OCTOBER 2004Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori
(European Consumer Centre, Italy)
A 'click' oo muchWhen surfing in the internet you will find a lot of attractive offers for journeys. Many people are tempted to ask for an offer for a specific destination. But be careful! When near the button ‘booking’ there is the little word ‘binding’ you are obliged to take on the offer you are asking for. This means that if the travel agency finds a free place and answers your request you will have to pack your suitcase because the contract for the journey is valid. Who asks for several binding offers at the same time takes big risks because if they are all answered you will be able to choose one but obliged to pay for all of them.
Our tip: Before clicking on the ‘Send’ button you should check if there is any obligation connected to the offer. And you should also look at the dead-line of the binding, because very often the online agencies ask your obligation up to the day of departure without even being able to guarantuee you a place for the specific destination.
Shopping in EuropeDid you know that in Austria you have no right to buy something for the price fixed on the shelf or on the product itself? Did you know that in Finland the guarantee period for consumer goods is unlimited while in the EU it only lasts for two years?
Did you know that in Sweden you have to show your identity card when paying by credit card?
The brochure ‘Shopping in Europe’ is a collection of advices for all Eu-tourists who would like to shop without problems in the old member states (more).
Travelling when you suffer from allergiesGroceries are absolutely necessary for our life but in some cases they can also be life-threatening. This is why people suffering from an allergy have to inform themselves very well about the ingredients of food. This can be very difficult at home, not to mention in a foreign country. Some people therefore avoid travelling abroad. But this is not necessary anymore. The European Consumer Centre of Kiel in Germany has put together a handy language guide containing the most important terms for allergies and food ingredients in many important European languages. The mini-dictionary is free available in the ECC Bolzano.
Rates of Value Added Tax in the new Member StatesLike in the old member states there are considerable differences regarding the VAT rates in the new ones.
Here is a list of the normal rates. However, in many states there are reduced rates for groceries, medicine and hotel services.
- Estonia 18%
- Latvia 18%
- Lithuania 18%
- Malta 15%
- Poland 22%
- Czech Republic 19%
- Slovakia 19%
- Slovenia 20%
- Hungary 25 %
- Cyprus 15%
The Case of the MonthIt seemed to be the bargain of the century: there was a classy car put up for an online-auction, starting bid 1 Euro. Of course, Mr Thinkpink happily participated and the lot went to him for a bidding of 3 Euro!!! But there is always a morning after the sweet dreams of the night. Thinkpink soon found out that he had not acquired a car but only a contract: Not the car but its bill of sale had been put up for auction, the classy car had a purchase price of 50,000 Euro. Impossible rates for Mr Thinkpink’s financial situation.
Fortunately the man got off lightly: The ECC got in contact with the car center and was able to convince them to sell the contract to another client. So it could have ended worse for Mr Thinkpink, however, some sleepless nights he had to go through will help him to be more careful on his future online trips.