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Level of consumer empowerment hits record high

  • 85% of consumers now willing to complain
  • 78% confident of their rights
  • 71% feel protected in respect of their rights

18 August 2011

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) today published results of recent research which shows that over nine out of 10 Irish consumers who had cause to complain about a purchase in the past year did so and that 93% of those complaints were either partially or wholly resolved to the customers' satisfaction.

The research also showed that 85% of consumers are willing to complain and of those who did, 78% stated that they found the complaints process somewhat or very easy. The research was conducted by Amárach Research and examined levels of consumer confidence in relation to their rights and willingness to complain. 

Commenting on the latest research results, Ann Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the NCA, remarked: "Today's results point to an important shift in the dynamic between consumers and the businesses that serve them.

"Previously, we saw a greater reluctance to complain - in 2008 just seven in ten dissatisfied consumers actually did anything about their retail problems, whereas today more than 90% of consumers tell us that they did make a complaint where a product or service was not to their satisfaction.

"Most encouragingly for those consumers, 93% of them had their complaint either partially or wholly resolved.

"As consumer confidence and knowledge of their rights increases, we are seeing this feed through into positive complaints behaviour. Complaints can be an excellent test of standards of customer service and good traders should welcome them. We are happy to see the very high levels of complaints resolution reported."

Almost four in five (78%) consumers now declare themselves confident of their consumer rights, up from fewer than three in four (73%) a year ago; while just one in 10 (10%), down from almost one in five (18%) in June 2010, now declare themselves not to be confident in this area.

Significantly, whereas 15% of consumers reported that they did not feel protected as regards their consumer rights in June 2010, this number had almost halved to 8% by May/June 2011.

More detailed analysis of the research shows that those in lower income groups, males and those not responsible for the main household shopping are behind the overall average when it comes to their feelings of confidence and knowledge of their consumer rights.

Across both males and females, results for the 15 to 24-year-old age group are also below the average in terms of their confidence, knowledge and feelings of protection regarding their consumer rights.

Ms Fitzgerald continued: "While the results are positive overall there are clearly some groups that still aren't sure what to do when things go wrong.

"We would urge people who might be uncertain about how to go about making a consumer complaint to find out about their rights and to speak up if they are unhappy with a product or a service they have purchased.

"Our consumer helpline on 1890 432432 can guide consumers through the complaints making process if they have a difficulty they want to address. Consumers can also get lots of practical information from our website,, if they need to learn how they can best go about making a complaint."

Learn more

Download the full report on the survey (MS Word, 569 KB)

Download the slide presentation on the key findings (MS PowerPoint, 731 KB)

Don't use PowerPoint? View the presentation on using your PC or mobile phone.