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Overview of consumer issues | Summary -Part 1 Chapter 3, Section 1-

Part 1 : Today's consumer issues and consumers' behavior/attitude
Chapter 3 : Trends in consumer issues
Section 1 : Overview of consumer issues

The number of consumer affairs consultations in FY 2015 was as large as 927,000, still indicating a high level

  • The number of consumer affairs consultations in FY 2015 was 927,000.
  • Although the number declined from FY 2014, it is still high.
  • As informatization has spread further among a broad range of age groups, there was a rise in the number of consultations related to information and communications such as the troubles related to the Internet, the contracts for communications devices and services.

Figure3-1-1 Changes in the number of consumer affairs consultations

Consultations on ICT issues are by far the largest in number

  • The breakdown of the FY 2015 consultations by product/service type shows that "transport & communications services," which are mostly related to information communications (communications services), including online digital contents, were by far the largest category in the number of consultations, with about 280,000 consultations received. However, payments made per case were small, at \25,000.
  • "Financial & insurance services" was the second largest category in the number of consultations.

Figure3-1-2 The number of consumer affairs consultations and payments made, by product/service type (FY 2015)

Average value involved per consultation is declining

  • The average contract/purchase value (amount billed or purchased/contracted) per consultation case has been declining these years in all groups: total, the elderly (65 years & over), and under 65 years.
  • The average payments made (amount actually paid) are nearly equal to those in the previous fiscal year.
  • The decline in value is mainly due to the decline in the number of consultations for expensive products, including financial products, and the increase of consultations related to information communications, which involve relatively small amounts on average.

Figure3-1-3 Changes in average contract/purchase value and average payments made

ICT-related consultations are common in a wide range of age groups

  • Many of the consumer affairs consultations were related to Transport & communications services, such as digital content, Internet connection lines, mobile phones and other communications services, in a wide range of age groups.
  • Number in the 40s and 60s columns is proportional to the population.
  • A large portion of consultations by women in their 70s are related to "Financial & insurance services."

The percentage of consumer affairs consultations by product/service type, by gender and age group (FY 2015)

Consumer affairs consultations for the elderly are still at a high level

  • The number of consumer affairs consultations for the elderly tend to increase, and though FY2015 was below the level of FY2014, the level was still high.
  • The consultations are on the rise for those related to consumers of more advanced age among the elderly people.
  • While consultations related to digital content and Internet increased in FY2015, the consultations about financial products have decreased. Consultations related to receiving suspicious phone calls often include cases without any specific information about the products.

Figure3-1-9 Number of consumer affairs consultations from elderly people

Figure3-1-11 Product/service types dealt in the consultations related to eldery people (top 5 items)

The number of consultations for elderly people with dementia, etc. is at a high level

  • The number of consultations for elderly people with dementia, etc. who need to be watched over is at a high level.
  • About 40% of these consultations are pertinent to the door-to-door sales of newspaper subscription, roof work, and so forth, larger than that of elderly people in total.
  • Most of the consultations are received from people other than the contracting person, with the consultations from the actual persons concerned at less than 20%.

Figure3-1-12 The number of consultations for elderly people with dementia, etc.

Figure3-1-13 Breakdown of consultations for elderly people with dementia, etc. by sales/purchase method (FY 2015)

Consultations about "online stores" increased

  • The breakdown of consultations by sales/purchase method indicates that the percentage of "purchase at stores" is declining, while that of "online stores" is increasing, accounting for 34.9% among consumers aged under 65 years.
  • Among consultations by the elderly, ratio of "telemarketing sales" accounting for the large proportion in recent years have decreased and instead “online stores” increased.

Changes in the breakdown of consultations by sales/purchase method

Losses from harm and problems to consumers amounted to an estimated 6.1 trillion in 2015

  • The losses from harm and problems to consumers (total expenditures on products and services associated with consumer harm and problems) in 2015 amounted to an estimated 6.1 trillion.
  • This amount expresses how much economic losses consumers suffered due to recognized harm and problems, as measured by the value of products/services involved.

Figure3-1-29 Losses from harm and problems to consumer

Almost the same number of consumer accidents as recorded in the previous fiscal year were reported to CAA under the Consumer Safety Act

  • Under the Consumer Safety Act, 12,282 cases of information on consumer accidents were reported to CAA in FY2015. This represents an increase by 1.7% from 12,078 cases in the previous fiscal year.
  • These cases include 2,897 "life or health-related accidents" (a 0.3% decline from 2,906 cases in FY2014), and 9,385 "property-related cases" (a 2.3% increase from 9,172 in FY2014).
  • The number of "serious injuries" (due to fires, falls, toppling, etc.) was 1,304, an increase of 4.5% compared with the previous fiscal year.

Figure3-1-26 Consumer accident information reported to CAA