Brussels, 2 December 2013
With on-line sales booming before Christmas, consumers still face discrimination when buying services cross-border, reveals the latest ECC Report
Have you ever faced a surcharge for a hotel or hire car because of where you reside, been charged a different price in an on-line shop or been refused delivery of goods by a retailer abroad? If so you are far from alone reveals a new report by the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) which looks at these and other examples of discrimination. European consumers continue to face difficulties when buying services cross-border, in a recent Eurobarometer almost a quarter of those who were active online shoppers had experienced discrimination1 on the basis of residence or nationality.
Commissioner for Consumer policy, Neven Mimica said: "Creating a true single market and enabling e-commerce to fulfil its potential growth could generate benefits of up to €200 billion for consumers2. Unjustified discrimination based on the nationality or place of residence in the provision of services is forbidden by EU law. I want to make sure that consumers know their rights and that these rights are fully respected and enforced."
In the run up to Christmas with more and more consumers looking for the best deals Europe wide, the report highlights the problems that consumers are facing when they want to benefit from the potential of shopping cross-border by analysing the complaints which the 30 European Consumer centres (ECC) received.
Around 74% of the complaints concerning services received by the ECC's related to situations where consumers faced a difference in price or service when buying online goods, such as music, books or electronic items. 21% of the complaints related to services in the tourism industry and the remaining 5% was in the rental and leasing services sector.
The real life examples given in the report reinforce the Commission's commitment to work with the authorities in the Member States in ensuring consumers can benefit from the Single Market.
Measures to improve the respect of consumer rights
The ECC-Net is a European network giving European citizens professional and free consumer advice in cross-border problems, for example while travelling in another country or e-shopping. The ECC-Net covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland).
For more information (including access to the full ECC-Net Report on "Enhanced Consumer Protection - the Services Directive 2006/123/EC"):
September 2013 Special Eurobarometer (398)
DG SANCO 2011 consumer market study on the functioning of e-commerce and Internet marketing