Scots less likely to complain than the rest of the UK

by Communications Team | Sep 21, 2015

People in Scotland are less likely to complain about a product or services than those in the rest of the UK, with only 36% following up a problem (compared to 48% across the UK) according to new research issued by one of the UK’s leading providers of dispute resolution services.

The Consumer Action Monitor, carried out in Scotland for the first time by Ombudsman Services, found that more than a half of Scots (56%) had an issue with a product of service at least once during 2014, representing more than 2.3m people. 

The retail sector is the most likely to be on the receiving end of gripes from Scottish consumers, attracting  nearly a third (31%) of all complaints from Scots.  The next sectors most likely to attract the ire of the Scottish public were Energy (12%), Banking (8%) and Telecoms (6%).

In 2014, Ombudsman Services handled 6886 cases from Scotland, more than double the number (2972) from 2013. 

Other key findings from the report include:

  • There were 3.7 million customer complaints in Scotland in 2014 – one problem every five seconds
  • People in Scotland were less likely to complain than the rest of the UK, with only 36% taking their problem further (compared to 48% across the UK)
  • People in South of Scotland were the most likely to complain, whilst people most likely to “grin and bear it” were those in Lothian.
  • People in North East Scotland made the most complaints in 2014, with 1.05 per head
  • A further 6.6 million problems in Scotland were conceived but not acted upon, the equivalent of 1.26 per person. 

Commenting on the publication of the report, Lewis Shand Smith, Chief Executive of Ombudsman Services said: “This is the first time we have focussed on Scotland in our Consumer Action Monitor report which has previously been carried out across the UK.  The findings differ to research carried out in other areas of the UK, with Scots less prepared to complain with people elsewhere.”

“In 2014, Ombudsman Services handled 6886 cases from Scotland, more than double the number (2972) from 2013.  However, this isn’t necessarily bad news as it could indicate greater awareness amongst Scottish consumers of how to complain effectively and ensure they receive the service they are entitled to.”

“With the prospect of additional powers over consumer affairs issues being devolved to Holyrood by the Scotland Bill currently being debated at Westminster, we hope this data will also provide additional information to those deciding how best to manage these issues in Scotland in future.”

“Last month, we also launched a new Consumer Ombudsman Service across the UK and I would urge anyone in Scotland who feels their complaint has been poorly handled by a company to get in touch with our team and see if we are able to assist.”


Notes to Editors


  • Research carried out by ICM Research.
  • Nationally representative sample of 502 adults aged 18+, living in Scotland
  • Research covers all of Scotland, with breakdowns by gender, age, region, social grade, work status and tenure
  • Fieldwork was completed between 23rd July 2015 and 29th July 2015
  • Certain explorations have been made based on the findings in order to estimate the numbers of complaints that have taken place nationally, regionally and within particular industry sectors