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

Consumer's Telegram March 2014

Insert of n. 20 - Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori (European Consumer Centre, Bolzano - Italy)


Online booking

Now for some of us it is time to come up with first summer vacation plans. Mrs Offertini wanted to secure an early-booking discount and went through a huge range of online travel offers. Like many other times the dream offer seemed to be found. Mrs Offertini enters her data, clicks through fast and ends the entry process with "book now". Then she finds an even more convenient all-inclusive offer: She fills in the form again and confirms the booking request - two bookings for the same holiday period. In the end, Mrs. Kaiser wants to cancel one booking.
The legal adviser of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) informs Mrs. Kaiser that online bookings did not allow withdrawal free of charge. Withdrawal was only possible when paying a cancellation charge. The moral of the story is that comparing offers and prices between different operators and websites is allowed and recommended. However, the definite booking must be concluded only once.


The year 2013 within the Network of European Consumer Centres

The ECC-Net is a European network giving European citizens consumer advice in cross-border problems, for example while travelling in another country or e-shopping. The ECC-Net covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), consumers residing in one of these countries and shopping in another one can benefit from their services free of charge.
The Network of European Consumer Centres across the EU handled 80,272 enquiries from citizens across the EU in 2013. This represents an increase of 11% compared to 2012. Two thirds of cases concerned products or services purchased on the internet. Among the 80,272 contacts from consumers, the ECCs dealt with 32,522 complaints. The number of complaints increased by 9% compared to 2012. Around a third of all complaints concerned the transport sector. The largest hare concerned air transport (18.3%); however car rental is attracting an ever increasing number of complaints (4,5%). The other top complaints received by the ECCs related to household equipment, problems related to the purchase of tickets for sporting and cultural events and time-share.
On the website of the European Commission dedicated to the Network of European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net), consumers can find the contact details of their European Consummer Centre.

Sometimes it seems to much of a coincidence: On the same day three complaints from three different EU Countries against the same Italian Online-shop end up on the desk of our ECC-adviser. The online department store sells dresses, shoes and accessories of familiar labels for fashion-conscious clients on a large scale. The consumers who contacted the Network of European Consumers Centres had sent their purchases back. In two of the cases consumers exercised their right of withdrawal because they did not like their purchase or their purchase did not fit and once a consumer claimed the right of guarantee because the goods were defective. The consumers had been waiting for quite a long time already but still no refund or no replacement. Subsequently, our advisor wrote a complaint and expected long discussions with the company. However, within few days the company cooperated regarding the cases that dealt with withdrawal and refunded the full amount. After three weeks also the third case was solved without discussions. The basis of all three cases were alledgedly technical difficulties or the fact that the company's modalities concerning the declaration of complaints were not followed. Good to see that working for consumers can be successful also this way: with a business ready to cooperate instead to discuss!