Second hand cars and mobile phone problems are biggest consumer gripes

2nd September 2015


Second-hand cars and mobile phones were the most common issues consumers complained about to Citizens Advice in the last twelve months.

The national charity reveals that faulty vehicles were the biggest problem people had with second hand cars, making it the number one consumer gripe that the service helped with.

Substandard service, particularly poor signal, caused a quarter of the problems relating to mobile phones.

These figures are part of the latest Consumer Advice Trends report from Citizens Advice, which details the types of issues affecting consumers.

Citizens Advice’s new report also identifies emerging problems in April to June 2015. The findings show more people have been seeking advice about lottery scams and parking enforcement issues, compared to the same period in the previous year.

The top three biggest increases in issues that the consumer helpline dealt with between April and June 2015 were:

Lottery scams – increased by 170% to almost 1,000 issues. Lottery scams are unsolicited mail that suggests the person has won a prize, which they have to send sums of money to receive.

Problems with parking and clamping  – cases increased by nearly 25%. Previous research has shown that consumers are being hit by hefty charges for parking on private land.

Internet service providers – 20% increase in problems. These have mainly been about poor service from providers and misleading sales tactics.

The charity also reports that people are increasingly turning to its online services for advice. Citizens Advice consumer pages attracted nearly 4 million views between April and June 2015, which is twice the number of views they had in the same period in 2014.

Half a million people have sought Citizens Advice’s help for consumer issues between April and June 2015, according to new data from the charity. Local services dealt with 329,500 of these cases and the consumer helpline helped with 153,200 issues in this period.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, says: “Consumers should feel in the driving seat when things go wrong.

“Whether dealing with a faulty second-hand car or a problem with their mobile phone, it is important people have the information they need to stand up for their consumer rights.

“Mobile phone networks and internet service providers need to ensure that markets work for consumers. The second hand car industry must make sure that the goods it sells fit legal requirements, and to provide comprehensive information about the vehicle so consumers can make an informed decision.”


Top 5 issues raised to the Consumer Service between June 2014 and July 2015 Number of cases

July  2014 – June 2015

Second-hand cars from independent dealers 50,072
Mobile phone contracts and handsets 21,019
Car servicing and repairs by an independent garage 10,847
General building work 9,638
Upholstered furniture 9,031


The law states that goods should be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and sold ‘as described’. This applies to anything from handbags to used cars. If goods do not meet these minimum standards, you have the right to ask for a solution. This could be a refund or a replacement.

You can also phone the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline, 03454 04 05 06, which can advise on your rights and also refer potential breaches of consumer law to Trading Standards.

If you have been sold a mobile phone on the basis of good coverage at home or at work, you can complain if this turns out not to be the case.

If you paid for the faulty item with a credit card and it cost between £100 and £30,000, then you may be able to get your money back from your credit card issuer by going through their complaints procedure. If the product comes with a warranty or guarantee, then this may offer you even more protection if something goes wrong.

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