A spike in consumer complaints since the pandemic has seen the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) claw back $617,644 for Wide Bay consumers in 2022.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman says with more Queenslanders feeling the pressure from the rising cost of living, it’s important that consumers are getting what they paid for and that they feel they are getting value for money.
“Queensland wide OFT finalised more than 19,300 complaints and put more than $11.2 million back in consumers’ pockets,” she says.
Wide Bay consumers raised 611 issues last year.
The highest number of complaints locally were for the personal and household goods industry.
“This category includes purchases of everyday items such as whitegoods, appliances, hardware, clothing and footwear – so it’s no surprise this continues to be at the top of the complaints list,” Minister Fentiman says.
“However, since the pandemic, complaints have soared for these types of purchases, with more than a 50 per cent increase since 2019.
“There has also been an increase of more than 80 per cent in complaints for the personal and household services industry since the pandemic – this industry includes complaints about services such as whitegoods repairs, removalist services and cleaning companies.”
Increases are to be expected after pent-up demand and supply chain issues during COVID-19, this is an issue the OFT is closely monitoring.
These issues encountered by consumers in these sectors are expected to return closer to trend as supply chain issues resolve. In the meantime, consumers can protect themselves by doing their homework and asking questions – Is the item in stock? What date will I receive it? And will you provide a full refund if I don’t have it by that date? If consumers still encounter problems, they can lodge a complaint with the OFT.
In 2022 the OFT assisted thousands of Queenslanders to get refunds, including obtaining a full refund of $38,000 for a consumer who was sold a dodgy camper trailer and assisting a consumer to get their new vinyl flooring replaced after the freshly laid flooring started to lift and became uneven.
“The redress received for Queenslanders was seen across many industries including a $3,400 refund for cancelled airline flights,” the Attorney said.
“In another example, the OFT assisted a Queenslander in obtaining a full refund of $46,000 after purchasing a motor vehicle which was not what was advertised.”
The top 5 most complained about industries in the Wide Bay in 2022:
- Personal and household goods
- Personal and household services
- Motor vehicle sales
- Motor vehicle services, repairs, parts
- Real estate agents