Banks and mobiles top consumers' problem list
Published 29/07/2014 | 02:30
Telecoms companies and banks have emerged as the firms requiring the most intervention by the state body charged with protecting consumer interests.
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has taken the unusual step of publishing a list of companies that prompted consumer contacts to it last year.
Telecoms provider Vodafone topped the list with 1,817 consumers contacting the NCA about it, more than double the number for the next on the list, Bank of Ireland (BoI), with close to 900.
The NCA said the number of contacts reflects the number of people who sought information on consumer issues and should not necessarily be read as the number of complaints received.
But it is understood that most of the consumer contacts were because consumers were dissatisfied with the service they got.
Mobile provider Three was third on the list, with 816 consumer contacts to the NCA.
It was followed by Eircom, AIB, Meteor, Greyhound, O2, Ulster Bank, Harvey Norman and UPC.
The NCA said it was contacted by 56,000 consumers last year, mainly by telephone.
Companies name checked in the annual report of the NCA stressed that consumers may not necessarily have complained about them.
Instead, consumers may be unsure of their rights.
The main issues prompting consumers to make contact with the consumer agency was disputes over the sales of goods and services, followed by issues over consumer contracts, and then billings and invoices.
Prices and online sales also featured heavily in the reasons consumers sought help from the consumer body, according to the agency's annual report.
Asked for more details on what constitutes a consumer contact to the NCA, a spokesman said it was engaging "on a proactive bases with the companies that prompt high levels of consumer contacts".
NCA chief executive Karen O'Leary said the agency was getting an average of 160 consumer contacts a day, and 115 enforcement actions were taken last year against firms breaching consumer law.
"The level of contacts we receive highlights that across some sectors companies are failing to deliver effective customer service when an issue arises."
A spokesman for Vodafone said it appeared high up the list because it has 2.4 million customers, while BoI had no comment.