Ungated Post | 26 Sep 2016

Consumer detriment: Counting the cost of consumer problems

Every year, millions of UK consumers suffer from some form of consumer detriment, be it a delayed delivery, substandard service or the purchase of a faulty item. Such experiences are a familiar feature of everyday lives, but quantifying the scale and impact of these experiences for UK consumers in a systematic way is a complex task.

This research project takes account of the monetary and time costs of consumer detriment, as well as compensation, to arrive at a considered estimate of total net cost for the UK population. This valuation incorporates three core elements. Firstly, it calculates the direct monetary costs borne by consumers who experience problems. These might be cash outlays caused by the problem itself (for example, when a broken toy is simply written off or when a poorly fitted boiler causes knock-on problems that have further costs) as well as any resulting loss of earnings. Secondly, it calculates the value of any leisure time given up by the consumer in experiencing or attempting to resolve the issue, so-called ‘time costs’, which might include things like time wasted on a delayed train, or time spent in a phone queue to get through to customer services. Thirdly, it calculates any compensation payments awarded in light of any claims made by the consumer, and subtracts these from the monetary and time costs described above. This approach seeks to present a comprehensive picture of UK consumer detriment, both larger and smaller problems.

Read the full report.

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