You’re PPI-ing us off, say Britons

  • Unwanted automated calls top list of modern moans
  • Brits grumble but don’t take action
  • We’re becoming a nation of Victor Meldrews

Automated phone calls, such as from PPI claims companies, are top of people’s list of modern moans, according to new research. 

Rather than making life easier, technology is often something that irritates us.  Uninvited calls from companies selling goods and services now top a list of Britain’s modern moans, along with poor manners and service. 

The research conducted on behalf of The Mortgage Lender, calculated a “Grumble Factor” (GF) for each modern moan according to how often it was raised as an irritant by the 2,000 adults surveyed.  The most frequent moan was automated calls, with a Grumble Factor of 8.4 out of 10.

Amongst the most common gripes of modern life were queue jumping, drivers who hog the middle lane, using your mobile phone at the dinner table, hidden fees and charges and scheduled deliveries not arriving on time.

The UK’s top ‘modern moans’:

Grumble Factor (out of 10)

1. Automated calls (e.g.PPI) 8.4
2. Queue jumping 6.5
3. Hidden fees and charges 6.4
4. Existing customers getting a worse deal than new customers  5.6
5. Misleading/unclear prices and offers 4.9
6. Scheduled deliveries not being on time 4.7
7. People using their phones at the dinner table 4.2
8. Drivers sitting in the middle lane 3.9
9. Computers making decisions (e.g. for mortgage or loan) 3.9
10. Paying for Wi-Fi in hotels 3.8

Automated calls were the number one irritant in cities across the UK, but Chelmsford, in Essex, stood out as the nation’s capital of PPI call hatred, where it earned a near-maximum Grumble Factor of 9.5. 

Comparatively, women tended to find that modern life gave rise to more irritations than men.  In each of their top 10 irritants, women were more likely to note their annoyance than men, and, on average, grumbled 25 per cent more often.

While both sexes shared many irritations in their top 10s, it is men that are likely to be tutting and toe tapping if the person ahead of them at a till doesn’t have their money ready.  This minor inconvenience ranked at number 10 for them, while it didn’t chart for women. 

The results also reveal there could be a lot of truth in the stereotype of the Victor Meldrew-like grumpy older person.  The Mortgage Lender calculated the “Grumble Factor” for each age group surveyed, which showed that as we age we really do start to get more irritable.

Until our mid-30s we generally don’t let things bother us, but once we hit middle-age things irritate us more and more until we get to our 70s when most things seem to get on our nerves.

Yet in spite of these irritations, gripes, grumbles and moans, the British stiff upper lip means we are all too often happy to accept these things rather than do something about them.  Fewer than one in seven of those asked said they actually complained about any of these issues, and half said they generally just accepted them.

The lack of action could be costing some hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds each year. Hidden fees and charges, computerised decisions and worse deals for existing customers, mean simply accepting the status quo can have real financial consequences; remortgaging, for example, could easily save thousands of pounds each year in interest payments.

Pete Thomson, sales and marketing director, at The Mortgage Lender, said:

“For the sake of our sanities, it’s probably best to let some things go and not worry about them. But there are times when poor service, unfair treatment or bad deals do warrant some sort of action. 

“That so few people say they’d actually complain about any of these irritations, particularly where it’s about a financial product or services, means it’s costing them money.  My advice to them is don’t just accept it, challenge the status quo and look for a better deal elsewhere.”

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