38 million complaints were made last year…
…but 40 milllion weren’t. New figures from Ombudsman Services show that, while a complaint was made once every 1.2 seconds in 2013, more than the same number of problems were experienced by consumers who didn’t get around to doing anything about it.
Unsurprisingly, the most complained about sectors were energy and retail sectors which tied for the biggest share at 17% each. Telecoms providers were close behind at 14% with holidays (6%) and transport (5%) making up the worst offenders list.
The Ombudsman Services survey of 2,023 people showed that hassle was one of the biggest reasons behind the missing complaints, with 33% of respondents saying they had thought about complaining but didn’t actually follow through. Cynicism, however, was the top complaint-turn off, with 36% of people believing that big businesses only care about money and don’t care if something goes wrong with a product or service. A lack of knowledge about the legal process was also given as a reason for not complaining- only 6% of problems are addressed through the small claims court.
Complainers are most likely to contact the company responsible first, but many disputes are now escalated to other independent third parties, with ombudsmen an increasingly popular route. Ombudsman Services reports that energy complaints alone have doubled in the last year, which is probably news to no-one.
Consumers are also taking matters into their own hands to get their problems dealt with, with social media frequently used as a way to gain companies’ attention as well as to share pictures of cats. This method is considered much more effective (27%) than traditional media (9%).
Commenting on the findings, Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said:
“Given that consumer trust in companies is low, the time is right for businesses to embrace third parties as a means of resolving disputes.”
“The research shows that nearly a third of people would be more willing to buy a product or service from a company offering such a service, so transparency clearly has a big role to play in shaping consumer opinion and enhancing brand image,” he added, obtusely.
Our friends at Which! Are always going to encourage complaining, and in 2013, they claim their guide to The Sale of Goods Act was the most popular piece of content on the Which! Consumer Rights website, with more than 180,000 visitors.
Chief spokeswomble Richard Lloyd said “Businesses need to improve their complaints procedures but the law also needs to be made simpler and clearer so that consumers who fail to get a satisfactory response to their complaint can take their case to an ombudsman or the small claims court.”
So are you hot on complaining when the need arises, or do niggles languish at the bottom of a never-ending to-do pile? Would a specialist ‘complaints service’ get you back in the complaining groove or are you already happy taking big business to Small Claims Court when necessary?