Problems with online shopping have been the most common complaints since the start of the pandemic, a new study has found.
Hundreds of thousands of shoppers have been frustrated this year as uncertainty in the early weeks of the crisis led to panic buying and a lack of available stock.
More recently, shoppers have felt infuriated by brands that do not have customer service teams or staff to process returns in time.
A study by Resolver, an online complaints platform, showed that 147,803 people logged a problem with their online shopping experience between April and the end of September. This was 114pc higher than the previous six months, which included Christmas.
Shoppers ordering online have faced chaos this year, as thousands of items have been delivered late or not turned up at all. There were 54,401 complaints about package delivery in the six-month period.
Despite shops closing their doors for an extended period during lockdown, there was a drop of just 2pc in the number of complaints made about the high street, down to 36,683 cases.
This was sparked by anger towards shopworkers who refused to wear a mask. Between March and July, more than 2,000 people specifically mentioned face masks when making a complaint, Resolver found.
The report said businesses had reacted to the rise in complaints by making it harder to complain, rather than investing in customer service at a time when it was vitally needed.
More than half of the 500,000 complaints received by Resolver over lockdown mentioned customer service problems.
Around 250,000 said they were unable to contact a business by phone or email. Many businesses have responded to the deluge of complaints by removing their customer service options, the report said.
Alex Neill, of Resolver, said: “Our complaints show that people have shown considerable patience and only sought help for the most urgent or serious concerns during this time. However, this patience is rightly wearing thin, particularly with those firms that make it unnecessarily hard to complain and fail to deliver basic customer service.”
Problems with holiday bookings have been another major source of complaints, the study found. Millions of holidays have been derailed by the pandemic and many people have been forced to wait for a long time to get a refund or rebook their travel plans for a later date.
There have been thousands of new complaints every week. In total, 78,273 people complained about travel agents, airlines, tour operators and hotels over the six-month period.