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Trade disappoints consumers

Home improvements spark most complaints of all

Home improvement and repair work causes the most heartache for consumers of any product or service, figures released today show.

The government-run consumer advice service Consumer Direct says that over 9 per cent of all complaints it received last year came from people unhappy with the work of a trader employed at their home, such as a builder or plumber.

Used cars came a close second in the league of consumer woes, with over 8 per cent of all callers unhappy in some way with their vehicles. The top ten most complained about goods or services also included furniture, phone services and audio-visual equipment.

Consumer Direct refused to name companies

Which? recently asked the consumer advice service to name and shame the ten companies that spark the most complaints, under freedom of information rules, but it refused. Consumer Direct said the information could damage a company’s reputation.

Consumer Direct spokesperson Carol Brady advises checking out a trader with the advice line before employing them. She said: ‘Calling Consumer Direct for advice before employing a tradesperson can help minimise the risk of things going wrong. What’s more our specially trained advisers are on hand if you do encounter problems.’

As well as publishing the types of companies that spark complaints, Consumer Direct has released figures on the types of complaints. These figures show that over 42 per cent of all calls related to the purchase of defective goods.

Service not reached all Britain yet

Poor service accounted for nearly 18 per cent of complaints, while misleading claims or hidden extras were involved in 8 per cent.

Not everyone in Britain can contact Consumer Direct yet, as it hasn’t rolled out its service completely. Places not covered yet include the West Midlands, the North-West and the North-East. Consumer Direct these services will be launched this spring.

In the areas already covered, consumers can contact Consumer Direct through its website or by phone on 08454 040506. This costs 4p a minute from BT landline. The advice is free.

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