Manchester residents can get their consumer questions answered by Which? experts at the organisation’s live ‘Get Answers’ billboard in Exchange Square, Manchester today (31st May)
As new research from the consumer champion finds millions of people are at risk of getting stung by huge financial losses due to confusion about builder disputes, holiday refunds and other everyday consumer questions, four Which? Experts will be on hand in Manchester’s Exchange Square today (31st May) to answer the public’s questions about travel, home, gardening, money saving tips and more, in an innovative ‘living billboard’ installation.
The consumer champion surveyed 2,500 members of the public to establish how confident they would be in knowing how to respond to some of the UK’s biggest consumer questions.
The questions, chosen based on analysis of traffic to the Which? website, include how to go about obtaining a refund or replacement for a faulty product, how to get compensation for a flight delay, and what steps you should take if you think your energy smart meter is faulty.
Potholes are a perennial problem for motorists, with a report from Kwikfit last year estimating that total cost of pothole damage to British drivers was a shocking £1.7 billion in 2021, with damage caused costing drivers £132 per incident, on average. The Federation of Small Businesses reports that almost thirty-four thousand pothole and highway defect complaints were received by Greater Manchester councils between 2021 to 2022, but worryingly, almost half of consumers Which? surveyed in the North West area (49%) reported being not confident that they would know how to claim for pothole damage.
Scams also pose a significant risk, with more than £1.2 billion lost to financial fraud last year according to UK Finance. Among the highest value types of fraud reported were investment scams, which accounted for over ten thousand cases, at an average of over £11,300 each. Yet almost half of respondents in the North West (47%) reported they were not confident that they would know how to get their money back after falling victim to a scam. At present, outcomes for scam victims can vary significantly, with long-promised plans to make all banks and payment providers reimburse scam victims in all but exceptional cases yet to become law.
Similarly, over 350 million faster bank payments are made every month, but more than four in 10 (45 %) survey respondents in the region expressed a lack of confidence that they would know what to do if they accidentally sent money to the wrong account. While the confirmation of payee service, introduced in 2020, should help prevent many misdirected payments, consumers could be at risk of losing funds permanently if they don’t act quickly to inform their bank in the event of erroneous transfers.
Consumers can also stand to lose hundreds, and sometimes thousands of pounds in the event they need to cancel a package holiday, with a week in Europe this July costing £1,068 per person on average, according to recent price analysis by Which?. However, less than a third (27%) of people in the North West reported being confident of their rights in the event they ended up needing to cancel.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which gives people extra protection when making purchases over £100 on their credit cards, is an important failsafe for consumers making big ticket purchases, particularly in the event of being unable to obtain a refund from the retailer if an item does not arrive or is not of the expected quality. According to UK Finance, 21.3 million credit card transactions were made in January alone, to a value of £18.8 billion yet worryingly, well over half of respondents in the region (54%) said they were not confident that they knew what Section 75 is.
A similar proportion of people reported being unfamiliar with chargeback, which can be used by your credit or debit card provider to reverse a payment. Almost half of consumers in the North West (49%) told Which? that they were not confident they knew what it was. This is despite £64.7 billion pounds being spent on debit cards in the first month of this year.
For issues consumers have been unable to resolve by other means, the small claims court is an important mechanism for recouping costs of up to £10,000. However, the process can be daunting for many, with half (50%) of consumers in the North West reporting a lack of confidence in their understanding of the process.
Consumers are however generally more confident when it comes to dealing with day to day retail complaints. Three in five people in the area (61%) were confident that they would know how to return an item purchased online, with just 4 per cent saying they were not at all confident of what to do in this scenario. Similarly, over half of respondents (55%) were confident of what to do if their delivery or online order failed to turn up.
As part of its Get Answers campaign, which aims to bring the consumer champion’s free advice to more people than ever before, Which? is highlighting the everyday life questions its experts can help to answer.
