Throughout the public health crisis and resulting lockdown restrictions, consumeradvice.scot has received a significant increase in the number of cases relating to faulty goods and safety concerns.
Between April and July this year, we have seen faulty goods cases increase by nearly 110%.
Since March, Scottish consumers have witnessed a seismic change in how they interact with, and purchase from, retailers. With the implementation of nationwide lockdown restrictions, almost all transactions were carried out via telephone and online. Many companies and businesses struggled to accommodate this sudden shift in customer service provision and consumer interaction.
The surge in the number of complaints relating to faulty goods and ongoing disputes with suppliers/retailers has undoubtedly been driven by changes in customer service provision.
Whilst some faulty goods may not pose an immediate threat to the safety of consumers, we have received a significant number of enquiries relating to white goods and electrical items, including washing machines, tumble-dryers, fridge freezers and hot-tubs.
Issues relating to development faults within washing machines and tumble-dryers have been well documented over the last couple of years. Towards the end of 2019, over half a million Hotpoint and Indesit brand washing machines were recalled, accounting for an estimated 20% of all washing machines sold in the UK since 2014.
Recalls on this scale clearly demonstrate a potential for serious threat to the safety of households across the country. There were an estimated 79 cases where fires were caused by mechanical and filter issues from Hotpoint / Indesit brands.
However, it has not just been issues with large white or electrical goods that have been highlighted. Cases relating to faulty PPE, fake testing kits and protective equipment have put Scottish consumers at risk.
In addition to the safety concerns surrounding the rise in consumers facing issues with faulty products, many have been financially impacted as they continue to seek recourse for unsafe goods. With many Scots facing financial uncertainty with regards to their employment status and income, companies have been slow in rectifying issues and offering consumers recompense for faulty goods.
Unfortunately, many Scots remain unsure of their consumer rights. consumeradvice.scot has worked hard over the last 6 months, collaborating with national media outlets, to remind consumers of their rights and offer them bespoke advice and information which gets results.
Despite the pandemic and resulting lockdown, consumer rights remain the same and it is vital that Scottish consumers are made aware of their entitlements, particularly when facing issues with faulty goods.
As we move out of lockdown, we hope to see an improvement in provisions of service and after-sales service, with consumer rights understood, and adhered to, by suppliers. With lockdown restrictions easing, consumeradvice.scot will continue to champion consumer rights and work to protect the safety of households across Scotland.
If you are looking for advice or have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown, you can contact consumeradvice.scot on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
You can follow us on social media:
Facebook at www.facebook.com/advice.scot,
Instagram: @advice.scot, or get ahead by visiting our knowledge centre at www.consumeradvice.scot. You can also visit our dedicated coronavirus advice site: https://coronavirusadvice.scot/