Brussels, 8 December 2008
Consumers: Commissioner Kuneva launches EU
online consumer education programmes in Bulgaria and Romania
EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva will today
in Sofia launch a new internet programme designed to help adults and children
know more about their basic consumers rights. You’ve bought a new hi-fi
system and when you get it home it doesn’t work properly; you ordered
books on the Internet, but you’ve never received them; you receive an
invoice for an abnormally high mobile telephone bill; you booked a package
holiday abroad before the summer, but it was nothing like what was described in
the brochure. What can you do? How do you resolve these consumer problems? The
EU online information consumer education programme ("DOLCETA" www.dolceta.eu) aims to provide some answers to
these important questions. It sets out clearly – in three levels for basic
to more advanced users - what consumer rights you have, on issues from sales
contracts, to guarantees, to settling disputes and taking out a credit loan. The
programmes are designed to be used by trainers and teachers in adult education,
as well as in schools for 15-18 year old students, in primary schools, and for
training or reference work by consumer organisations, government agencies, by
NGOs or community education programmes. The online consumer education tools
already exist in other EU languages, today it is extended to Bulgaria and
EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: “Consumers in the
European Union enjoy some of the strongest consumer rights in the world, but too
often people don't know their rights, or understand clearly how to use them.
Every consumer needs to know what their rights are when they go to return a
good, what to do if they don't get what was advertised, where to complain if the
bill seems to overcharge, where to get help to settle a dispute if you need it.
This is the kind of practical information and training that helps people stand
up for their rights and get the quality and service they deserve, online or in
the high street."
Development of online consumer education tools for consumers
The EU's online consumer educations programmes are designed to help people of
all ages learn more about their consumer rights. They are available in all EU
languages and have been adapted by national teams/experts to take into account
There are four modules on line covering: basic consumer rights (contracts,
labelling, distance selling, advertising, redress); financial services (family
budget, credit, mortgages, saving and investment); safety of products and
services and a special module aimed at teachers with pedagogical materials
(intro consumer education, responsible, healthy and safe consumers).
The online tools provides basic, easy-to-use information on a range of
consumer rights including, with practical everyday examples, questions and
answers and quiz questions to test your knowledge.
For example did you know:
- Sales contracts: What rules protect you, the consumer, when you enter
and conclude a sales contract? In what situations does the salesman have to
comply with these rules? What are the contractual obligations for both parties
involved in the sale?
- Guarantees: Two months after buying a new car, you find that the
engine makes odd noises; you have a new telephone and find that there is
regularly no dialling tone when you lift the receiver; you bought a timeshare
and arrived at the property at the allotted time to find that it is already
occupied. What are your consumer rights in such situations? What guarantees do
you have from the trader whom you purchased these items from?
- What to watch out for when signing a sales contract You want to buy a
car. You have chosen the model, the colour, the different options and the dealer
you wish to buy it from. After a lengthy discussion with the trader, you come to
an agreement on all points. He gives you a purchase order to sign. What should
you pay particular attention to as you read it?
- Delivery: You want to buy that wardrobe in the display window but you
don’t have a van to take it home; your washing machine needs fixing and
you are waiting for the repairman who gave you a quotation. In all these cases,
you are waiting for the delivery of a product or a service stipulated by the
contract. What are your rights?
- Cancelling a contract: In theory, when you agree to a contract with a
salesman for a product or service, then you are bound by that contract. However.
there are certain exceptions to this rule. When can a contract be cancelled?
- Making complaints: What can you do if a trader refuses to listen to
your complaint or to admit the existence of a problem? Make a complaint? Yes,
but when, how, and to whom?
To test your knowledge or find out more
The (DOLCETA) online consumer education internet tools are part of a much
broader drive by the European Commission to facilitate consumer information and
training to raise awareness of consumer rights. Other important EU initiatives
include the newly launched EU Masters Programme in Consumer Affairs and the
Europa schools diary and teachers guide.