Harry Kind, Which Consumer Rights Expert, said:
“Our research shows there’s huge confusion about the answers to consumer questions we all face every day, so I’m excited to be one of the Which? experts helping the people of Manchester get the answers they need at our live drop-in event.
“Whatever questions life throws at you, Which? is a trusted home of everyday advice, so whether you need help with travel or your energy bills, Which? can help you get the answers you need.”
Notes to editors:
Which?’s Get Answers campaign
Which?’s ‘Get Answers’ brand campaign showcases the breadth and depth of free, accessible and expert advice offered by Which?.
Today in Manchester’s Exchange Square, a billboard will be brought to life with real-life experts sitting behind windows within the hoarding, ready to get answers for passers-by on key issues of the day, from saving money, to travel tips or even gardening recommendations.
Further activity is currently live in London, with fly poster QR codes spread around the city allowing people to get answers to everyday life questions in an accessible way. TV presenter Laura Whitmore will be helping members of the public to interact with several special QR codes – including a giant parking ticket at a London parking fine hot spot, a jigsaw-themed QR code on the South Bank, pointing to advice for family days out, a ‘living’ QR code made of real moss on the way to the Chelsea Flower Show, and a UV QR code in Old Street giving night owls advice on tackling insomnia. This is being supported by national radio and digital advertising demonstrating the depth and breadth of answers to everyday questions that you can get from Which? for free.
Which? surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,195 members of the general public, with a boost in the North West to ensure a sample of 500 people within the region (sampling 2,531 consumers in total). Fieldwork was carried out by Savanta in May 2023.
Prices for a week’s package holiday in July 2023 calculated for a double or twin room across all board types for holidays to the Balearic islands, the Canary islands, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. Data collected every month between October 2022 and January 2023 from Tui and Jet2.com.
Which? advice guides
Survey results for North West
- I have a faulty product: how can I get a refund or replacement?
Net confident: 56%
Net not confident: 22%
- The car I bought has a problem: what are my rights?
Net confident: 39%
Net not confident: 32%
- I want to return my goods – what are my rights?
Net confident: 50%
Net not confident: 23%
- Can I get compensation for a flight delay?
Net confident: 41%
Net not confident: 31%
- How can I get my money back after a scam?
Net confident: 29%
Net not confident: 47%
- What is chargeback?
Net confident: 23%
Net not confident: 49%
- What is Section 75?
Net confident: 14%
Net not confident: 54%
- Do I have to pay import costs when shopping online?
Net confident: 31%
Net not confident: 42%
- How do I get money back that I’ve sent to the wrong account?
Net confident: 26%
Net not confident: 45%
- How can I complain about building work?
Net confident: 37%
Net not confident: 37%
- How do I return something I bought online?
Net confident: 61%
Net not confident: 19%
- How do I complain about my GP or doctor’s surgery?
Net confident: 39%
Net not confident: 37%
- My delivery or online order hasn’t arrived: what should I do?
Net confident: 55%
Net not confident: 21%
- How do I make a subject access request (SAR)?
Net confident: 20%
Net not confident: 53%
- What is a cooling-off period and how do I use it to cancel?
Net confident: 42%
Net not confident: 30%
- Do I have to accept a smart meter?
Net confident: 45%
Not confident: 30%
- What are my rights with gift vouchers and cards?
Net confident: 37%
Net not confident: 35%
- How can I make a claim to the small claims court?
Net confident: 26%
Net not confident: 50%
- I think my energy meter is faulty: what should I do?
Net confident: 40%
Net not confident: 32%
- I have to cancel my package holiday, what are my rights?
Net confident: 27%
Net not confident: 40%
Which? is the UK’s consumer champion, here to make life simpler, fairer and safer for everyone. Our research gets to the heart of consumer issues, our advice is impartial, and our rigorous product tests lead to expert recommendations. We’re the independent consumer voice that influences politicians and lawmakers, investigates, holds businesses to account and makes change happen. As an organisation we’re not for profit and all for making consumers more powerful.
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