Brussels, 18 June 2008
EU Consumer Protection Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva said: 'Consumers should be empowered to make informed choices about the goods and services they purchase. Their interests should be promoted and defended, particularly in view of the increasing complexity of the markets in which they operate. The ECCs represent a key tool in providing consumers with information and direct help with cross border problems'.
Most complaints tackled by ECCs concern contract terms (25%), product and service (22,4 %), and delivery (20%). Most problems concerning contract terms relate to rescission of contracts (70%). Cooling-off periods represent 19% while unfair contract terms account for approximately 7%. Complaints on product and service are mainly about defective items (49%). 27% of product and service-related complaints focus on non conformity. Complaints with regard to delivery were about the lack of delivery altogether (71%)! Delays represent 18% of cases. More than half of complaints concern on-line transactions (55%). Sales in shops and other commercial venues ("on the premises") involve 24,7% of the cases. Distance selling only amounts to 9%.
The greater part of the complaints concerns mainly the transport services (22%), the audio-visual sector (10%), the recreational and cultural services (12%), the timeshare sector (6%), the purchase of vehicles (4%).
Other ECC activities
Apart from information to consumers on both EU and national rules as well as advice to individuals facing consumer related cross-border problems, they have also helped consumers to reach agreements on complaints with traders using out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms. Contacts are increasing yearly – 19% in 2006 and a further 10% in 2007. With the help of latest technology in the form of a new database launched in January 2007, co-operation between centres will be even more efficient in the future. The ECCs provides valuable input for the European Commission on consumer policy issues.
Joint projects and events
Apart from handling information requests and complaints, ECCs have been running joint projects, such as a review on complaints regarding air passenger rights (project carried out by ECC Belgium, Ireland and Sweden), "Howard" the on-line shopping assistant (ECC Denmark and Ireland), an information campaign with leaflets on tourism (15 Centers including ECC Spain, Germany, Cyprus and France as co-coordinators).
They were key organizers of other awareness-raising initiatives such as the campaign on the EU Timeshare Directive, the "You choose!" campaign on the opening of national energy markets, the new "Eurotariff" GSM roaming legislation, and other information actions.
For further information on ECCs:
For information on joint projects: