Bad customer serviceShoppers in a rage over shoddy customer care

06 February 2006

Hard-sell marketing, missed appointments, and poor after-sales service have been named as the top gripes among British consumers in a new survey.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) poll found that businesses' shoddy treatment of their customers is causing 'service rage'.

The watchdog, which is largely funded by the Department for Trade and Industry, said that businesses risk losing money by alienating their customers.

The NCC surveyed over 2,000 consumers over an 18 month period. Firms in the financial services, telecoms and utility sectors were singled out for poor performance.

'Robotic' call centres, hard-sell marketing, missed appointments and bad after-sales services were among the top consumer complaints. Some companies were criticised by survey respondents for being 'sneaky and dishonest' while others were called 'incompetent and ineffectual'.

The NCC said its 'stupid company' report reveals a sorry picture of businesses over-promising and under-delivering, treating customers in a clinical and patronising way, and being incapable of getting the most basic things right. It said too often businesses focus on making a quick profit at the expense of the longer-term relationship.

Billions of pounds

It points to figures which show that 800,000 people complain to Trading Standards departments every year while around 75 per cent of shoppers have problems with purchased goods.

Report author and National Consumer Council Deputy Chief Executive, Philip Cullum said: 'We're seeing more and more 'service rage', with infuriated customers punishing companies for hopeless performance. The scale of company ineptitude must amount to many billions of pounds of lost profits. This isn't just bad news for companies, it damages our economy.'

The NCC research comes after Waitrose was named Britain's favourite store last week by Which?

We asked more than 2,000 shoppers to rate 42 high-street chains for overall satisfaction, as well as range of factors such as price, customer service and convenience.

The top three were Waitrose, its sister John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. Least liked were Co-op, Kwik Save and the electrical store Powerhouse.