FAULTY smartphones have emerged as a major cause of complaints by disgruntled consumers in the small claims courts.
The new generation of mobile phones, along with other electrical products, account for a large and growing number of consumer cases in the courts.
The small claims court provides unhappy consumers with an inexpensive and relatively fast way to resolve disputes without the need to employ a solicitor.
There have been big increases in recent years in complaints relating to cars, furniture and doors/roofs.
The holiday sector has far fewer complaints than five years ago, although there was a significant increase in such complaints last year.
Figures show there was a total of 3,947 complaints received in the small claims court in 2010, compared with 3,633 in 2009, up 23%. Trends for the main sources of complaints in recent years show:
* 416 complaints in relation to cars, compared with 359 in 2009. This number has risen steadily in recent years: from 251 in 2007 and 207 in 2006.
* 391 complaints on electrical goods, compared with 361 in 2009. This number has increased from 341 in 2007 and 219 in 2005.
* 376 cases regarding furniture, compared with 343 in 2009. This figures has risen from 311 in 2007, 207 in 2005 and 133 in 2003.
* 226 cases relating to mobile phones, compared with 185 in 2009. Before 2009, mobiles phones didn’t feature as a separate category, reflecting the low number of related complaints.
* 218 complaints about audio/computer equipment, compared with 192 in 2009, 172 in 2007 and 153 in 2005.
* 151 cases regarding doors and roofs, compared with 135 in 2009, 82 in 2007 and 60 in 2995
There was an increase in the number of holiday-related complaints: 183 last year, compared with 142 in 2009.
However, the number has dropped dramatically from 403 in 2008, 393 in 2006 and 360 in 2004.
There were the same number of cases in relation to dry cleaners in the last two years (97) — a significant drop from 2008 (220), but more in line with the previous two years (107).
Applications that were referred to the district court rose from 584 in 2009 to 731 in 2010.
The registrars at small claims courts settled 32% of cases in 2010 — 1,251 cases, compared to 1,200 in 2009.
Decrees by default, which are granted where the person against whom the claim is made does not respond, increased by 23%, from 281 to 345.
Decrees were granted in 322 (44%) of the 731 cases referred to the district court in 2010. Some 77 cases (11%) were dismissed and the remaining 322 (45%) were struck out or withdrawn.
* For more, see http://www.citizensinformation.ie or http://www.courts.ie
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