New stats suggest that not nearly enough of us are complaining when we have reason to. Our guest author, Oscar Webb, joins us to ask: what’s stopping you from making a complaint?
According to the Ombudsman Services’ annual Consumer Action Monitor report, UK consumers experienced 173 million issues with products and services last year.
Yet only a quarter of these were raised as complaints. So what’s stopping you from making a complaint about a poor product or a shoddy service?
Despite problems with products and services, the report has also highlighted that consumers ignored around 78 million issues last year, an increase of three million from 2016.
And that may well be because only 29% believed they could get a problem resolved by raising it, with a further 20% saying that complaining doesn’t work because they’d done so previously and achieved nothing.
While businesses may think they’re getting let off the hook, this unwillingness to complain is actually proving more detrimental – with people voting with their feet rather than formally registering a complaint.
According to the same report, 40% of shoppers walked out of a shop or gave up on an online purchase before buying last year, up from 29% the previous year. And another 30% chose to switch providers or spend less because of disappointing experiences, while 33% said they’d stopped buying from a specific brand.
Making a complaint
So why aren’t people complaining? Two scenarios where you fail to complain when something isn’t right spring to my mind: the first involves large, impersonal, organisations – phone companies, train operators, and the like – where lodging a complaint takes ages over the phone and just doesn’t seem worth the effort.
The second is a bit trickier to put your finger on, but it usually involves small businesses – such as family-owned shops or restaurants – where making a complaint is simple and quick, but you feel you may personally offend the person you make it to. In a very British way, it can just feel too awkward to complain in these situations.
Wanting to go against type, I sent back a drink while eating out recently. The barman came over to our table – the offending drink in hand – and, in quite a challenging way, asked what was wrong with it and how I would make it better.
It tasted awful, but I was stumped for words, so awkwardly backed down, and mumbled something about it being fine. That taught me to complain!
Do you complain about problem products or shoddy services? Have you ever been challenged when you’ve made a complaint? What puts you off of making a complaint?
This is a guest contribution by Oscar Webb. All views are Oscar’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.