Consumers are apparently less happy with how they are spending their money, with customer satisfaction dropping for the first time last year after increases over five years. Respondents to a poll gauging consumer sentiment said they were unhappy about high rents for private housing. The consumer satisfaction index fell to a rating of 69.1 out of a base score of 100, a 1.6-point drop on last year, according to the annual survey conducted by City University's department of management sciences. The decline was the first since 2003. The department based its findings on 13,000 telephone interviews conducted from June to August. 'Consumers are less willing to spend money when the economy is bad,' associate professor Geoffrey Tso Kwok-fai said. 'They are also more aware of the quality and price differences of commodities.' Four out of six product and service categories marked a drop in satisfaction. The housing category saw the biggest decrease, with the subcategory of private housing rentals sliding 5.4 points. Satisfaction with the information and entertainment category, and transport, followed, dropping 1.3 points and 1 point respectively. 'Consumer satisfaction with private housing rentals witnessed the biggest drop, and was probably due to the fact that rents did not decrease very much despite the property market slump,' Dr Tso said. Rent for private housing constituted a big part of people's expenses, he said, and tenants were unhappy because they still had to pay the same amount despite having had pay cuts. Meanwhile, the Consumer Council warned people to be aware of employment traps even though they were desperate for jobs. It received seven complaints about misconduct by fashion modelling agencies in January, compared to four in the same period last year. It also advised consumers to pay attention before being talked into prepayment deals, to take advantage of small discounts in making purchases. 'The most important of all is they consume according to their own capabilities,' chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing said. The council's chiefs cut a cake yesterday to celebrate the body's 35th anniversary. It received 42,050 complaints last year, compared to 4,872 in 1974, when it was set up.