§ Mr. David Young
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she is satisfied with the way in which the shoe retailing trade deals with customers who complain about shoddy footwear; and if she will make recommended standard or after-sales service available to them.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she is satisfied with the standard of service being provided for customers by the shoe retailing trade.
Mr. Alan Williams
I believe there is much room for improvement. The experience of my own Department and of the Office of Fair Trading bears out the recent statement by the National Consumer Protection Council that more customers complain about their treatment by shoe shops than by any other kind of shop.
Nearly 25 per cent. of all the telephone complaints and some 12 per cent. of all the written complaints about unsatisfactory goods which my Department has received from consumers since the beginning of 1973 have concerned shoes. I understand that, in the analysis of consumer complaints dealt with by trading standards officers and by citizens' advice bureaux which is now being received by the Office of Fair Trading, the number of complaints about footwear is among the highest for any category of goods.
Action to deal with the problem is largely a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading. I understand that he 466W is anxious to develop a proper system for dealing with consumer complaints in this area and for making confidential test reports on footwear more widely available, and that he has already met representatives of the footwear trade associations with a view to developing an industry-wide code of practice.