Consumer's Telegram November 2014Insert of n. 76 - Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori (European Consumer Centre, Bolzano - Italy)
Searching for a flat to rent on the internet – Beware of frauds!Ms T has just received the confirmation for a traineeship in Bruxelles and has to look for a flat to rent now. This is not so easy to do from Italy and therefore she searches the internet and finally finds an interesting offer on a Belgian site: From the pictures the flat looks perfect and Ms T. is asked to transfer part of the rent in advance. Even though she has never received the opportunity to look at the flat on the spot, she accepts the rental offer and transfers the requestet amount to a bank account in London. Only after her arrival in Bruxelles the consumer discovers that the flat does not exist at all and that she has been defrauded.
Expecially with rental offers on the internet a healthy distrust is necessary; this is the case especially when the rent seems to be too good a bargain! The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Bozen strongly advises not to make advanced payments without having taken a look at the flat on the spot. Only in this case one can be sure that the requested property really exists. You can find more information on the website of the ECC.
After rebukes by the European Commission car rental companies promise improvementsIn August the European Commission published a communication addressed to several international car rental companies pleading to stop practices that prevent consumers on the basis of their place of residence from profiting from the best possible prices. Afterwards some companies admitted their error and were prepared to take corrective action. They committed to stop automatic rerouting on a specially created website of each consumer's country by determining the IP-addresse. Now consumers should be able to make a booking on the internet on any national website of car rental companies within the EU that allows them to choose the best possible prices. Different prices that depend on the place of residence of the consumer are only allowed when justified by objective reasons. EU law and especially the Services Directive prohibit unjustified discrimination on the basis of nationality or place of residence as regards access to a certain service. You will find a practical guide about the prohibition of discrimination prescribed by the Services Directive on the website of the European Commission.