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Millions of UK consumers get satisfaction by complaining on social media

04 July 2016

UK companies have paid out nearly £140m in refunds and goodwill gifts to social media complainers in the last 12 months

  • 16m UK consumers have used social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to complain about products and services
  • Successful social media complainers received just under £32 each in refunds and gifts

Millions of UK consumers have taken to social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to air their grievances about companies’ products and services.

A new study by price comparison website Gocompare.com has found that 33% of the UK’s adults have complained via social media and 42% of those said that having done so their issue was resolved quickly. 27% subsequently received refunds and money off whilst 15% received a goodwill gift.

Researchers found that in the last 12 months, social media complainers have received discounts and free gifts worth around £140m from the companies they’ve engaged with on social media, an average of around £32 each.

However, a surprising 42% of UK consumers have also used social media to praise companies, proving that these days, consumers are just as likely to share their positive experiences as they are their bad ones.

Head of money, Matt Sanders, commented: “Many companies now use social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to build greater engagement with their customers and although this research shows that they can be a great way of collecting customer endorsements and compliments, many consumers are also now successfully using them as a means of raising a complaint.

“For businesses with a large social media following, having someone leave a scathing message about a product or service on their Facebook page is equivalent to having an angry customer standing in a large and busy store shouting ‘I’m not happy with this!’. In those circumstances a staff member would quickly try to deal with the situation so as not to put other customers off. Many larger businesses now have dedicated teams to respond to and deal with negative comments on their social media channels quickly and efficiently, not only to try to get those customers back onside and stop them making further fuss, but to show their other ‘followers’ that if things do go wrong they will deal with it quickly and fairly.

“Many people dislike confrontation and find complaining in person or over the phone quite difficult, even when their consumer rights are being ignored. Whether you’re an expert complainer, or you find it hard to speak out about receiving a poor product or service, using social media is an increasingly common and, for many consumers, successful way of getting your issue resolved.”

Gocompare.com's Covered Mag has produced a guide on complaining via social media and your consumer rights

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Notes to editors:

*Between the 14th and 23rd March 2016 One Poll conducted an online survey among 2000 randomly selected British adults with children aged between 0 and 16.

UK adult population (20+) estimated to be 48,913,000 (source: ONS Annual mid-year population estimates for the UK 2014)

33% of UK adults have complained on social media. 33% of 48,913,000 is 16,141,290. 27% of those received refunds or gifts as a result. 27% of 16,141,290 is 4,358,148. 4,358,148 x £31.93 = £139,155,675