/ Shopping

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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Brian Adam says:
8 March 2017

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

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]


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.


I checked out Easylife Group ltd.-London -Brian and , according to their publicised conditions of sale the following would apply to you. -Contract-between Easylife +You -the consumer , will only be deemed to BEGIN once the order has been DISPATCHED–orders by card will only be charged once stock availability has been confirmed -the goods are READY to be dispatched .If for ANY reason the goods cannot be supplied then payment will be refunded in FULL -Refunds up to 14 days -Consumer Rights Act -2015 . It is obvious they have not carried out the initial conditions of contract you have the immediate right of cancellation and a full refund . They have broken the first section of the contract by beginning it while not in a position to do so (not ready to be dispatched ) – they have broken the second part by charging you BEFORE your order has BEEN dispatched – Verdict- Under English Contract Law -they FAILED , there is NO WAY you could lose in Small Claims Court and this is going by their OWN published contract.


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 .

Shauna says:
8 March 2017

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?


Shauna Virgin Mobile should supply you with a reconditioned phone as a replacement under the Sale of Goods Act , they are in breach of this termed a “Material Breach ” if they wont repair it or give you a replacement. The phone and the contract are two different things so you have to get out of both , if they admit it you can get out without penalty . BEWARE all customers who take out a phone contract with Virgin Mobile 1000,s of people are in the same boat – your iPhone gives a two year contract -APPLE only give you a one year warranty . So if your phone breaks down after one year but before the two year contract is up your stuck on a contract you cant get out of with a phone that doesn’t work -slick+sly marketing ! You want the full story then click on : http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-2057937/Your-rights-mobile-phone-breaks-contract.htm

Polly says:
10 March 2017

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.