More than one in 10 people who have requested a return for items and services bought during the coronavirus lockdown are yet to get their money back, a survey has found.
Meanwhile, more than a third (36 per cent) of people are avoiding making big purchases due to fears their money would not be returned if they needed a refund and over a quarter (28 per cent) are more worried about securing a refund since the pandemic started.
Some 11 per cent of those surveyed who have requested their money back are still waiting for a refund or a voucher or claim they have been denied access to it, the research from Visa found.
Some people wanting to get their money back said they had been deterred due to being unable to contact the company concerned, while others said they were confused about the returns process or did not have the time to pursue it.
With many businesses having to temporarily shut in recent months, the typical refund wait time has also increased during the lockdown, the research suggests.
One in eight people said it took more than a month to get their money back during the pandemic, compared with one in 14 who got a refund beforehand.
Over-55s are experiencing the biggest typical wait for refunds, the research found with 5 per cent waiting over a month before the pandemic, compared to 17 per cent who have experienced this wait time since.
More than two fifths (41 per cent) of people surveyed between 21 and 23 July had requested a return for items, services or events since the pandemic started.
Among those who were able to access refunds, a fifth said they only received partial refunds, through cash or vouchers.
The survey of 2,000 people across the UK, carried out by Opinium, also found that 49 per cent of people who experienced refund issues have not been able to use their purchase.
This could be because it was faulty, the wrong item, it never arrived, it was not as advertised, the customer was incorrectly charged multiple times or billed the wrong amount, or the purchase was not authorised.
Many people would feel anxious about making travel-related bookings amid concerns about the changeable situation, the research suggests.
More than a third (34 per cent) of people said they are worried about a travel booking being refunded due to possible further lockdowns and concerns about the potential for a second peak of the virus.
Customers who do not receive the goods or services they expected can explore other options.
Those who have paid by credit card may be able to get a refund from their card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
This makes the card company jointly liable with the retailer if something goes wrong with purchases between £100 and £30,000.
Cardholders holders may also want to try chargeback – which reverses transactions made by credit or debit card, as the bank withdraws funds that were previously deposited with a retailer and puts them back in the customer’s account.
People who have paid by PayPal, which offers “buyer protection” subject to terms and conditions, can also ask it to step in when something goes wrong.
Jeni Mundy, UK and Ireland managing director, Visa, said: “With consumer spending crucial to Britain’s economic recovery, it’s concerning to see that people are worried about securing refunds should they need to, and that in some cases this is even preventing them from making purchases.
“It’s important that people understand the many options open to them to get their money back should something go wrong.
“A good place to start is to get familiar with a seller’s cancellation, refund and exchange policy before you buy – this can often be easily found on their website.”
Here are the top items or services people are wanting their money back on, according to Visa:
1. Clothes, shoes and accessories
2. Hotel bookings
=4. Theatre tickets
=6. Food and drink
=6. Home appliances
=8. Furniture and home furnishings
10. Sporting goods