Consumers rank social media as only slightly more effective than sending a letter when it comes to complaining to a retailer, according to a survey.
Fewer than half of people who experienced an issue with a retailer rated social media, online chat bots and text as efficient communication methods as technology fails to improve on speaking with staff, Which? found.
The consumer group polled more than 5,000 consumers who complained about an online order from major technology, fashion, DIY and homewares retailers during the pandemic.
Just 45% of respondents who used social media to complain said it was an efficient option, while the only method to score worse was sending a letter by post, deemed efficient by 37% of consumers.
Just under half of participants (46%) who used online chat bots – which often pop up when consumers are browsing on retailers’ websites – said they were efficient, with the same percentage saying text messaging was effective.
Face-to-face communication was an effective option for 65% of consumers, with just 20% saying it was inefficient.
Similarly, 65% of consumers who spoke to a real person through online chat said this was effective, with 63% saying they achieved a successful outcome by speaking over the phone.
Adam French, Which? consumer rights editor, said: “With so many people having made the switch to shopping online during the pandemic, it’s important to know the most efficient way to get any issues resolved.
“Our survey shows just how important it is for retailers to allow customers to speak to someone directly.
“Retailers who are falling short must improve their customer service offerings and, where possible, offer customers the chance to speak to a member of staff if their issue cannot be resolved through other methods.
“Shoppers should always document any issues with an order and contact the retailer as soon as possible.
“If they aren’t responding or can’t fix the problem, you can try getting a refund using chargeback if you paid by debit card, or if the item cost more than £100 and you paid by credit card, you can try using Section 75 to get your money back.”