CCPC publishes consumer helpline statistics for H1 2021

August 27, 2021

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has today published its Consumer Contacts Report H1 2021, which details key statistics and insights from over 19,800 consumers who contacted its consumer helpline from January-June 2021. The report highlights changes in the sectors where consumers experienced difficulties in the first half of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020.

Faulty goods & services queries rise by 15%

The report shows issues relating to faulty goods and services topped the list of consumer queries in the first half of 2021 (3,175 queries) representing a 15% increase compared with 2,760 in H1 2020. Examples of the types of queries included; whether consumers were entitled to seek a refund, or if they had to accept a repair or replacement. Others were unsure as to whether the manufacturer or the retailer was responsible for resolving the problem of their faulty item. Additionally, some consumers were unhappy with the solution being offered to them and wanted to know their rights and entitlements.

Over 70% (2,241) of consumers who contacted the CCPC about faulty goods were referred to the Small Claims procedure as a possible next step to address their issue. The CCPC’s faulty goods web page attracted over 15,000 visits, while over 17,000 visitors sought more information online about how to make a complaint.

A marked change in consumer issues by sector is also noted, with a 63% rise in queries relating to Audio-Visual (AV) & Electronic goods, compared with a 71% fall in queries relating to Travel, Transport and Holidays for the same period. AV & Electronic goods were the number one sector overall (842 contacts) for contacts referred to the Small Claims procedure.

Rise in consumers wanting to know their rights when buying online

Amongst those who contacted the CCPC from January-June 2021, almost 1 in 2 (47%) bought online, which was consistent with 2020. The report also shows a 16% increase in the number of consumers wanting to know their rights when buying online (1,356), making it the second most popular reason (after faulty goods) for consumers to contact the CCPC in the first six months of the year. During this time, there were over 17,000 visits to the CCPC’s buying online website pages, with over 36,500 visits from those seeking information specifically about Brexit and consumer rights.

Examples of the types of consumer queries the CCPC helpline received included; whether a consumer is entitled to a refund following significant delivery delays, and those who had signed up for a service online, changed their mind and are now being charged a cancellation fee. Other common queries related to consumers who had bought online only to find out after they paid that additional costs such as VAT were not included.

Majority of queries relate to purchases from Irish-based businesses

The report also highlighted how the majority (86%) of consumers who contacted the CCPC had shopped from Irish-based businesses, with a further 4% shopping from businesses based elsewhere within the EU. Amongst those that bought from an Irish-based businesses, more than half (51%) bought in-store, followed by a further 2 in 5 (39%) who shopped online. Almost 1 in 10 (8%) consumer queries to the CCPC related to purchases made from UK-based businesses, which represents a 3% increase on H1 2020.

Mortgage queries rise as online mortgage tools attract highest web visitors

The report also shows that almost 1 in 4 (23%) of personal finance queries in H1 2021 related to mortgages or equity release. This represents a 24% increase on the same period in 2020. The CCPC’s online mortgage information and Mortgage Money Tools also attracted the highest level of visitor numbers. Ccpc.ie attracted over 180,000 visits to its mortgage calculator and comparison tools, while over 56,000 visits to the CCPC’s ‘Step-by-step Guide to Buying a Home’ page were also recorded in H1 2021.

Speaking about the report, Gráinne Griffin, Director of Communications with the CCPC, said:

“Insights detailed in this report and, indeed, from our consumer helpline over the past 12 months suggest that consumers have shifted a lot of their buying online. The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how and where many of us shop. Even as restrictions have eased, our insights suggest that a mixed approach between in-store and online shopping is set to continue.

As we move into the second half of the year and toward a traditionally busy shopping period, the CCPC is reminding consumers of the importance of knowing their rights, particularly when shopping online from Irish, EU or other international websites. Whether you’re facing issues with faulty goods, securing a refund, or delivery delays, it’s only by knowing your rights can you assert your consumer power!

The CCPC supports and empowers consumers to know and use their rights by providing free, independent information on what you are entitled to and what to do if something goes wrong. For more information on your rights visit ccpc.ie or, if you would like to speak to a consumer rights expert, call the CCPC’s dedicated consumer helpline on 01 402 5555. ”

Read the full CCPC Consumer Contacts Report H1 2021 here.

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