Immediate release 28/11/23
Hundreds of households across Dumfries and Galloway have sought help with scams, faulty goods, and problems with local traders in the last year, according to new figures. Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot, recorded more than 1,300 complaints in the region in the 12 months to October.
Across the country there were a total of 42,953 complaints, as the cost-of-living crisis squeezed family budgets, with Dumfries and Galloway ranked tenth in Scotland for the number of disputes and inquiries over lost money and breached consumer rights.
In the past year, the charity dealt with 1,300 complaints and 140 inquiries from consumers in Dumfries and Galloway, recording 370 formal grievances against companies. Advice Direct Scotland’s advisors also received 25 complaints from businesses in the region.
- Vehicles were the most frequently complained of issue, comprising almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all cases.
- Home maintenance and improvements followed as the next most common issue, accounting for 14 per cent of the reported cases.
- Problems related to other products, and energy and heating, each accounted for 6 per cent, while glazing accounted for 5 per cent.
- There were 30 cases related to fraud, problems also included used and new cars, building and roofing work, and glazing issues.
Problems with a purchase
Experts from the service recently helped a grandmother from near Lockerbie secure a £94 refund for a defective watch purchased online for her husband.
The 77-year-old woman from the Lockerbie area sought help from Advice Direct Scotland after experiencing problems with a self-winding watch bought online as a present for her husband’s 76th birthday.
Despite having sent the watch back twice, it still wasn’t working, leading the grandmother-of-four to request a refund.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, she was entitled to a repair or a replacement under the short-term right to reject.
Since these attempts were unsuccessful, she exercised the final right to reject, entitling her to a refund or a price reduction and after being informed of her rights and using a template letter provided, she secured a refund of £94.
The grandmother from near Lockerbie, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:
“It was really disappointing that the watch wasn’t working properly as it didn’t keep time very well, especially as it was a birthday present.
“I’d already sent it back once, and then again, and the retailer said they’d had it checked by the manufacturer and couldn’t find anything wrong.
“That’s when I decided to contact Advice Direct Scotland, and the help I received was really useful – especially when it can be so difficult to speak in person to an organisation these days.
“I was able to adapt the letter they provided, and the matter was settled within a couple of hours.
Make Informed Choices
Advice Direct Scotland is encouraging the public to make informed spending choices and remain vigilant against scams, citing tips like using a credit card for purchases over £100, as it will be protected under the Consumer Credit Act.
Goods should also meet satisfactory quality standards with no faults or damage, and they should be durable.
Conor Forbes, Director of Policy with Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“The cost-of-living crisis has had a concerning impact on Scottish consumers, making it more important than ever for them to be aware of their rights and know what to do if things go wrong.
“We have witnessed significant demand from individuals across Dumfries and Galloway seeking assistance for various issues.
“People are understandably more anxious about ensuring they receive the refunds, repairs, or replacements they are entitled to.
“Unfortunately, we also know that scammers adapt their tactics to take advantage of the challenging circumstances facing many families in Dumfries and Galloway.