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Scots share their regional consumer concerns – what are yours?

UK conusmers

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.

Scottish consumers

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.

Comments
Robin Bennett says:
11 January 2017

This site needs to be rigorously moderated to exclude party political comments, macro-economics and anything else which is off-topic. The very first comment is a case in point. Let’s keep to the consumer issues which are featured in Which?

aremgee says:
16 January 2017

Just over a year ago we needed to replace windows and went with a well known brand who were advertising huge discounts because it was there anniversary year. Of course, we had to make a decision quickly to ‘secure the price’ and pay a deposit but then someone else came from the firm and decided that there were reasons why they would need to do this that and the next thing and the costs kept rising and we felt trapped as we’d end up losing our deposit. The government should stop companies pressuring people to sign up right away and allow a decent period to decide and compare quotes. This second person told us some time later that the price we had originally given had been too low (this despite the fact that the salesman had phoned his manager for confirmation before he gave it) so we were left feeling that they were looking for excuses to get more money out of us.

I don’t think an “anniversary year” would lead to companies giving discounts. Sounds like a variant on the normal silly discounting sales procedure these nationals (or some) adopt to make you think you are getting a better deal. Best thing is to get a number of quotes (3 certainly) including a couple of local companies that don’t play with tricky pricing. There is no need to be pressured – the deal won’t go away and probably wasn’t a good deal anyway 🙁

Slightly off topic, but Ocado have just given me £10 off wine or chocolates for being a customer for 10 years. Nice touch. 🙂

I worry that companies too frequently offer alcohol as a prize or reward – not everyone can, should, or likes to, drink alcohol. That just leaves the chocolates which again are not to everyone’s liking. Why not just a generous gift voucher? [Or have they looked up your purchasing history and know exactly what hits the spot?]

It often happens at Christmas when you may receive a bottle of bubbly. Mine was well received and drunk responsibly. Therein lies the key? 🙂

If I ever receive a bottle of bubbly I hit the roof [with the cork] and consume it with gusto [but no mayonnaise]. But there are people whose religion or culture commands abstention from alcohol, and those whose medical condition makes it inadvisable. I am just suggesting – without getting all PC about it – that more consideration by companies is required before routinely offering alcohol as a loyalty bonus. I appreciate, of course, that because of the mark-up a bottle of wine has a high value in the eyes of the recipient but is a low cost promotion for the company – but that is possibly an unworthy reaction since we should never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Waitrose sent us a bottle of something bubbly when we had our first home delivery from them. Mind you, how they manage to deliver homes in those small vans is beyond me…

Sandy Henderson says:
17 January 2017

Re the replacement windows. Surely this is a breach of contract. Presumably the contract was signed prior to the deposit being paid. Sincerely hope that you didn’t go ahead. And, please, name the company.
Another wee tip. When intending to make a major outlay on house improvements, windows, doors, soffits, etc., arrange for the rep, to call on the last couple of days of the month. Haggle like H**l, they’ve usually to meet a monthly target. Good luck.

V Turnbull says:
17 January 2017

I get irritated by firms that are emailed and my request or whatever is ignored and they turn round and say that they did not get the email. If it does not arrive you get it back..
It also annoys me that firms do not want to believe or know that their product is faulty.

All banks should have to offer non contactless credit and debit cards. They are so insecure. A pickpocket can run up many purchases of £30 before a stop can be put on the card and they can now bump into you and skim your card details unless you keep your card in a special radio signal proof sleeve. Entering a PIN takes so little time that the whole concept of contactless cards is ridiculous.

Johnecon-Just to add to that ATM “Shimmers ” target chip based cards warning from Canada . I wont go into detail but a device is inserted into the slot and reads the data on the magnetic strip , yes they know they cannot use that to fabricate a card but can be used to clone a magnetic strip card . Why it is successful ? because some banks NEGLECT to check the CVV when authorising a transaction and have not correctly implemented the chip card standard known as EMV ( European -Mastercard – Visa ) .Mexico/Canada/ EU have been hit , not big just yet but growing . Advice COVER your PIN NUMBER when you enter it, stick to ATM,s that are PHYSICALLY installed in BANKS and don’t withdraw at weekends when bank closed –yes I know but its up to you.

HMRC should stop wasting taxpayers’ money on letters to people who have left an address. I have been in my current property for more than 9 years and still receive letters to tenants of the previous owners despite returning the mail clearly marked that the person is no longer resident. HMRC should write to the occupier asking for information and as soon as they are told that a person has left permanently they should stop writing to that person at that address. They could also use the Land Registry to identify current and previous property owners.

alfred heggie says:
28 January 2017

my complaint is i switched power suppliers in december last year from british gas to scottish power i asked for a card to pay every fortnight and after 9 phone calls to get the card i still havent recieved it everytime you phone up they take all your details give you a different price every time you phone keep you on the phone for over half an hour reading the legal details that they have to do then tell you card will be sent in two days and you still dont recieve it what can we do and does scottish power no this is happening as i am at the point of going to another supplier

Dump them. Switch. Do it now, Alfred.

100 % behind John , personal experience backs him up all the way -BAD NEWS ! Now with Co-op Energy ( Manchester ) Asked for card -2 weeks GIVEN card – have it on me now as I type.