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Consumer's Telegram December 2008Insert of n. 82 - Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori (European Consumer Centre, Bolzano - Italy)
Chain Letters in E-Mail FormMore and more consumers have contacted us in the last few weeks because they had received so-called "HOAX-MAILS". "Hoax" is another word for joke or trick. Such e-mails tell, for example, the moving story of the tragic accident of a two-year old girl from Poland who has been badly burnt in an accident and is lying now in hospital, suffering from terrible pain and unpredictable future problems. The girl would need expensive operations and long rehabilitation training, but the family is not able to pay the costs. The addressee of the mail is asked to send it to as many people as possible, because for each e-mail the family would get 3 cents for the medical treatment of their little daughter.
If this moving story might be true or not does not matter, it is absolutely impossible to collect money in this way. On the one hand it is technically impossible to count the forwarded mails, on the other, nobody can control who will finally pay the money.
However, people who collect e-mail addresses are always happy to get such an e-mail, because it contains hundreds of really existing e-mail addresses, visible to all receivers.
Our advise to the consumers: Do not pass on chain e-mails of any kind, because otherwise you and your friends are likely to get lots of Spam-Mails, Phishing-Mails, false lottery winning news or other junk mail.
UNFAIR COMMERCIAL PRACTICES
www.isitfair.eu - The EU Commission informsThe new EU Directive about unfair commercial practices has been in force for half a year now. In order to further inform the consumers, the European Commission has now established a new website. On www.isitfair.eu you will get with, the help of animations, a thorough explanation about what is meant by unfair commercial practice and which practices are always prohibited and therefore to be found on the so-called Black List. Moreover, on the website there is a quiz which tries to help consumers to develop a feeling for the difference between "clever marketing" and "sleazy marketing". You also get to know who to refer to for help if you believe to be the victim of unfair commercial practices. The European Consumer Centre (ECC) is the right place to turn to in the case of international conflicts, thus, when the company involved has its legal headquarters in another EU Member State.
Holiday Destination becomes Region of Riots - What to do?Again, in the last few days, worried consumers contacted us because they had come to know from the news that the destination country of their already booked package tour has turned into a dangerous place because of riots. Therefore they are not sure if to cancel their planned tour.
First of all, it is important to find out if the Italian Foreign Office (Farnesina) has given out an official warning for the respective zone in the holiday country. You can find this information on www.viaggiaresicuri.mae.aci.it. If you booked the tour from a foreign tour operator, you need to refer to the official warnings of the corresponding states, for example, the German or Austrian Foreign offices.
If there is an official warning, the consumer can rescind from the contract without any costs. But attention: this possibility is only valid within the time limits and places defined by the warning. If the tour only starts in a few weeks time, it is not easily possible to cancel the tour without any costs, because it is possible that the situation at the holiday destination changes in the meantime and the tour operator might be able to provide the promised services without any problems.
Even if a rescission from the contract is not always possible, worried consumers can always get in contact with their travel agency and find out if it is possible to postpone the trip or to change the destination.
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