For the second consecutive year, the Commerce Commission has publicly released its Consumer Issues Paper, containing a list of the most complained about companies and industries. According to the paper, a quarter of all complaints were about just 21 companies, with the top three being Spark (140 complaints), Vodafone (133) and Trade Me (121). While Telcos have been the worst-performing sector, the also included both supermarket chains Foodstuffs (with 59 complaints) and Progressive Enterprises (with 51 complaints), which were the subject of nearly 92 percent of the 118 complaints about supermarkets to the Commission. The majority of complaints (66 percent) were about pricing, namely about advertised specials not being charged correctly at the checkout.

According to Foodstuffs’ head of external relations, Antoinette Laird, the reported figures are not statistically significant.
“We think that considering every month Foodstuffs serves two million customers who visit our stores more than 13 million times over this period, 59 individual complaints is a relatively small volume,” Laird told SupermarketNews.

As for Progressive, Countdown’s national communications & public affairs manager, Kate Porter, pointed out that “the data on its own does not indicate that any law has been breached.”
“As a large business there will always be some level of feedback, but we were pleased to be further down the list this year. We value and take on board any feedback we receive - whether that’s from the Commission or our customers.”
Porter also added that last year Countdown had become a member of the Commerce Commission’s Trader Compliance Programme.

Back to the Consumer Issues Paper, price appears to be Kiwis’ main cause of concern (26 percent) across all sectors, followed by the quality of goods (23 percent) and the quality of services provided (22 percent).