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Which companies prompted people to contact the consumer watchdog most last year?

Pricewatch: Consumers called the watchdog helpline almost 19,000 times between January and June of 2023 - that works out at more than 100 calls a day

Last autumn, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) published a report which identified the companies most often referred to by the thousands of people who had made contact with it in the first six months of last year.

While the information is a few months old, it is worth revisiting in the context of the latest research from the consumer watchdog, published last week.

People called the CCPC helpline almost 19,000 times between January and June of 2023, which works out at an average of more than 100 calls a day. Faulty goods and services were top of the list of reasons people got in touch with the consumer watchdog, with vehicles, transport, telecommunications, home-building, holidays and travel, and clothing and footwear the sectors most frequently identified as problematic by callers.

The report also identified the companies most referred to by callers. While we can’t say definitively that the list makes up a rogues’ gallery, it is fair to assume that the people calling the watchdog to talk about eir or Ryanair or any of the others were not ringing to sing their praises.

The top 10 companies referenced by callers to the CCPC were:
  1. eir
  2. Ryanair
  3. Vodafone
  4. Harvey Norman
  5. Bord Gáis Energy
  6. Currys
  7. Sky
  8. DID Electrical
  9. Aer Lingus
  10. Electric Ireland

These 10 companies made up the guts of 20 per cent of all the contacts and – as keen readers will testify – many of them are not strangers to this page either.

The difficulty the CCPC has is that, generally speaking, it is not empowered to intervene on the part of an individual consumer with a complaint about a company – unlike this page, which has empowered itself to do just this.

While it has had its powers toughened up in recent times, a good deal of what it does is about providing information on the rights people have and the avenues down which they might travel to get redress.

One of those avenues is the Small Claims Court, to which just more than 3,700 people were referred. Whether or not those people actually took that step is unknown.

It is worth recalling what Gráinne Griffin, director of communications at the CCPC, said when the report was released.

“We receive thousands of contacts about faulty goods and services every year, and it’s vital that consumers know their rights. Your consumer rights don’t end after 30 days, or even after a year – products should last for a reasonable time, and even five years after purchase you may still be entitled to a repair, replacement or refund.

“We’re also seeing a lot of confusion around warranties and who is responsible if something goes wrong. It’s very simple: if there’s a problem with something you’ve bought, always take it up with the trader you bought it from, not the manufacturer or the delivery service, and remember that no warranty can take away your rights as a consumer.”

While that is sound advice for sure, the more recent report makes it clear that far too many people find themselves let down by the suppliers. While, at one level, we at Pricewatch are grateful for this, as it keeps us busy, we can’t help but despair sometimes at the lengths companies will go to to let down their paying customers.