Fewer than 45% of People in the UK Use their Consumer Rights

Well that was interesting. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey How, When and Why Do You Complain?

Key findings

How many people complain?
According to this survey undertaken July 2014 70% of us complain when we receive poor service. This rises to 90% who complain when we purchase a faulty item. If you look to your own networks this doesn’t really ring true and I think many people put that they generally complain because they felt that they should! Or it is not every time they receive poor service. Or many of those complaints are not successful in gaining redress. This theory is backed up by answers to another question, “If you usually don’t complain is it because…” Now, 59% of respondents gave reasons and only 41% said that they always complained.  However, complaining is on the increase and the latter figures fit in with The Ombudsman’s report on complaining. 38 million customers complained in 2013. But 40 million more complaints went unaddressed as people stayed quiet. 48% and 52%.

In addition, as detailed below many more people are now using social media to complain and some people may consider writing a 140 character tweet as regularly complaining! It’s not necessarily always gaining redress and it’s very difficult to assert your legal rights in 140 characters!

46% say that when they don’t complain it is because it is too much effort or takes too much time.

Gaining redress
When considering purchasing an item/service either online or in store how easy it will be to gain redress if anything goes wrong is a factor in 74% of people’s decision making about where to buy (either sometimes or always). The same number of people shop online as do in store because they think it will be easier to return an item that way.

How well do you know your legal rights?
This is what I found the most interesting. Given that 70- 90% of people say they always complain, only 7% said they know their legal rights well and use them regularly. 5% know the basics of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act. A further 33% will check out their rights before complaining, so assuming that they won’t always do that for various reasons, we know that fewer than 45% of people use their legal rights. So 7 + 5 + 33 = the 45% but I believe that is lower as some of the 33% won’t always check out their legal rights and complain.

Uswitch undertook a survey in May 2014 and found that almost two fifths of consumers (38%) are unsure about their rights and 36% say they do not know them well. Only 4% claim to be truly confident.

How many people do you tell about poor service?
Remember the line “Receive good service tell 1, receive poor service tell 10”? Not any more.
Less than 2% of people tell no-one.
49% tell 1 – 10 people
11% tell 10 – 20 and now
38% tell hundreds and sometimes thousands of people due to social media.
So companies be warned! It is wholly irrelevant how many complaints you actually receive! Less than 60% don’t always complain but look how many people are they telling?

Social media
68% of respondents use social media to complain.
37% of those find it effective sometimes
16% find it always effective
12% find it is never effective
Clearly social media is on the rise. There are more details on what social media works for in complaining here.

When you receive good service do you give feedback?
The majority of people think they do. I think some customer service people may disagree!

Summary
It would appear that people think they complain more than they do, certainly less know their legal rights. There is an increase in using social media to complain and whilst this may be considered complaining, it often doesn’t gain the legal redress that longer correspondence elicits. The main reasons for people not complaining are that it takes too much time and effort which might suggest that companies make it difficult to complain? Thoughts around how easy it is to gain redress when things go wrong are becoming a key factor in where people choose to buy.

People really need to complain more. If they did perhaps service would improve it would have to. And now, to help you, here’s a book! #complainlikeacow

How to Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and RESULTS! Take a look at the reviews too! #chuffed 🙂

Don’t forget, The Complaining Cow’s Top 20 Tips Tips here and video here:

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow BBC Breakfast TV Discusses How We Complain in the UK

Consumer reviews pros, cons and who uses them?

Recently I was asked if I used review sites. Yup. Of course I do. I was also asked if I thought people did generally and if so which ones. Interesting question I thought, so I did some extensive scientific research over a couple of days and asked a few friends, family, and those who follow me on Twitter and those who like my page on Facebook. So here are my findings….

Background to review sites

It takes longer to look up reviews than it does to write a letter of complaint. So few people put a complaint in writing. The rest one assumes are content with accepting poor food, faulty goods and poor service for which they have paid! But more people appear to spend far more time looking at what a best buy might be. Reviews are being written and read more as other sites spring up all the time.

What sites get used the most?

Even what must arguably be the most well known and most used review site Trip Advisor was used by only 35% of respondents to my survey and less than 10% post reviews. Amazon was also popular with 30% using it and of course Which? with a surprisingly low score of 20% of respondents using it.

