The government-backed 2000 National Complaints Culture Survey found that retail employees feel that their ability to deal with complaints is often shaky because they are unsupported, discouraged and poorly trained.
A third of retail staff would appreciate greater recognition of the problems they face in the shopfloor or phone.
The survey supported by the Institute of Customer Care also quizzed consumers. 44 percent of respondents said they complain most or all of the time. Those who dont complain neglect to do so because of lack of time or because its too much trouble.
The UKs top complainers are aged 51 to 65 while those under 21 tend to take their business elsewhere rather than complain.
The Institute of Customer Care recommends that complaints proceedures should be flagged in shops and that staff should be adequately trained to deal with aggrieved customers, who are often after acknowledgment that their complaint has been registered rather than monetary compensation.