Problems returning goods accounted for more than 30% of complaints received by the newly formed Retail Ombudsman in its first six weeks, the body has revealed.
Issues around refunds and exchanges made up the majority (31.8%) of the 1,835 issues raised since it started taking complaints on January 2, 2015, followed by delivery (20.8%) and faulty goods (16.5%).
The referee service also logged grievances related to pricing and product descriptions (11.3%) and standards of service (2.6%).
However, one in six (16.9%) of all complaints were thrown out by the ombudsman. Chief ombudsman Dean Dunham said many complaints were based on an inaccurate grasp of consumer law.
“This results in the customer wasting their time engaging in a flurry of emails or telephone calls to the retailer,” he explained. “And the retailer tying up staff and money dealing with bogus complaints rather than diverting their resources to marketing and selling their products. This can have a significant impact on their profit margins.”
Dunham is also advising retailers to brush up on the new Consumer Contract Regulations to reduce the number of complaints concerning returned goods.
“We have seen a number of cases where retailers are still quoting the Distant Selling Regulations and therefore the seven day return rule. This has now been replaced by the Consumer Contract Regulations, under which consumers who buy online or from anywhere outside of a retailer’s shop premises can return goods with no questions asked up to 14 days from the date of delivery.”
Following its first operating weekend, the ombudsman told Drapers it had logged more than 300 issues, putting it on track to meet its prediction of 100,000 cases this year. Around 3,422 retailers are currently signed up to the scheme. A full list of members is yet to be released.
Dean Dunham’s Talking Business column for Drapers can be found here.