Britons take to the web to make their point as complaints rise

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Poor service and substandard goods are making Britons a nation of complainers, a survey has revealed.

The figures from the Ombudsman Services have shown 52 million cases of dissatisfaction over products and services in the last year.

Retailers were responsible for the majority of moans, generating 23 per cent of complaints, with faulty products being the main problem.

Telecomms companies were also the cause of much wailing and gnashing of teeth, with 16 per cent of all complaints being attributed to problems including dodgy signals and poor connections as well as billing issues.

Power companies similarly were unpopular with 13 per cent of all complaints concerning energy supply and invoicing.

The cost of taking a complaint further can be prohibitive, meaning that only one in twenty cases make it to the courts, while one in 10 are more likely to look to the Ombudsman for help. But with public reputation now crucial for companies in the online world, naming and shaming via Facebook and Twitter is becoming a regular outlet for frustration and a useful way to get satisfaction, with social media complaints up 5 per cent last year to 18 million.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: “We’re still seeing consumers ignore millions of problems each year because they’d rather suffer in silence than go through the perceived hassle of complaining – but it’s not as complex and time-consuming as they might think.

“Forward-thinking companies are starting to sign up to alternative dispute resolution services, which are free for their customers – with the continued increase of social media, a poorly handled complaint could significantly damage both their brand and reputation.”