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

A New Programme Format! People on Their Own Gaining Redress from Companies!

Yesterday Martin Lewis asked for people who have had successes with gaining money back using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Obviously I have! More than once! Having good stories to tell I got in contact with Laura. She wanted me to come in to be interviewed this morning. I couldn’t because I wouldn’t have been able to get there in time (despite her kind offers of help). She told me that for the rest of the series they will be looking at people that need Martin’s help on various topics. This is the only segment where they needed to find people to talk about their success stories. For example, they’d be looking for someone who has had a private parking ticket further down the line, but not someone who has already successfully appealed against it. (Of course I have had success appealing a parking ticket!)

The excellent Watchdog, and charismatic Dominic Littlewood etc. all focus on people who need help in gaining redress. How about a programme showing people who are doing it without help?  Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for these informative programmes (even threatening to take matters to Watchdog is often enough to get what you want!) and they do cover the more difficult ones where often I would simply be taking the company to Court. (Yes done that and won too more than once!) However, in addition to this style of programme wouldn’t it be good to see normal people challenging CEOs on their customer service? Or simply gaining redress on simple matters? Wouldn’t that make for a different kind of programme? It would be just as helpful as the other types. Sometimes people watch Watchdog and think that there’s no point in trying to gain redress from companies because it’s too difficult, takes too long or they don’t have the knowledge. I would love to see (be part of even!) a programme where average people assert their legal rights and indeed are part of improving customer service with their feedback. This might encourage people to fight too! I’d give Anne Robinson a run for her money if I could speak with Phillip Clarke CEO of Tesco who ignored me! More than once. Perhaps some more women on there too BBC?!

Would you like to see a programme where you see people fight back at companies treating them inappropriately? Find it interesting, useful, and/or helpful? Who wants to put the TV series proposal together?!