Other sites getting a mention were, AV Forums, Gsmarena.com, Argos, Review Centre, Yelp, Ciao, DooYoo, Checkatrade, B & Q and new on the scene BizAdvisor. One or two of those I hadn’t even heard of and I use review sites! But! More people went by the name of a product than used these sites.

Amazon reviews are good because if you are already on the site looking to buy it takes no extra clicks to see the review. Some of the reviews are  very funny too. Take a look at my mate Iain Duncan Smith’s first (and last?!) novel on there. (Check out the “All I know series too!)

Reliability

How much can you depend on sites anyway? Anything less than having 5 reviews you are going to disregard. There isn’t nearly enough reliable information. Let’s take Trip Advisor. Now I do write reviews there! Lots of ’em! Not just bad ones either (I know you were thinking that!)  but I do take just as much delight in being given a “found this helpful” vote on reviews which clearly would stop someone staying somewhere as I do with ones where extra business will be gained. I think writing reviews helps people and it doesn’t take that long. Part of my principles – if people complained more then service would have to improve, it’s the same thing really, the more we share good and bad service the more accountable businesses become and the more people will use review sites. A good review site will allow businesses to comment on reviews. It happens surprisingly little on Trip Advisor. A site where businesses are able to have the last word when someone criticises them on one of the (if not the) largest reviews sites out there and still very few businesses use their right to reply. So the business is missing many a trick a) to thank customers to encourage them to return and b) risk other people accepting a review that may not be wholly true.

I’ve also known people ask people for fake good reviews for themselves or friends. Bad move, makes them look very dishonest, mainly because it is!

Spotting the fake reviews good and bad

The point about relying on reviews was picked up by people who said they didn’t use review sites citing them to be unreliable. That why I advise the following

  1. Only really take on board reviews where there are at least 5 entries so you can discount the top and bottom.
  2. If someone is saying that an item has this great part and that superb element but the majority of the reviews say otherwise, be dubious!
  3. Likewise, if someone says they find a product useless or similar and the majority of other reviews are positive, it’s likely to be fake. Not necessarily a paid for review, but a competitor or a troll, many of them exist on the Internet!
  4. Check out the reviewer. Click on the reviewer and their other reviews, see if there are any similar patterns. Are they all 5*?
  5. If the reviewer has all their reviews hidden that is unusual. If they are leaving bad reviews it could well be a troll or a competitor
  6. Look at dates. Lots in a short amount of time, particularly at point of launch or after lots of low scores.
  7. Someone who undertakes honest reviews for companies such as bloggers will state that they were given the item for free.

Word of warning about Trustpilot

“Ah” said someone “TrustPilot is good because you have to verify that you were a real customer” You’d think that would be good wouldn’t you? Not necessarily. Last year a company tweeted that they would give people a £20 M & S voucher to the first 10 people (may have been 20) who wrote a good review. Totally backfired, people retweeted this and it did them no favours. They deleted the tweet later but the damage was done. Some of it by me it has to be said. I felt it my duty. Me being me tried to do something about it and I contacted Trust Pilot. I left a review stating what this company had done and the business got the review removed within an hour because I was not a real customer. I did it again and got abuse from the company! I contacted Trust Pilot and told them what had happened and they asked for my customer reference clearly not having read my email stating that I wasn’t a customer! Followers of this blog know how much that sort of thing annoys me so I emailed again, and again they came back with the same thing! I got really cross and made myself very clear but so did they, that they would do nothing about the company which had attempted to buy reviews, a clear breach of their own rules. I have never trusted this review site since.

Update 22/10/15 Interesting article regarding Amazon suing people for fake reviews and some pointers on spotting the fake reviews.

Further warnings about fake reviews

Update 18/10/18 Which? goes undercover to expose fake and paid-for reviews

Should you use review sites when purchasing an item?

So, given the above my opinion on review sites remain the same. It is a good guide but should only play a small part in your purchasing decision until more people start writing reviews.

How much do you write and or use review sites?

 

If you have received poor quality good or services you should certainly complain and you can threaten leaving an honest review on forums etc. if necessary. See Top 20 Tips How to Complain! for more help.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

For masses of information and help with asserting your legal rights including template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to GettingREFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

The Complaining Cow logo complaints, consultancy, speaker and more

 

 

 

If you are a company that wants to reduce those bad reviews check out The Complaining Cow services.