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Online shopping issues dominate complaints

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The number of complaints about problems with online shopping have more than doubled over the past year, new data from Resolver has revealed.

Resolver is a free complaints service which helps people lodge complaints with retailers and providers, as well as keep track of how those complaints are progressing.

What we are complaining about

And its annual complaints data for 2020/21 revealed that online shopping dominated complaints levels, with 267,141 complaints registered through the site. That’s up by a whopping 138% on previous years, driven by our move to do more of our shopping on the internet as a result of the pandemic.

Despite the various lockdowns, there was only a small dip in complaints about shopping on the high street too, down by 8% to 65,501 cases.

Perhaps unsurprisingly after the last year, package delivery complaints were the second most complained about sector, accounting for 91,906 complaints, though this was only up by 1.4% on last year. 

Travel was also an area likely to drive us mad, with complaints about the travel and holiday industry topping 110,000 complaints. More than half of those were about the big online travel marketplaces, with the difficulties in getting refunds a common issue.

While financial services continue to attract large numbers of complaints, there have actually fallen substantially on the previous year. There were more than 52,000 complaints about loans or finance for example, though this is down by 51% on 2019/20, while complaints about banking dropped 23% to 40,417.

However, the sector that saw the biggest rise in complaints was online dating. A year ago it accounted for only 1,029 complaints sent through Resolver, but that rocketed by more than 400% to 5,484 this year. 

UK Finance has previously warned of a large spike in romance-related scams.

Action on firms that ‘don’t play ball’

Alex Neill, chief executive of Resolver, said that it was notable that the issues people have sought help with have changed along with our behaviour, and pointed out that people had showed “remarkable patience and restraint” through the challenges of lockdown.

He added: “Only immediate problems like refunds for holidays and flights drove the initial surge in complaints. But as the year wore on, we saw patience turn to frustration across numerous sectors. Hundreds of thousands of people began to struggle as some businesses stopped playing by the rules and started making it much harder to contact them to complain.

“Customer service and consumer rights are non-negotiable, so in the year ahead, we want to see more action taken against businesses and sectors that don’t play ball.”

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has previously reported receiving 148,000 complaints about the conduct of businesses over the last year on Covid-related issues alone.

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