THE number of people complaining about online shopping has risen by 84 per cent in just a year, according to research.

An e-commerce specialist in Bournemouth says people are expecting much more from online buying than they were a few years ago – and are more inclined to seek redress when they don’t get it.

Resolver, which offers web users a free complaints tool, said online shopping generated 84 per cent more complaints in 2018-19 than the previous year.

Complaints about high street shopping increased by 39 per cent.

The number of complaints about package deliveries soared by 203 per cent, while those about ticket sales were up 213 per cent.

Complaints about film and TV steaming services rose 106 per cent.

Marcus Wincott, marketing manager at Media Lounge, a Bournemouth company dealing in web design for e-commerce, said complaints were rising much faster than growth in e-commerce.

“According to research company eMarketer, revenue from online shopping was more than £80billion in 2018 and is predicted to be closer to £90bn this year but that growth has slowed in recent times and has been consistently under 10 per cent since 2016 so doesn’t come close to explaining the rise in complaints about this sector by itself,” he said.

“Secondly, and in my opinion, the biggest contributing factor to this uplift, consumer expectations have changed dramatically in the last few years when it comes to online purchasing.

“For me, this is about expectations changing in the online space but remaining much the same offline.

“We’re not expecting a trip to our high street to have changed much in recent times, we may still want to complain about it but not because it didn’t meet our expectations.

“Online though, the improvements we’ve seen in things like user experience, returns policies, one-click payments, click-and-collect services, split payments, and delivery times have been transformative and continue to change and improve further.

“But of course, these improvements are led by the e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon and ASOS so when we don’t receive the same next day delivery, split payment option or free returns service from another, perhaps smaller retailer, we feel let down and may want to complain,” he said.

“I think these high standards are fantastic for the consumer but they do put pressure on all retailers to up their game and offer similar services in order to compete.”

He added: “The importance of online reviews to an e-commerce business and the ease with which a customer can complain publicly about a service or online experience has led to brands offering free products or services to avoid these complaints or publicly appease their customers.

“I don’t think it’s difficult to draw a clear line between this and the increase in complaints highlighted in this report.”

The top five most complained-about subjects according to Resolver, with percentage changes since last year, were: PPI (minus 24 per cent); flight and airlines (up 14 per cent); online shopping (up 84 per cent); high street shopping (up 39 per cent); and mobile phones (57 per cent).