Consumer's Telegram June 2019Insert of n. 45 - Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori (European Consumer Centre Italy - Bolzano office)
Price comparisons between online flight bookings: booking portal or airline?Fllights can be booked not only on the website of the airline but also through various booking platforms. A price comparison conducted by the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Austria and the Austrian Consumer Association (VKI) came to the conclusion that it is often more convenient to book directly with the airline. The analysis carried out by Austrian consumer protectors evaluated the portals eDreams, Expedia, Fluege.de, GoToGate, Opodo, Travelgenio and Kiwi. In 33 of 43 cases it was more convenient to book directly with the airline.
In addition to the question of the price there are further reasons that argues against booking through booking portals. Consumers are frequently contacting ECC Italy because of problems with online booking platforms concerning issues such as high handling fees, missing or incomplete refunds, difficulties with getting in contact with the portal and the way complaints are processed. Find more information about this issue on the website of the ECC.
HOLIDAY AND TRAVEL
Tolls, city-tolls and environmental zones in EU-countriesIf you plan a holiday by car, you should be informed well in advance about tolls and environmental zones of your holiday destination. In many countries a distance-related toll fee is charged that has to be paid at the entrance and exit of toll stations (e.g. in France, Italy and Greece). In other countries car drivers need a vignette either one to affix on the windscreen or a digital one (e.g. in Austria, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria). Furthermore, some European inner city areas are fee-based, for example, Stockholm and Göteborg and many cities of Norway. On weekdays there is also a city-toll for certain areas in London. Many European cities have introduced driving bans to combat air pollution. Find more information about this issue here.
Phone calls and SMS to EU-countries are significantly cheaper nowGood news for all consumers in the EU: Already back in 2017 roaming fees were abolished by the EU, whereas since 15 May 2019, all phone calls and SMS by private consumers within the EU have been capped. Consumers who call from their own country to a different EU-country pay up to a maximum of 19 cents per minute (+VAT) and up to a maximum of 6 cents per SMS (+VAT). This applies to phone calls via landline as well as via mobile phone or SMS. The new rules are not only applicable for the 28 EU countries but in the near future also for calls and SMS originating in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. More information is available on the website of the ECC: https://bit.ly/2WV14Yi.
CASE OF THE MONTH
There are two sensitive phases when renting a car: The time of the pick-up when all already existing damages must be recorded and the time of the return. Sometimes it can happen that the car is returned outside business hours and no member of staff is there: The consumer parks the car and returns the car key by posting it to the specifically provided key box. What can be done if months later the credit card will be debited because of alleged damages? The consumer can complain in writing and preferably add a foto of the returned car that is in good condition. Even though a Polish consumer had followed this advice, he was not able to convince the car rental company that he had not caused the damage of the car. Therefore the consumer contacted the colleagues of the European Consumer Centre in Poland who transferred the case to the Italian ECC. The Polish consumer had not only taken pictures of the car serving as a piece of evidence, but he was able to provide a video of 28 gigabyte registred during the car journey. He could prove with this material that the damage had not occurred during his journey and the debited amount was refunded after the intervention of the ECC.