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Second hand cars and mobile phones biggest consumer problems

2 September 2015

Second-hand cars from independent dealers and mobile phones are the most common issues consumers complained about in the last twelve months, Citizens Advice finds.

The national charity reveals that faulty vehicles were the biggest problem people had with second hand cars, making it the number one consumer gripe that the service helped with.

Substandard service, particularly poor signal, caused a quarter of the problems relating to mobile phones.

These figures are part of the latest Consumer Advice Trends report from Citizens Advice, which details the types of issues affecting consumers.

Top 5 issues raised to the Consumer Service between June 2014 and July 2015

Number of cases (July  2014 - June 2015)

Second-hand cars from independent dealers

50,072

Mobile phone contracts and handsets

21,019

Car servicing and repairs by an independent garage

10,847

General domestic building work

9,638

Upholstered furniture

9,031

Citizens Advice’s new report also identifies emerging problems in April to June 2015. The findings show more people have been seeking advice about lottery scams and parking enforcement issues, compared to the same period in the previous year.

The top three biggest increases in issues that the consumer helpline dealt with between April and June 2015 were:

  • Lottery scams - increased by 170 per cent to almost 1000 issues. Lottery scams are unsolicited mail that suggests the person has won a prize, which they have to send sums of money to receive.

  • Problems with parking and clamping  - cases increased by nearly 25 per cent. Previous research has shown that consumers are being hit by hefty charges for parking on private land.

  • Internet service providers - 20 per cent increase in problems. These have mainly been about poor service from providers and misleading sales tactics.

The consumer champion also reports that people are increasingly turning to its online services for advice. Citizens Advice consumer pages attracted nearly 4 million views between April and June 2015, which is twice the number of views they had in the same period in 2014.

Half a million people have sought Citizens Advice’s help for consumer issues between April and June 2015, according to new data from the charity. Local services dealt with 329,500 of these cases and the consumer helpline helped with 153,200 issues in this period.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Consumers should feel in the driving seat when things go wrong.

“Whether dealing with a faulty second-hand car or a problem with their mobile phone, it is important people have the information they need to stand up for their consumer rights.

“Mobile phone networks and internet service providers need to ensure that markets work for consumers. The second hand car industry must make sure that the goods it sells fit legal requirements, and to provide comprehensive information about the vehicle so consumers can make an informed decision.”

Citizens Advice offers the following advice for consumers:

  • The law states that goods should be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and sold ‘as described’. This applies to anything from handbags to used cars.

  • If goods do not meet these minimum standards, you have the right to ask for a solution. This could be a refund or a replacement.

  • You can also phone the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline, 03454 04 05 06, which can advise on your rights and also refer potential breaches of consumer law to Trading Standards.

  • If you have been sold a mobile phone on the basis of good coverage at home or at work, you can complain if this turns out not to be the case.

  • If you paid for the faulty item with a credit card and it cost between £100 and £30,000, then you may be able to get your money back from your credit card issuer by going through their complaints procedure.

  • If the product comes with a warranty or guarantee, then this may offer you even more protection if something goes wrong

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice in England and Wales helped with 5,279 cases of substandard service, out of 21,019 issues relating to mobile phone handsets and mobile phone service agreements between June 2014 to July 2015.
  2. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  3. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  4. To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  5. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  6. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  7. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.