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Would you abandon a brand over a bad experience?

Angry customer

I think most of us probably accept that we will experience discontentment with a service or product at some point. But just how many of us are happy to forgive and forget?

It will come as no surprise to many that it was the retail sector which received the biggest share of complaints in the latest multi-sector Consumer Action Monitor survey by Ombudsman Services.

According to the report, retail sector complaints had a 24% share of the total complaints and the cost of poor service to the sector weighed in at a significant £10.05 billion last year.

The report found most consumers are often happy to forgive and forget as long as their complaint is resolved satisfactorily. But, if a complaint is handled poorly many aren’t afraid to retract their custom, with 19% taking their business elsewhere and 15% making a conscious decision to spend less with a brand.

Poor service

A bad experience can be disheartening, stressful and inconvenient. The company is already facing the weight of an unhappy customer, so the complaints and resolution process should be vital to turning things around.

But sometimes even this won’t be enough.

I had a negative experience with a large retailer in the weeks running up to Christmas the year before last, which has since permanently damaged my relationship with them.

I ordered two sets of four champagne glasses, which were to be a present for my parents. Ordered and confirmed in early December and with a delivery date selected for December 22nd. I was shocked when half of the order was cancelled on the same day I was due to pick it up. That’s right, the same day!

This left me feeling dejected, let down and – above all – incredibly stressed running around physical stores trying to see if there were still any on display. We are a family of eight at Christmas and special occasions, so four flutes instead of eight just didn’t quite cut the mustard!

I was refunded the full amount for the missing part of the order as was proper, and sent a £10 e-gift card as an apology for them being unable to fulfil my order at the eleventh hour.

At the time, I didn’t actually feel the need to complain further; the retailer had refunded me as they were in breach of contract and extended the added olive branch of a gift card. But the experience left me distrustful.

Complaints handling

I still shop with the retailer, but will never again do this online around Christmas for fear of being let down in the same way.

How a company manages its complaints and decides to resolve the issue might impact whether the consumer chooses to remain loyal, spends less or takes their business elsewhere.

If your complaint was handled well, would you think more highly of the business? Would you continue spending money with the company in the same way? What if your complaint was handled poorly – would you take your business elsewhere?

Which of these statements best describes how you would react if your complaint wasn't dealt with well:

I would take my business elsewhere – they let me down (81%, 1,356 Votes)

I would make a conscious decision to spend less with the business – I can’t rely on them in the same way (17%, 277 Votes)

I would forgive and forget – everyone makes mistakes from time to time (2%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,669

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ordered bed bug vac from Easylife on 29th jan 2017 after seeing in catalogue delivered with Daily Mirror on Sat 28th. Paid by card said it would be delivered in 5 days , did not arrive so rang them on the Monday and was told the picking machine was playing up . Next Monday still not here Moday 13 feb still not here ,was told it had not been despatched yet. March 8th still not here looks like Small Courts C laim? EASYLIFE you must be joking

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Distance sellers usually have twenty-eight days in which to deliver and they have failed. It would be quicker and cheaper to speak to your card issuer who should cancel the payment if the cost was over £100 [S.75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974]. They might be willing to do so anyway but would not be legally obliged to if the cost was under £100 . Or you could instruct the seller [in writing] to cancel the sale for breach of contract and demand repayment. If that did not work then you would probably have to go through the court claim process in order to get your money back. That will incur trouble and expense but you can ask for costs if you are successful.

Customers have redress against the newspaper if an advertiser defaults but that does not apply in the case of catalogue inserts; another weakening of consumer protection brought about by changes in retailing practices.

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The Consumer Rights Act takes precedence over conflicting contract conditions and terms. You have 14 days to cancel the contract or return the goods if bought at distance. The 14 day period starts the day after the consumer, or someone selected by the consumer, receives the goods.

You (the seller)should refund all monies received. This includes the outbound delivery cost, unless the consumer chose to have the goods delivered by more expensive means than the cheapest standard delivery option offered. If so, you do not have to refund the full outbound delivery cost, but only the cost of the standard delivery option which the consumer could have chosen. You must repay the consumer without undue delay, and no later than 14 days starting the day after you receive the goods back. If the consumer provides proof of return before you receive the goods back, you should refund without undue delay and no later than 14 days starting the day after you receive that proof.

Since Brian has still [8 March] not received the order he placed on 29 January 2017 then there is a clear breach of contract and he is entitled to get his money back immediately. Whether or not the product was in stock or whether the fulfilment process has broken down are not relevant. I would hope he will not have to make a court claim. It would be worth checking the position with his credit card issuer first just in case payment has not yet been taken but that would be unlikely in my opinion. Getting the card company to cancel the payment and refund it to his account would be the cleanest way of resolving this – except he still wants a bed vacuum cleaner and I note that Robert Dyas sell the same model as Easylife at the same price but in a different colour. There are also other options .

Help. I’m having issues with virgin mobile and my contract. Took out IPhone 6 on 2 years contract July 2015. Phone screen now flickers and no longer able to use phone. Took phpbdvto Apple Store in Bluewater. Advises it’s a manufacturer issue and would cost £190 to fix as phone over 1 year warranty. Virgin refuses to fix phone as states phone on 1 year warantee as well. What rights do I have as I’m still paying for phone on contract until July 2017, but cannot use phone as it not fit for purpose. Can I get anywhere with this?

