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Driven to distraction: Car purchases top customer complaints poll

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28th Jan 2010
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The top 10 customer complaints are revealed by advice service Consumer Direct, while Which? unveils the best supermarkets for customer satisfaction.

While customer complaints dropped 3% last year compared with 2008, gripes about second-hand cars bought from independent traders topped the angry list for a fourth year running.

Advice service Consumer Direct said that it received 50,790 calls from unhappy consumers in 2009, with the majority of grievances involving in-store purchases. A further 13% of complaints were generated by internet-based transactions and 10% as a result of telephone-based sales.

Televisions and mobile phone service agreements were second and third in the league table, after having switched places compared with last year’s poll. The number of complaints relating to the former grew 9% to 22,184, while gripes about the latter fell 29% to 22,172.

Complaints about laptop computers increased the most, however, up 42% on the previous year, while unhappiness over home personal computers fell. The former devices took fifth place, while mobile phone hardware came in fourth.

Other grievances in the top 10 related to car repairs and servicing from independent garages; second-hand cars from franchise dealers; upholstered furniture; women’s clothing and landline telephone services.

Supermarket sweep

In other news, meanwhile, discount chains Aldi and Lidl beat off competition from the traditional big four supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons – by taking third place in customer satisfaction terms in a survey undertaken by Which? While both were able to match the big four in product quality, including the calibre of fresh fruit and vegetables, they had the advantage of being able to beat them on price.

Peter Vicary-Smith, the organisation’s chief executive, said: "The success of some budget supermarkets in our survey proves that savvy shoppers can make the most of their money without compromising on quality."

Upmarket chain Waitrose ranked highest for a second year running, however, with a score of 79% and five out of five stars for product quality and customer service, while Marks & Spencer came in second – in a bit of a sting in the tale, however, both were marked down for their high prices.

But discount retailer Netto was bottom of the pile, with a rating of only 41%. One of the 13,000 customers questioned in the poll likened the shopping experience in the store to "shopping in a junk shop".

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