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European Consumer Centre (ECC) Italy Bolzano office

Consumer's Telegram July/August 2019

Insert of n. 54/61 - Editorial office: Centro Europeo Consumatori (European Consumer Centre Italy - Bolzano office)


Tips by the European Consumer Centre (ECC)

Have you rented a car for your holidays? If so, you have to be alert. In the experience of the European Consumer Centre (ECC), there are a great number of complaints regarding the car rental sector. Rental contracts are often signed digitally on a tablet where it is rather impossible to read the entire contract. In such a case check your inbox as you receive a copy of your contract by e-mail. Before you start your trip in your rented car re-check the rental contract again: You could claim corrections.
Consult the website of the ECC for the 7 useful car rental tips you should pick up in order to avoid unexpected debits on your credit card.


Warranty and return costs: How did the ECJ judge?

Consumers who like to shop online probably know this problem: If a product shows a defect within two years after the purchase and one wants to assert guarantee claims, the defective goods must be sent back to the seller for repair or replacement. But who bears the delivery costs? Lately the European Court has decided in a recently entered judgement in case C-52/18 that the legal guarantee has to be provided basically free of charge. However, in case of distance selling the consumer can be invited to advance the costs to the seller for the return of the goods provided that they will be refunded when the defects are determined.
Excluded from this regulation are items that are difficult to send back for the consumer and can keep the consumer from asserting his or her right. For example, the shipping costs are too high or it turns out to be too complicated to send back the item because of its size, weight or characteristics.


Geoblocking - ECC achieves successes

As a basic principle it is forbidden to discriminate consumers because of their place of residence or citizenship when shopping online across borders. In practice, however, there are still frequent cases of geoblocking. The ECC Italy is the official national contact point for all issues in relation with geoblocking and in recent times they have dealt with some cases of this kind. A Lithuanian consumer for example wanted to buy from an Italian online shop, but as he tried to fill in his data in the order form, he was not able to type in his Lithuanian phone number. The system kept asking for an Italian number. After the intervention of the ECC the company made it technically possible to order also without an Italian phone number.
What further cases around this topic have been solved by the ECC, can be read on the website of the ECC.

A consumer from Luxembourg booked a flight with an Italian airline for March 2019 to Cairo already last year in November. The flight should have been operated with an aeroplane of the type Boeing 737 Max. Since two aereoplanes of this type had crashed presumably because of a software error, in March the European airspace was closed for all aereoplanes of this type and therefore also the flight booked by the consumer was cancelled. The Italian airline was not able to find a suitable alternative flight and refunded only the price of the cancelled flight. As a consequence the consumer organised her journey autonomously and travelled by bus to Frankfurt and from there she took a flight with another airline to Cairo. The price for a short-term booking of a flight is considerably higher. In this case the ECC mediated between the Luxembourgian consumer and the Italian airline. The airline soon agreed to refund the incurred extra costs of nearly 300 Euros for the journey.