Consumer electronics companies have been accused of delivering "shocking" customer service to Web shoppers.
Seventy percent of routine customer service and product questions are not answered on leading consumer electronic websites, according to a website customer service survey from Transversal.
The company has a vested interest as it sells automated customer response systems to online vendors.
Figures from Web monitoring firm Hitwise suggest that searches for 'Christmas gifts' have increased 62 percent in the past week.
But the inability to get fast, accurate information online will result in sales going to competitors, and increased costs as frustrated gadget buyers call or email contact centres, according to Transversal.
Questions that failed to elicit an answer included 'What should I do if my unit requires service or repair?', making UK companies appear unconcerned with the fate of products and customers after the transaction.
On average, it took 35 hours for the 10 consumer electronics manufacturers surveyed to respond to a simple email. One company took six days to respond to a query and then failed to answer the question.
A fifth of companies refused to answer questions from new customers, thereby losing potential Christmas sales.
"Considering the huge sums of money that UK consumers are spending on gadgets it is a disgrace that they cannot get fast answers to even the most simple questions," said Davin Yap, chief executive at Transversal.
"With consumer electronics at the top of many Christmas lists, manufacturers need to take heed of this research or risk customers voting with their feet and buying from competitors."
While many consumer electronics companies have invested in FAQ pages and customer search facilities, they are simply not providing the answers that consumers are looking for, claims Transversal.
Gadget sites failing on customer service
By Andrew Charlesworth on Nov 13, 2006 10:02AM