Marketing Mix: We'll call you - Consumer Direct

After the holiday from hell, we rang the government's customer advice line to find out if we have cause for redress.

CD Good morning Consumer Direct, how may I help?

Mtkg I got a leaflet through my door about your service saying you help with all sorts of 'consumer issues'.

CD Right.

Mtkg I went on holiday and what they promised us in the brochure didn't live up to expectations.

CD There's not a lot we can actually advise on. It depends what you're actually looking for from the situation. What do you want?

Mtkg Well, we paid a lot of money for a holiday we didn't get.

CD OK. The advice I can offer you is to write to the company.

Mtkg We've already done that several times and got nowhere.

CD You could say that you were misled and promised all these things. Itemise the letter.

Mtkg Yeah, done that.

CD All we would advise is to argue that you were misled. You could say you had a lack of enjoyment due to these things not happening.

Mtkg We've already done all that. I decided to call you because your leaflet says you provide 'clear practical advice'.

CD We deal mainly with consumer law with faulty goods.

Mtkg But surely buying a holiday is like buying a product?

CD You could argue that, but I would advise you to write to the company and state you're not happy with the holiday.

Mtkg What's the next step?

CD Was it through a travel agent?

Mtkg No, directly from the operator.

CD You can argue if they are with ABTA.

Mtkg I've already been to them and so far I've got nowhere.

CD Maybe the Citizens Advice Bureau, then? They help draft a letter to the company. We don't mediate when it comes to these situations.

Mtkg What's the point of your organisation?

CD We provide clear practical consumer advice and complex issues get passed to Trading Standards. There have been a lot of issues where Trading Standards haven't had a chance to operate with criminal issues.

VERDICT

The direct mail promoting this service described it as an all-singing, all-dancing helpline.

However, the call experience didn't live up to the hype and I came off the phone wondering why the government had spent money on this new set-up when a website would have sufficed.

The call-handler didn't sound like he had much confidence in what he was saying, and repeated the same advice as if reading from a script.

Score 3/10.

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