New research from Citizens Advice Dorset has found that since October 2023, 25 per cent of shoppers in the south west have experienced a problem with an item they’ve bought.

The charity’s study found that, nationally, consumers spent over £2 billion, and six million hours, with an average of £64 and 94 minutes per person, trying to fix these issues.

This was made up of people needing to take time off work to return a parcel within set hours, or racking up phone bills hanging on the end of a customer helpline.

Further analysis suggested that the top issues across the country included, delivery issues which made up a total of 57 per cent, with products arriving late 28 per cent of the time or not arriving at all 27 per cent of the time and an additional 52 per cent of consumers were found to have received defective goods

Rovarn Wickremasinghe, Chief Officer, Citizens Advice Bridport, said: “As we go into the new year, it’s important that people are armed with the right knowledge to shop safely.

“With budgets already stretched, none of us want to waste precious time or money on retail issues that could easily be avoided.

“Citizens Advice is dedicated to giving consumers the knowledge they need to stay savvy when shopping on the high street or online. Everyone can be a consumer champion when they have the right information.”

The charity has now offered advice to help consumers shop safely, also marking the start of its Consumer Awareness Campaign which runs from Monday, January 29 – Sunday, February 4).

If you are facing delivery problems, they suggest that ‘It’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you,’ adding ‘check the delivery address you gave the seller and contact them to ask where your order is.

If the seller claims they've delivered it or don't know where it is, you can ask for a redelivery. You might be able to get a refund in some circumstances.’

With regard to defective goods, ‘if something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you might be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. You will have legal rights if the item you bought is broken or damaged (not of satisfactory quality), unusable (not fit for purpose) or not what was advertised.'

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