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One in three consumers feel rights are ‘ignored’

58% complained, asked for refund or exchanged item

Scales of justice

One in three people feel their consumer rights have been ignored, according to a new government survey into consumer sentiment which helps to kickstart this year’s National Consumer Week (14-18 September).

The survey, conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that 58% of consumers have complained to a retailer, asked for a refund or exchanged an item in the past three years.

More than a quarter of people are also more likely to complain about goods they bought during the economic downturn – but a separate study from the Trading Standards Institute revealed that 42% of businesses have failed to tell customers how to complain.

Consumer rights

The government survey of 2,000 people found that older consumers felt they were more likely to be overcharged or misled on the high street than online. But consumers under 35 felt the internet was riskier. 

The institute, meanwhile, found that more than half of businesses surveyed do not make new staff aware of consumer rights when they join – and a quarter of the 102 businesses surveyed admitted to never updating employees on consumer law.

Impartial consumer advice

Whether you are shopping online or on the high street, Which? has the UK’s largest customer satisfaction survey of top shops; our biggest ever covers 51 retailers.

If you think your consumer rights have been infringed, Which? Legal Service offers a year’s unlimited legal advice on key topics for £51.

Know Your Rights campaign

Consumer minister Kevin Brennan is using the backdrop of National Consumer Week to launch a government campaign called Know Your Rights – a new drive to support consumers and help them to better understand their rights.

The campaign emphasises that goods for sale must fit their description, be of satisfactory quality and suitable for purpose and is supported by retail partners including Asda, B&Q and Wickes.

The government portal for consumer complaints is Consumer Direct. Consumer rights advice from the government has also been collated at Business Link’s consumer rights site.

National Consumer Week, now 21 years old, runs from 14 to 18 September and will include events in shopping and community centres across the UK.

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