Customers experiencing issues with faulty goods and services was the main complaint made to the consumer watchdog last year, a report shows.
More than 37,000 contacts were made with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s (CCPC) helpline in 2021.
Just over 5,800 people got in touch regarding faulty goods and services, with some of the most common issues relating to items of high value such as cars.
Covid-19 restrictions brought contract cancellations to the forefront in 2020 with people having to postpone weddings and other events, but there was a huge drop-off in this trend last year, with just over 2,300 people getting in touch about contracts compared with over 6,000 the previous year.
Consumer issues with faulty goods and services (5,841) was almost on par with the year before (6,039).
Examples of the types of queries included whether consumers had to accept a repair or replacement or if they were entitled to seek a refund.
Issues with domestic appliances, cars and other items were among the most common faulty goods.
The other top consumer issues related to quality and conformity, buying online and contract deposits, payments and charges.
Despite online shopping becoming increasingly popular during the pandemic, the number of contacts related to in-store purchases was still slightly higher last year.
In 2020, for the first time ever, the CCPC received a higher number of consumer contacts related to online purchases than purchases made in-store. Last year there was a slight change – just over 8,500 consumers called or emailed about issues with in-store buys, while 8,093 contacts concerned online shopping.
There were 34,000 visits to the CCPC’s dedicated online Covid hub, but the number of queries was significantly down when compared with the previous year, with 82,000 visitors in 2020.
Travel, transport and holidays were the most popular categories for helpline quer-ies in the first year of the pandemic, but these types of contacts decreased by 68pc last year.
Gráinne Griffin, the director of communications with the CCPC, said Covid “became more mainstream” last year.
“Businesses became more aware of the risks and the terms and conditions,” she said.
The top five business sectors that featured in the queries were vehicles and transport, telecommunications, holidays and transport, electronics and home building and improvements.
Some consumers also sought additional measures regarding their rights.
In 66pc of contacts made with the helpline, consumers were referred or signposted to another organisation as an additional source of specialist information or support for consumers seeking redress.
A total of 10,472 consumers were referred to the Small Claims Court to address their issue, while 2,564 were referred to the European Consumer Centre, which provides assistance to consumers who have disputes with businesses based in other EU countries.
The CCPC’s Money Tools, which allow consumers to compare various financial products from a range of different providers, had 477,397 visits to this section of the website last year.
The most popular pages were the mortgage calculator money tool (214,410 visits) and the mortgage comparison money tool (188,199 visits).