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

Insect Found in Tesco Rice Named Philip After CEO

So, time for another Tesco complaint as I asserted my consumer rights again! I know how popular Tesco posts are so here we go.

Last year, there I was opening my bag of Tesco risotto rice and found an insect. Eugh. Unfortunately my natural instinct was to kill it, before thinking it would have been better to film it running freely round the rice. I named him Phillip after Phillip Clarke Tesco CEO. Seemed apt somehow.

Insect in Tesco rice named Phillip after the CEO
Insect in Tesco rice named Phillip after the CEO

Email Complaint
So after finding something else to cook, I complained to Clarke. Without boring you with the details here are some snippets:

“… I was horrified to find a live insect crawling through the rice. I killed it, shame but I didn’t want it getting away. I have attached a photo. Obviously, as you will know this breaks the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) as the product was far from satisfactory quality and it was not fit for purpose either! I didn’t want to cook an insect. I’m sorry that I don’t know what kind of insect it is, but as the paella was packaged in Italy perhaps the packers there can tell you. … someone tweeted that they had found an insect in their Tesco rice.. This leads me to think that it could be a serious issue and concern for Tesco…. How many other insects are crawling around the rice packaging area? Unidentified object in the bagging area” takes on a new meaning don’t you think?
 
So, I have emailed you before, you may recall that I emailed you earlier in the year, but Tesco staff and you did not reply and I took Tesco to court. I won. I emailed you a couple of years ago and you ignored me then too. However, I’m hoping that someone in the Executive Team may be concerned…….who wants insects in their food? Not a vegetarian certainly.
 
I trust that I will hear from someone (it would be nice if you had the courtesy of responding, it would make a nice change)…” etc. etc.
 

Response
Well. They asked me to take it back to the store. Nah, a) effort and b) how do we know it wouldn’t get “lost”.

Name and address for complaining to Tesco Chief Executive Office :) You can find CEO contact details at ceoemail.com You're welcome :)
Name and address for complaining to Tesco Chief Executive Office 🙂 You’re welcome

So I said I would post it. I also kept some rice just in case it should get “lost” the insect had after all been crawling through it. This is the parcel:

I got offered £30. Make of that what you will. In the scheme of things not very much given that I could have taken it to Trading Standards and if I was dishonest could have said I’d eaten another one and had been ill. But as I have said many times, I don’t lie  and I don’t complain just for the sake of getting pay outs. It is always about the principle of the thing.

I also asked what investigation they were undertaking to prevent this happening again. You’ll be pleased to hear that they did contact their supplier. Perhaps not so pleased to hear that the supplier has many checks for pest control. The poor old beetle was confused. I kid ye not. “On examination of the pack and rice returned we identified the insect  as a confused flour beetle.” The report also went on to state that it could not discount  the possibility of cross contamination  occurring in the distribution  chain or storage at home.” Now, given that actually I had taken delivery of my shopping that day and the bag had gone straight from bag to (clean!) work surface we can throw out that possibility. So, the company said it had had no other complaint. So, are we left with the assumption that it is cross contamination? Watch out for those beetles in your flour or anything else given that they apparently get confused easily.

Couple of weeks later I found another insect in rice! Unfortunately I couldn’t remember which bag of rice the previous one was or I would have gone to Trading Standards stating there was a clearly a problem!

So what extra protein have you ever found in food?