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the European Union
European Consumer Centre (ECC) Italy Bolzano office

Consumer's Telegram February 2015

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


The previous year in the ECC Bolzano at a glance

When advisors of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in Bolzano had to summarize the last year 2014 by giving three key words, these words would be: the new Consumer Directive, car rental and social media. The new Consumer Directive can be considered as a key word because its application has been enforced since 13th June 2014 providing new rights and more protection for consumers. Experts of the ECC informed consumers and companies about new regulations; they organized many activities such as giving contributions to conferences and providing information.
In the area of car rental the ECC Italy notices, however, a steady increase in the number of complaints. In the year 2012 the network of European Consumers Centres received 282 reports of citizens from the entire EU who complained about maladministration in Italian car rental companies. In the year 2013 there were 409 complaints registered and in the year 2014 there were 539 complaints registered (thus, nearly twice as many as in 2012).
The third key word for the year 2014 in the ECC regards social media: Staff members of the ECC provided information and tips easily accessible for consumers on Facebook (, Twitter (@ECCItalyBolzano) and on the website
Read more about the work of the ECC Bolzano on website.


Can you cancel your holidays free of charge in case of sickness?

Unfortunately it happens that consumers have to stay sick in bed when they actually wanted to go on their well-deserved holiday. Many consumers believe that they only have to show a medical certificate to the hotel, the travelling company or the airline and they have a valid excuse that allows them to refuse to pay the travel expenses. This is a false conclusion: Cancellations free of charge are usually not possible.
The risk to fall sick and not to make use of the purchased service is basically burdened on the consumer and not on the hotel-owner, travel agent or airline company. Therefore, it is advisable to purchase a travel cancellation insurance that covers cancellation fees in the case of sudden illness. If you travel abroad on a skiing vacation you should necessarily conclude an insurance that covers at least a helicopter rescue. For example, a consumer, who suffers an accident on a ski slope in Austria and has to be carried by helicopter to a hospital, has to expect an invoice that amounts several thousand euros.
You can read about cancellation options of your bookings on the website of the ECC.


Two consumers spent their holidays in Hurghada. Since their outward flight was late and their return flight was early, their holiday was reduced by seven hours. The consumers tried to demand a compensation payment through their German travel agent and also through the German airline. They received a negative response from both institutions. In the letter the airline company refers to a technical defect that is regarded as force majeure and according to EU Regulation a compensation payment is excluded. The consumers contacted staff members of the European Consumers Centre (ECC) Italy who asked their colleagues in Germany to intervene. According to the settled caselaw you only have the right to demand compensation for reduced holiday time in extremely rare cases. Therefore, the airline company was confronted again with the claim for compensation due to delay as foreseen in the EC-regulation. The ECC Germany tried to solve the case through a German arbitration board. The surprise was big when the airline company actually conceded with a compensation payment of 800 euros in total; of course without admitting their fault. The saying “Things always seem to happen when you least expect them” proved to be true again.