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My Citizen eco drive watch stopped charging after 18 months, it’s still under guarantee. It needs a new seal.
Citizen repairs dept have had the watch for 8 weeks, they say there has been a delay in getting the part from Japan.
They cannot tell me when the watch will be repaired and returned to me.
I think that this delay in repairing the watch is unreasonable and would like a replacement.

The Consumer Rights Act says that a repair should be done in a reasonable time and without unreasonable inconvenience. A fault gives you the option to choose a repair or a replacement; if you choose a repair that fails you can then opt for a replacement. in your case I’d suggest you approach your retailer with this information and either get a replacement or at least a loan watch until yours is returned.

I have a broken Fridge Freezer that is unrepairable due to a “blown wet wall”. The fridge freezer is only 2.5 years old so was looking to claim for a replacement. The fridge freezer was supplied with the kitchen when I bought a new house, so cannot go back to the retailer as i’m assuming the house builder won’t be classed as a retailer. Where do I stand with this?

I suggest contacting the manufacturer of the fridge-freezer to see if they will offer any goodwill such as a significant discount on a new appliance. They have no legal requirement to help but you might be lucky.

Your legal rights lie with whoever you purchase goods from, even if they subcontracted work like providing and installing an appliance.

Here is another Conversation where there is discussion of consumers’ rights over faulty products: https://conversation.which.co.uk/shopping/return-faulty-broken-product-free-repair-replacement/

Phil, I had exactly the same problem with a Hotpoint fridge freezer, just 3 years old. I paid them to look at at on a no-fix no-pay basis. They offered me a new f/f at a “discount” but a very unattractive offer. I emailed them that under the Sale of Goods Act there is a requirement that a product should be “durable”, and mine clearly was not, as it should have lasted longer than 3 years. Whether their next response was affected by this or not, they rang to offer a new f/f/, take the old one away and I negotiated a 2 years guarantee.

Slightly off-topic but what is the nature of this increasingly common fault? I could see that leakage of damp air through a crack would cause an ice build-up on the refrigerating plate or coils behind. Alternatively, there could be a leakage of refrigerant in an inaccessible place. In either case it is very unlikely to be misuse, unlike an older appliance where users can cause damage by trying to remove built-up ice.

How common is it? You see if we have evidence that it is a relatively widespread fault then we have some grounds to pursue the SoGA / CRA durability requirement.

I don’t know, Malcolm, but I have heard of a few cases recently. As we have discussed previously, evidence of frequent problems should be taken into account when handling claims under our statutory rights. I’m also interested in what happens when the fault occurs.

Just tried to retun a faulty mobile charger to EE who tell me i can’t return to their store because they are a franchise of EE…….they refused our request, anyone know where we stand legally.

Your consumer rights lie against the retailer from whom you bought the charger. Without knowing more about how and when you purchased the charger it is impossible to give more definitive advice but if you follow the links at the foot of the Introduction to this Conversation you might find some useful guidance.

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Anyone can make a mistake but it’s the correction procedure afterwards that makes the difference. If an effort is made and the situation rectified, or compensated adequately, then I’ll return – even allowing for a few more mishaps. It’s the attitude and/or constant blunders that infuriate me the most (take note Virgin Media). Once I’m put on that trail it means I’m off, without any qualms! There are plenty more suppliers searching for business.

caesar modiro says:
6 April 2017

thanks for this it was good my name is caesar

Joe McElroy says:
25 April 2017

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Please before you purchase anything, submit to the supplier your own legal Terms & Conditions i.e.: prepare your own “Purchasing Ledger order form” and then get it personally signed in black ink by the owner of the goods or service to be purchased.

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I doubt you would get anyone to sign it, Edward. What we should have is a “Standard Terms and Conditions” developed independently ( there are standard contracts in the commercial world to avoid having to go through every new one with a fine toothcomb) that all retailers use, with any exceptions highlighted.

Pat says:
26 May 2017

We bought a static caravan in 2015..we purchased it as a 2010 wilouhby aspen model.we found out in march this year it’s only a 2009 wilouhby aspen.and also the chassis on the caravan is completely different to the one on our sales agreement aswel as the wrong year on our sales agreement .we believe we’ve been missold.the caravan we’ve recieved is not the one we’ve signed for on the Sales agreement .thanks

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Pat says:
26 May 2017


I know a merchandiser doesn’t have to sell you an item and therefore doesn’t have to sell you it at the lower price mistakenly stated, but the larger stores usually will when you point it out, though staff will sometimes argue it was ‘obviously’ a mistake. However, I go back to the days when shop managers I knew were kept on their toes by knowing that Council Inspectors would come round checking a variety of things, inc. conformity with the Sale of Goods Act, under which, apparently, they could be given a penalty for having goods labelled at a price lower than that for which it was actually on sale at. Unfortunately (once again govt favouring business over customer), these inspectors aren’t around any more but, if it was an offence then, isn’t it an offence now?

Deliberate misrepresentation is an offence, Fitzmichael, so if, after having a pricing error pointed out, the retailer fails to correct it and maintains the item on offer at a price they will not accept that is a false sale. In my experience some of the big retailers will not honour a wrong price in the customer’s favour; they tend to know the law and argue that an offer to treat is not binding. The major supermarkets will generally accept the lower price displayed on the shelf or product even if the barcode says otherwise.