Decline in Scottish trust in travel industry and social media networks during the pandemic, Which? report reveals

Scots have become less trustworthy of airlines, holiday companies and social media networks during the pandemic according to Which?’s annual Consumers in Scotland Report.

Cancelled flights and holiday bookings during the pandemic have left many Scots feeling less trustworthy of the travel industry.  Picture: JPIMedia
Cancelled flights and holiday bookings during the pandemic have left many Scots feeling less trustworthy of the travel industry. Picture: JPIMedia

The impact of cancelled bookings, non-refunded trips and plane tickets has been revealed in Which?’s latest findings, after the consumer platform conducted research into issues affecting Scottish customers throughout the pandemic.

With over 1,000 people across Scotland having participated in the research, Which? found that 34% of them were now less trustworthy of airline and holiday operators - an increase of 5% on the UK average.

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Paired with a mere 6% of people in Scotland saying they had greater trust in the travel industry since the pandemic began, the travel sector has seen trust levels plummet after consumers struggled to gain refunds or explanations on cancelled bookings and holidays, with a -28 point change in trust for Scottish consumers on last year.

Alongside the travel industry, social media networks also faced a similar fall in trust among people in Scotland, with two-thirds telling Which? they felt concerned about the safety and security of their data. This is in addition to 56% of Scottish consumers who said they are fearful of being targeted by scammers on social media, following the proliferation of online scams during in lockdowns.

Overall, Which?’s research revealed that a third of people in Scotland said they had lost trust in social media companies despite the attempts of tech giants to ease concerns about privacy and data security.

This comes after separate research carried out by Which? recently found that almost one in ten people in the UK had been the victim of scam adverts on social media sites, as networks struggled to catch up to the wave of scam adverts on their platforms.

While both the travel industry and social media networks were notably hit by a loss of trust among Scottish consumers, Which?’s report reveals that the food and groceries sector has enjoyed a lift in trust levels for people in Scotland since the pandemic began.

With a quarter of people surveyed in Scotland saying they now felt more trustworthy of the food and groceries industry in the wake of the pandemic, the sector has seen a positive change in trust on last year’s 5% by 20 percentage points.

Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, said:

“These latest figures are a damning indictment of the behaviour of many airlines and holiday companies since the start of pandemic.

“With many Scottish customers being told to either wait months for their money back or accept a voucher that may prove worthless if a company fails, it should come as a surprise to no-one that trust has plummeted so drastically.

“The lower levels of trust among Scottish consumers across many industries compared to the rest of the UK highlights the important role for Consumer Scotland. It is important that this new consumer body sets out its priorities quickly.”

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