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Tackling Consumer Frights this Halloween and beyond…

Consumer Frights

As we have fun carving pumpkins, dressing up and playing a prank or two with a plastic spider, most of us enjoy the tricks and treats that come with Halloween each year.

But when a frightful experience, bump in the night or magical event goes wrong for real, it isn’t so easy to stay in character as a witch or wizard – even though you may feel like you want to magic yourself away from the situation!

So, this All Hallows’ Eve, we’re sharing our guides to the top five most common ‘Consumer Frights’ we’ve seen over the past year.

train delays broadband delivery problems

Which of these consumer frights problems have you come up against the most?

Bad broadband and wicked wi-fi issues (34%, 352 Votes)

Pesky pothole damage (30%, 309 Votes)

None of these (14%, 147 Votes)

Troubling train delays (10%, 102 Votes)

Devilish delivery problems (6%, 66 Votes)

Frightful faulty goods (5%, 48 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,024

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Helping people to take action and remedy their consumer problems through complaints, claims and compensation rights guidance, we’re all about tackling the pesky poltergeists that wreak havoc for consumers all year round.

If any of these Consumer Frights look familiar to you, make sure you read our guidance to help you exercise your consumer rights and get your money back if it’s due to you.

Have you experienced any consumer frights in the past year? Are there other frightful consumer experiences you’ve had? What steps did you take to banish the banshee?


@melmassey Hi Melissa,

The intro says:
So, this All Hallows’ Eve, we’re presenting some of the most common ghoulish ‘Consumer Frights’ people have shared with us over the past year.

Is there a link missing?

I wondered that, but it seems each of the images is hyperlinked.

The links just tell me what to do about the problems not give consumer experiences.

Or am I missing something? 🤔

Hello Alfa and Ian, sorry that the phrasing was a little misleading. We’ve created the images to share the guides to the most consumer rights problems we see. Each image will take you through to a guide.

Seeing as it’s All Hallows Eve-eve(!) we’d like to hear any consumer rights problems you’ve encountered recently – the more ghoulish and creative the better, and I’m sure Melissa will be happy to offer some advice for any of your consumer frights! 🎃

Thanks @ldeitz. The intro makes sense now. 👻

We’ve popped a poll in too now – not sure what you make of this, but it’s our poll number 777 😨

Probably better than 666 Lauren.

But a quick investigation into 777 and trying to keep this on topic…

In Unix’s chmod, the value 777 grants all file access permissions to all user types. Dangerous, could give you serious computer problems😱

You’re Increasing Your Awareness to Know Yourself Better getting savvy to scams🤔

You’re Ready to Practice The New Knowledge You have taken note of all the good advice on Which? and put it into practice🤓

You’re Interacting in Perfect Synchronicity With The Universe following all that good advice, life is now a breeze 🎆

Your holiday plane ✈️ hopefully won’t have to claim compensation

777 on a slot machine 🎰 You have won the jackpot.🤑🤑🤑🥂

I’m interested to know who created the animated gifs in the introduction.

Our very talented internal design team pulled them together on Friday 🙂

I normally have little time for animated gifs but I like these customised ones.

Thanks @wavechange, I’ll let the team know

It might be useful to have a sixth category, – “none of these”, as happily for me that is true. However, I do have a gripe that is, regrettably, not covered by consumer rights. That is when you ask a public organisation for information that they should have, and they either do not reply or fob me off with a smokescreen (can you do that?).

I can pop that option in, Malcolm

It was a bit tongue in cheek, Lauren, for the benefit of those who might like to vote but were not covered. 🙁 Perhaps a more positive option would be “none of these but this is my gripe” – but that is the job of a Convo, isn’t it? 🙂
Thanks for the thought.

I think phantom tradesmen could make the list.

Perhaps the worst consumer frights could be published in a special edition Witch? Mag.

Your farting witch would put the wind up anyone, let alone her ‘familiar’. However, I do have mixed feelings about the whole Halloween business, torn between the fun and spook element and the undesirable extortion of trick and treat and the lessons that this instills in our youngsters, especially at night, contacting strangers and disturbing the neighbourhood. There’s also the commercial element which like all big events is milked to the full.
However, you article seems to be more to do with consumer frights than wicked witches. Electrical goods that can catch fire and destroy a complete life. Food items which cause illness because of poor hygiene. Car safety compromised by dangerous faults. Imported fakes and the shops that knowingly sell them, especially where these deny the protection you think you are getting. Being stranded without transport at an airport, or, in my case, the channel tunnel for two days a few years ago. There are the usual rip offs and scams that we all face, but, to certain extent, caveat emptor applies and we have to be responsible and aware of what we do. I feel very sorry for those who have lost life savings through error.

And the more spectacular wizard’s trick, Vynor.
I remain convinced that a properly-funded and -resourced Trading Standards would help address many of the problems consumers face, working in cooperation with Which? of course (and others). However, since that initiative by government would only impact on 100% of the population it is unlikely to happen.

We need Which? to lobby government to push for an adequately funded Trading Standards service and for a product registration service that is effective in warning consumers of potentially dangerous products.

When we celebrate the 70th birthday of Which? (in ten years time) it would be good to look back on how these changes were achieved.

We have asked Which? to comment on this on a number of occasions. We need a compulsory registration system at point of purchase, and we need a public consumer body with teeth – Trading Standards re-invigorated. I think putting a compulsory registration system for appropriate products in Trading Standards’ hands, with the income that could generate, should help re-establish an essential service to consumers – all of us – that has been allowed to wither away.

@ldeitz, Lauren, are Which? considering these suggestions and will they respond at some point with their views and, if necessary, alternative ways forward?

I don’t care how it is achieved but putting the job in the hands of an organisation such as Trading Standards that is underperforming might mean slow progress. A separate focused organisation might be a better option, though obviously it would have to work closely with TS.

I think if we want to achieve a result we should be prepared to suggest ways of doing so, both to stimulate a positive discussion on better ways and to prompt a response from those who might be able to progress the issue.

Hi @malcolm-r, I’ll do some digging around but I thought this had been covered previously in our discussion on product safety and the need for a new national body. I may be wrong though, will take a look – sorry for the holding reply 🙂

@ldeitz, Lauren, thanks. I apologise if I have overlooked or, worse, forgotten a reply. I just don’t recall seeing a response from Which? to say they would lobby to see Trading Standards properly resourced and financed, nor that they were in favour of a compulsory registration scheme for appropriate products operated by TS, or being specific about an alternative way of dealing with it.

Personally, it would be good simply to see TS revived.