The cost to consumers of products or services that are not up to scratch is estimated at €0.5 billion here.

That is according to a study from the new Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

The commission examined the level of detriment experienced by Irish consumers - consumer detriment is a measure of the loss experienced by consumers where they have a reason to complain about a product or a service. 

It is the first time a study of this size and scope has been conducted here and it found that 44% of consumers experienced a problem following the purchase of a product or service in the last 12 months.

The area most likely to cause difficulties was in the provision of internet, television or telecommunications, followed by financial goods and services.

The survey noted that 47% of the problems with goods or services incurred no financial detriment, while 5% incurred financial detriment of over €750.

It also examined the amount of time it took consumers to manage problems. It found that 11% of them required ten hours or more of personal time, while 34% took them between two and ten hours to sort out the problem.

The Commission also said that marginally more women (47%) were likely to experience problems with purchases than men (43%).

"The insights revealed in this study together with the intelligence we gain from consumers who contact our helpline and from our other sources of information give us an economy-wide understanding of the problems faced by consumers in Ireland and an evidence base for future prioritisation," commented the Commission's chair Isolde Goggin. 

"The mission of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is to make markets work better, but in order for us to do this and  target our resources most effectively we must know what experiences consumers are having and the areas where they are encountering problems," Ms Goggin added.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission was established in October, with the merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency. It is now the statutory body responsible for enforcing consumer protection and competition law here.