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Rise in consumer complaints
27 November 2018

Rise in consumer complaints

2018 has seen a rise in complaints to the Commerce Commission alleging consumer law breaches.

Complaints to the Commerce Commission alleging breaches of consumer law rose to 7452 this year, up from 7270 in 2017.

Telcos again topped the list of the most complained about traders, followed by motor vehicle dealers and domestic appliance retailers.

Total complaints about telcos dropped to 584 from 603 in 2017. However, complaints about motor vehicle traders rose nearly 17%.

In the year to June, the commission received 420 complaints about car dealers. About 80% of complaints involved sales of used cars. In more than 50% of cases, complainants alleged the dealer provided misleading information about the car in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

Complaints about supermarkets rose from 150 in 2017 to 163 this year. Misleading pricing practices dominated complaints.

A further 146 complaints related to claims made for grocery items, including claims touting a product’s “green” credentials or “health” benefits.

Online retailers also featured prominently. A total of 1640 complaints were about online sales.

A significant number (359) involved online ticket resellers. Most were about ticket reseller Viagogo, which is being taken to court by the commission for alleged breaches of the Fair Trading Act.

Unclear pricing and hidden fees have resulted in Viagogo customers paying huge mark-ups on tickets. Others have been turned away from events after being sold fake tickets.

Complaints about potential breaches of credit law also increased. Eighty-four complaints alleged irresponsible lending practices, up from 70 in 2017.

Debt collection practices attracted 125 complaints and credit fees 54. The commission also received 65 complaints about lenders’ failure to provide required information to customers about their loan.

Problems raised in complaints to the commission mirror those we receive and show lack of compliance with fair trading and credit laws remains a significant issue for consumers.

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