Problems with goods and services leave Irish consumers out of pocket by €1bn a year

Survey finds approximately 1.6 million adults had problems with purchases in last 12 months

Faulty goods or services cost Irish consumers almost €1 billion a year while about 1.6 million adults have problems with something they bought over the last 12 months, a new study finds.

According to State watchdog the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), 39 per cent of people told a survey they had complaints about something they bought, costing them money, time or stress.

“This works out as roughly 1.6 million of the total adult population of Ireland,” says the commission in its report, Understanding Consumer Detriment in Ireland, published on Monday.

Based on that, commission staff calculate that the most serious problems cost Irish people €968 million a year, about six cent in every €10 of the €162 billion total that the Republic’s shoppers spend annually.


Home products and tools are most likely to have faults, with 13 per cent of people reporting problems with these goods.

Telecoms come next with about one in every eight consumers highlighting issues with these services. Holiday and travel companies annoy 11 per cent of respondents while vehicles cause one in 10 consumers grievance, says the report.

Banks, medical services and digital subscriptions also register high on the commission’s survey, each hitting 9 per cent of the 4,500 people who took part.

Issues with goods or services cost those respondents an average of €60 each, says the report.

Those expenses included what people paid initially, repairs and legal fees, while the CCPC factors in any compensation consumers received.

Faulty goods and service also cost consumers time and cause them stress. More than nine of out 10 people spend part of their free time trying to resolve these problems, while two out of three confess to also doing this at work.

The report says that 15 per cent of people report being “extremely stressed” as a result, while two out of three are stressed moderately or quite a lot.

Almost 30 per cent of people who ran into problems with childcare or education are likely to find this extremely stressful, according to the commission.

About one in four people had the same response to dealing with gambling firms, vehicle problems, holiday issues or power companies.

The commission carried out the survey over a period between 2022 and 2023, and focused on problems that people had encountered over the previous 12 months.

The study found that when consumers contacted the seller, one in eight had the issue resolved in a day, while one-third got satisfaction within a week.

Brian McHugh, CCPC chairman, argued that people should be able to rely on the goods and services they buy.

“And if things do go wrong, their right to redress is set out in consumer protection law,” he added.

Mr McHugh said the commission would use everything at its disposal to protect consumers.

“New laws and more resources mean we can increase inspections, increase enforcement and ultimately save consumers money, time and stress.”

The consumer watchdog urged people to know their rights, contact the trader rather than the manufacturer and to act fast if they have a problem.

Ipsos MRBI did the fieldwork on the CCPC’s behalf, according to the report.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas