Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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One in three consumers claims their rights are ignored

One in three consumers claims their rights are ignored

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 11 September 2009

Embargoed until 14 Sep 2009 - 00:01

One in three people feel their consumer rights have been ignored and more than a quarter of people (28%) are more likely to complain about goods they bought during the economic downturn according to a new survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Department for Business, is released on the same day as Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan launches a “Know Your Consumer Rights” campaign - a major new drive to support consumers and help them understand their rights.

Highlights from the survey of 2,000 people include:

· People aged 35 plus feel they are more likely to be overcharged or misled shopping on the high street than on the internet. But those aged between 16 and 34 said the internet posed a greater risk than the high street

· 31 per cent of women claim they are more likely to complain about goods during the economic downturn compared to 25 per cent of men

· 58 per cent of consumers claim they have complained to a store about goods, asked for a refund or an exchange between one and three times in the past three years

· One third of consumers claim they have complained to a store about goods, asked for a refund or asked for an exchange more than three times in the past three years

Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan said:

“Robust protections are in place to support consumers. But we want to see a dramatic improvement in awareness of those protections and rights.

“Knowledgeable, confident consumers are much more likely to get a fair deal, save money and get the right result when things go wrong. This is especially important during the current economic climate, when every penny is even more precious than usual.”

Vivienne Dews, Executive Director at the Office of Fair Trading said:

“When people are aware of their rights and businesses respect their obligations, consumers can shop with confidence, which is good for them and good for business.”

The Department for Business is working with Trading Standards Institute, Consumer Direct, the Office of Fair Trading and Consumer Focus to highlight the campaign which will run until 2010.

The ‘Know Your Consumer Rights’ campaign is focussed on ensuring consumers know three key legal rights:

· Goods must fit the description given

· Be of satisfactory quality

· Be suitable for purpose

And important information for consumers to know:

· If goods are faulty it is the retailers responsibility not the manufacturers

· If a trader visits your home you have a cooling off period of seven days during which an order can be cancelled without any reason and a full refund made

· If you buy goods off the internet, in most cases, you have a cooling-off period during which an order can be cancelled without any reason and a full refund made

Consumers are encouraged to contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit the website www.consumerdirect.gov.uk for further information.

Notes to Editors

1. The ‘Know Your Consumer Rights’ campaign kicks off Trading Standard’ s National Consumer Week. The campaign will run until 2010 with future activity planned around the New Year. It was developed in response to the Government’s consumer law review which highlighted gaps in knowledge of consumer rights. The campaign was one of the actions referred to in the Government’s recent consumer white paper “A better deal for consumers – Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future.”

2. Retail partners who have joined the “Know Your Consumer Rights” campaign include: Asda, figleaves.com, B & Q, Wickes, WhataFind.com and ASOS.com

3. The survey was conducted by BMRB and questioned 2,009 people in England, Scotland and Wales. Further information is available at www.bis.gov.uk

Questions included:

Have you ever felt a member of staff working in a shop or for an online store has attempted to dismiss your claims or ignore your consumer rights when you’ve tried to return goods or get a refund?Has trying to save money in the recession made you more or less likely to complain about the goods that you’ve purchased?Do you feel you are more likely to be overcharged or misled shopping on the internet or on the high street?Over the last three years, how many times have you complained to a store about goods you have bought, asked for a refund and/or asked for an exchange

4. Best practice for business is provided through the Businesslink website www.businesslink.gov.uk/consumersrights to help educate and train their staff on key consumer rights.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

Contacts:

BIS Press Office
NDS.BIS@coi.gsi.gov.uk

Helen Cook
Phone: 020 7215 6963
Helen.Cook@bis.gsi.gov.uk

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