Oh Lord won't you buy me a product I can trust?

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The Independent Online

Readers with longish memories will recall the ill-fated singer Janis Joplin asking: "Oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz"? The thought of having a motor handed to you is a pleasing one, especially for those tens of thousands of drivers facing difficulties after buying second-hand cars.

It's the biggest problem consumers face, according to new statistics from Citizens Advice. Buying faulty vehicles is the number one gripe that the charity has dealt with in the past year, with more than 50,000 people forced to seek help.

The next most troublesome issue – more than 20,000 consumers have contacted the charity about this – is mobile phones, with consumers complaining about substandard service or a particularly poor signal.

"Consumers should feel in the driving seat when things go wrong," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. "Mobile phone networks need to ensure that markets work for consumers. The second-hand car industry must make sure that the goods it sells fit legal requirements," Or, as Janis Joplin sang, they should: "Try, try, try, just a little bit harder."

However, the results of the charity's latest Consumer Advice Trends report should come as no surprise as there can be few of us who haven't experienced problems after buying a second-hand car or mobile phone.

However, the new problems that are emerging for consumers are interesting. Since April, the charity reports a 170 per cent increase in complaints about lottery scams – the dodgy mailshots or emails that claim you've won a prize. It then turns out you have to send a fee to unlock it – cash that will simply be trousered by the scammers. That's certainly one we should all remain wary of.

There has also ben a 25 per cent rise in problems with parking and clamping – with consumers being hit by hefty charges for parking on private land. Many parking fees are unfair and unenforceable but I'd be glad to hear of your experiences.

s.read@independent.co.uk

twitter: @simonnread

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