct received a total of 50,790 complaints just about second hand cars bought from independent dealers. This figure was up by eight per cent on the previous year. If you have a complaint about a used car, you are protected by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act as long as you purchased it from a dealer. It doesn’t matter if the dealer is an independent or a large franchise, you are entitled to a car that is of ‘satisfactory quality’ and your contract is with the dealer and not the manufacturer, so don’t be fobbed off with manufacturer’s warranties if you bought from a franchise.
If the car is used, that aspect also has to be taken into consideration when you’re asking for redress – the key term is ‘reasonable’ and therefore if you buy an almost new car you would expect it to be almost perfect, but a ten-year old car with tens of thousands of miles on the clock cannot be expected to be as good quality.
Complaints about Electrical ItemsComplaints about TVs were second on the list from Consumer Direct. This figure was up by nine per cent. With televisions and other electrical items bought new, you have rights under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act to expect your goods to be of satisfactory quality, as with used cars. What you may not know is that if a fault develops with your new TV or electrical item within the first six months of you buying it, the law assumes that the fault was present at the time you bought it and you are automatically entitled to redress.
If the trader believes that the fault wasn’t present when the item was sold, it’s up to them to prove it, and not your responsibility to prove otherwise. So if your expensive HD television won’t switch on after three weeks, it’s reasonable to expect a refund, or an exchange. After five months and three weeks, you would still be able to ask for a free repair, but not as likely to get a completely new TV.
Complaints about laptops recorded the highest rise, from 12,395 in 2008 to 17,611 in 2009, up 42 per cent, and were number five on the most-complained about list.
Mobile Phone ContractsComplaints about mobile phone service agreements were the third on the list of problems reported. If you buy a mobile phone, you need to be connected to a network in order to use it, so you often take out a line rental contract. By doing this you will enter into a contract with the Network Service Provider.
If they don’t give you the service you’ve signed up to, you could be entitled to a refund, compensation or both from the service provider. The situation gets more complicated if you buy a phone through an agent that arranges your contract with the provider, but legally, for faults with a handset bought independently from a trader, your rights are against the person who sold you the phone.
If the complaint is about the service, you should complain to the network provider you have the contract with. If there is a fault on the network or SIM card, you may be entitled to compensation.
The Top Ten Most Complained About List
- Second hand cars purchased from independent dealers
- Mobile Phones (service agreements)
- Mobile Phones (hardware)
- Lap-tops, notebooks and tablet PCs
- Car repairs and servicing from independent garages
- Second hand cars purchased from franchise dealers
- Upholstered furniture
- Women’s clothing
- Telephone services (land line)