Our latest research reveals some of the experiences Scottish people have in public and private markets. It’s clear consumer issues can be region specific – what problems do you come up against in your area?
We already know that for places such as London and the South-East there are particular struggles with rail-related problems – Southern rail being a particular headache for commuters at the moment. Earlier this year, we heard from guest author and Which? Conversation community member, Duncan, who highlighted the problem of access to public pay phones and telecoms issues in the UK’s more rural spots.
In our latest research, our Scottish Consumer Insights Report, we’ve found that many Scots are having problems in key industries, and need guidance, protection and representation in key areas.
When we compared Scottish levels of consumer worry to the rest of the UK, it seemed that Scottish consumers had greater levels of concern in general. The top concern for Scots was about public spending cuts (74%), with worries about daily essentials such as food, energy and fuel also higher up than the rest of the UK.
Interestingly, when we looked across banking, energy and telecoms, we found that Scots tend to stick with their providers rather than switch. Just a quarter (23%) have switched their energy supplier in the past five years, only 18% their current account, and 33% their home internet connection.
And yet, energy companies were rated as one of the least trusted industries, along with the financial sector. The water industry was most trusted sector in Scotland, with car dealers the most mistrusted.
Now, according to our research, many Scots aren’t acting on problems they encounter in many markets. For example, although 44% had issues with their home internet connection in the past two years, 46% complained at the time and a worrying 39% took no action as a result. And the most common reason (31%) for this was feeling it wasn’t worth the effort to complain.
When it came to public services, we found that many people didn’t see themselves as consumers in these areas, but they should. For those who’d experienced problems in public services (such as GPs, or dentists), only 18% complained at the time, while 39% didn’t take action at all. Interestingly, 40% of people who took no action felt nothing would be done if they did.
Tackling Scotland’s problems
Recently, the Scottish Government published a long-awaited plan outlining how it will use its new consumer powers to help these consumers out. It puts some very useful commitments and deadlines on paper to give stakeholders and consumers a little more certainty about how they will be helped in future.
The Scottish Government agrees that more can be done to improve coordination in consumer landscape for Scottish people, whether it’s at Scottish level or at UK level. It also believes that the consumer landscape would be better served by more coordination to the various advice services available to Scottish people and a better understanding of how markets work in Scotland. We agree with the approach.
What about you?
Can you relate to any of our Scottish research findings?
Or do you have any particular consumer gripes that are local to you? Maybe you find transport in your area particularly problematic, or your telecoms services aren’t up to scratch – let us know what bothers you.