Co-funded by
the European Union
European Consumer Centre (ECC) Italy Bolzano office

Consumer's Telegram February 2024

Insert of n. 13 - Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori (European Consumer Centre Italy - Bolzano office)


How Online Price Comparators Work

Online price comparators are an increasingly popular tool for finding the best products at the lowest price. Users can simply type the product they are interested in into the comparator and see a table with prices from all the major online shops selling it. In addition to price comparisons, they increasingly offer a detailed product data sheet, a collection of reviews (both from the stores themselves and from external specialised sites) and last but not least, a price tracking service. Moreover, it should be remembered that it is the online shops themselves that have precise transparency obligations with regard to the discounts they offer. As of July 2023, in fact, the seller must clearly display the previous price charged to the consumer during promotional campaigns. By 'previous price' is meant the lowest price applied in the 30 days preceding the application of the price reduction. For more details, please consult the website of the European Consumer Centre (ECC).


Unsold Garments May Soon no Longer be Destroyed

The EU is about to launch the new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. Among other things, it stipulates that unsold clothing and shoes may no longer simply be destroyed in the future. There will be exemptions for small companies and a transition period for medium-sized companies. In time, this ban could also be extended to other product categories. Furthermore, once the new regulation will come into force, products will have to have a 'Digital Product Passport', a tag on products that will contain information on its sustainability.


What to Watch Out for when Booking your Trip

At the coldest time of the year, some people are already dreaming of carefree holidays in the summer sun. However, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) wants to warn future holidaymakers about hidden costs and other obstacles they may encounter when booking their dream holiday. Many people use specific search engines for hotels or flights on the internet and then select the (seemingly) cheapest or most practical offer. However, only basic prices are usually found and compared, while there will often also be costs for extra services, such as luggage (checked luggage, but often also hand luggage), seat selection and various other fees. These extra costs, as well as basic airline tickets, are also often more expensive on booking portals than on the websites of the airlines themselves. Read on the CEC website what else one should pay attention to when booking a trip.

A consumer had booked flights on the website of a Spanish online travel agency: the outward flight from Munich to Cairo and the return flight from Hurghada to Munich. To her bitter surprise, she was denied boarding the return flight in Hurghada because, as it was a charter flight, the ticket was not considered valid. She was therefore forced to buy new tickets for the return flight. ECC Italy was also surprised to learn that boarding was denied in such a case. After a brief inquiry, however, it turned out that Egypt applies a rather curious rule: foreign charter flights are only allowed as complete package, including both inbound and outbound flights. In this particular case, the outbound flight was a regular scheduled flight and only the return flight was a charter flight. ECC Italy forwarded the complaint to ECC Spain, as the travel agency had not been explicitly informed of these restrictions and should have sold only those flights that passengers could actually take. Unfortunately, the intervention of the ECC-Net was unsuccessful in the end, as the online travel agency disclaimed any responsibility, claiming that the passenger had voluntarily opted for a purchase with a 'multi-destination' option and that the airline's conditions had been displayed via a link. In any case, this case shows how important it is to carefully check the entry requirements of a country before booking a holiday. Finally, it is important to remember that booking separate flights through online agencies may sometimes seem the most practical solution, but it does not always turn out to be a good idea.